New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s troubles are far from over.
While the Republican is still trying to recuperate and regain his good name in the face of “bridge-gate,” he is now faced with a federal probe about his use of Superstorm Sandy relief funds, CNN reports.
The exclusive report reveals that federal auditors are looking closely at Christie’s use of approximately $25 million in Sandy funds for a marketing campaign that was used to promote tourism at the Jersey Shore, which was devastated by the storm.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who wrote to the Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general asking that Christie’s use of the marketing money be looked into, said that he was concerned about the bidding process for the firm that was ultimately given the marketing plan. According to the report, the winning bidder charged the state about $2 million more than the next-lowest bidder. The $4.7 million bid featured ads with Christie and his family, while the $2.5 million proposal that lost did not feature the family at all.
According to Pallone, the inspector general’s preliminary reviews yielded enough evidence to launch a full-scale investigation into the use of the federal funds.
“This was money that could have directly been used for Sandy recovery. And, as you know, many of my constituents still haven’t gotten the money that is owed them to rebuild their homes or raise their homes or to help,” Pallone told CNN.
If final conclusions show any misconduct, Christie may have a hard time recovering from the backlash, especially considering how much national praise his efforts for the state received post-Sandy.
Just last week, the governor ended up firing two of his top staff members for the part they played in causing traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge apparently as political retribution against Fort Lee, N.J.’s mayor for not endorsing Christie’s re-election. The governor is facing two probes into the incident, which tied up traffic for four days.