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article imageFeds investigate Gov. Chris Christie over Hurricane Sandy funds

By Yukio Strachan     Jan 14, 2014 in Politics
Trenton - Just days after defending himself in a scandal over the George Washington Bridge lane closures, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie now faces an investigation into the use of federal aid meant to assist with relief efforts following Superstorm Sandy.
Representative Frank Pallone, a Democrat and longtime critic of Christie, said he requested a federal review back in August following a Asbury Park Press investigation into a $25-million marketing campaign meant to bring tourism back to the New Jersey shore following the 2012 Superstorm Sandy, The Press of Atlantic City reported.
At issue is the state’s decision to award an advertising contract to a firm that charged $4.7 million for a TV commercial featuring the governor's family, dubbed "Stronger Than The Storm," an amount that was $2.2 million more than a comparable bidder for similar work.
The difference? The Asbury Park Press reported that the lowest bidder, a team headed by the Sigma Group, proposed an ad that did not feature the Christie family.
"None of our creative featured the governor. Our strategy was to let the Jersey shore speak for itself," said President Sigma Group Shannon Morris.
The company that submitted the more expensive bid, MWW, has ties to the Christie Administration and offered to feature him in the ad, ABC-TV in New York said.
MWW won the contract.
"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.
But Christie spokesman Colin Reed defended the ad, saying the contract went to the best bidder and that the federal government approved the campaign, CBS News reported.
At the time, Housing and Urban Development issued a waiver to the state allowing them to use $25 million in grant money for the television commercials.
The Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the agency conducting the audit, will be issue an official report after the investigation is completed.
The announcement of the probe comes as the governor's camp is under fire for shutting down, without prior public notice, the number of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey, from September 9, 2013 through September 13, 2013 as possible political retribution against Fort Lee's Democratic mayor.
A New Jersey legislative panel, the Assembly Transportation, Independent Authorities and Public Works Committee, investigating that action, released thousands of pages of documents it had subpoenaed last week, showing that a Christie deputy chief of staff had prior knowledge of the closings, despite the governor's claims that no one on his staff had known.
More about Chris christie, hurricane sandy, federal aid, Stronger Than The Storm, federal audit
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