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Chris Christie Spends 4.7 Mil from Hurricane Sandy Funds on His Own Political Ads
by Andrea Dantzer
It is no secret that the GOP is pushing Chris Christie to the front of possible Republican contenders for the 2016 presidential election. However, he has people and pundits alike all over the nation questioning his decision to siphon off just under five million dollars for ads that have been deemed ‘self-promotional’.
The series of TV ads, “Stronger than the Storm” feature Governor Christie and his family, they have been airing in Baltimore, DC, PA and NY. The ads are part of a twenty five million dollar spending spree to try and promote and re-energize the tourist industry on the Jersey shore.
Critics disagree saying the ads are more about promoting Chris Christie than they are about promoting Jersey. The Star-Ledger, a local newspaper, went as far as to say:
“Gov. Chris Christie’s habit of using his public office to promote his presidential ambitions has reached a new low.
We’ve seen him do it before. He closed down six Planned Parenthood clinics to appease right-wing primary voters. He’s dragged his feet relentlessly over medical marijuana and dismissed concerns over climate change for the same reason. This fall he is wasting taxpayer money by holding an election in October, in addition to the regularly scheduled November election, solely to protect the large victory margin he expects for his party.
But this time, he’s outdone himself. This time, he siphoned off money that was intended for victims of Sandy to promote himself in a series of TV ads. That is a new low, one that should play prominently in his campaign for re-election.”
The Star-Ledger also went on to accuse the Governor of engaging in crony capitalism by refusing the lowest bid for a series of ads that did not include the governor nor his family in favor of MWW, a company that bid two million dollars over its competitors and did feature the family.
According to committee insiders that reviewed the bid proposals, MWW was not chosen over the Sigma Group because Sigma’s plan was not viable or was flawed in any way. Ashbury Park Press obtained records in regards to the Sigma Group’s proposal in which it was stated, “Sigma’s bid addressed the tasks and deliverables specified in the RFQ (request for quotations) … (and) could effectively meet the requirements of the RFQ.”
The Star-Ledger went on to say,
“It turns out the Christie administration turned away a qualified low-bidder seeking to produce the series of TV commercials promoting tourism at the Shore, titled “Stronger Than the Storm.” Instead, Christie’s appointed cronies chose to spend $2 million more for a campaign produced by MWW, a public relations firm based in East Rutherford that’s known for its abundant political connections in both parties.
Why? The governor’s office dances and shuffles around this point, and the woman in charge of this selection process, Michele Brown, wouldn’t comment. But know this: MWW proposed a series of ads featuring the governor and his family, a move that would be illegal in New York state and should be here. The firm with the lower bid, the Sigma Group, did not.”
The Hurricane Sandy fund is federal aid money given to New Jersey and was intended for victims of the storms. As it is likely Christie will be running as a presidential contender, pundits and critics have posited that instead of using the funds to really help the victims of Hurricane Sandy it was simply a way to get free campaign ads.
Christie was accused in 2011 of using town halls as a campaign prop and one Democratic Assemblyman said he should be forced to pay for campaigning during taxpayer-funded events.
New Jersey Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Gloucester) said, “These are taxpayer-funded events organized and promoted by the taxpayer-funded governor’s office. If the governor sticks to public policy, that’s fine. But if the governor wants to campaign, he must dip into his own wallet.”
Christie and other Republicans waved Moriarty’s accusations away, calling them ‘ridiculous’.
Moriarty’s spokesperson maintained that Christie is in violation the states’ ethics code for executive branch employees that says “no employee in the career or senior executive service shall directly or indirectly use or seek to use his or her position to control or affect the political action of another person or engage in political activity during working hours.”
Is Chris Christie using available funds to promote his own political ambitions through crony capitalism or is this a legitimate use of funds to promote and give a much needed boost for tourism along the Jersey shore?
AP Photo/J. Scott Applwhite