Feds investigating Christie’s use of money intended for Sandy relief

Did Christie use Sandy relief funds to make tourism ads featuring him and his family?

Published January 13, 2014 3:45PM (EST)

It didn't get a lot of attention at the time — though Christie's likely 2016 opponent, Rand Paul, sure noticed — but according to a report from CNN, federal investigators are now looking into whether New Jersey Governor Chris Christie steered Sandy relief funds to an advertising firm that promised to feature him and his family in its ads to promote tourism at the Jersey Shore.

The ads, part of a "Stronger Than the Storm" series, went live while Christie was in the process of running for reelection. Federal investigators are examining whether or not Christie's administration engaged in any foul play in awarding a government contract to the firm responsible for the ads despite the fact that the next-lowest bidder offered to create ads, which didn't feature the Christie family, for considerably less money.

More from CNN:

In the new probe, federal auditors will examine New Jersey's use of $25 million in Sandy relief funds for a marketing campaign to promote tourism at the Jersey Shore after Sandy decimated the state's coastline in late 2012, New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone told CNN

In an August letter, Pallone asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general to look into how Christie chose to spend the marketing money approved by the department.

Neither the governor's office nor the inspector general's office has replied to CNN's request for comment on the investigation.

Pallone wrote that he was concerned about the bidding process for the firm awarded the marketing plan; the winning firm is charging the state about $2 million more than the next lowest bidder. The winning $4.7 million bid featured Christie and his family in the advertisements while the losing $2.5 million proposal did not feature the Christies.

Check out one of the "Stronger Than the Storm" ads, featuring the Christie family, below:

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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