Federal inspectors are investigating whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who was forced to fire two top aides over the George Washington Bridge scandal last week, misused relief funds from superstorm Sandy to make commercials with his family that aired just as he was running for re-election.
On Sunday night, CNN broke the news that Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general auditors were examining the $25 million that Christie used for a marketing campaign that was supposed to help promote tourism at the Jersey Shore.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) told CNN that he sent the department a letter requesting the investigation after learning that New Jersey had chosen the advertising company that bid $2 million more than the next highest bid. However, the company with the lower bid did not propose featuring Christie and his family in ads.
Democrats had argued that the advertisements that ran in the months leading up to last November’s election gave Christie an unfair advantage over his opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono (D).
“This was money that could have directly been used for Sandy recovery,” Pallone told CNN. “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.”
CNN Investigative Correspondent Chris Frates reported on Monday that both Christie and the Department of Housing and Urban Development had declined to respond to a request for comment, but Pallone expected it would take months for the inspector general to complete the investigation.
Watch this video from CNN’s New Day, broadcast Jan. 13, 2014.