A New Jersey activist and Hurricane Sandy survivor filmed during a confrontation with Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Wednesday accused his administration of short-changing a $1.1 billion federal relief package meant to help residents.
“Only 20 percent of those dollars have gotten to the people,” James Keady told MSNBC host Chris Hayes. “Of the $1.1 billion, $219 million has gone out. That means that the governor and his staff in Trenton are sitting on $800 million.”
According to Keady’s advocacy group, Finish The Job, Christie’s administration has mismanaged the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) while boasting about its success in the public eye.
“Photo ops, Christie, President Obama, everybody walking on the beach, kumbaya, giving the hugs,” he said.
Keady faced off with Christie as the governor gave a speech in Belmar commemorating two years since the hurricane devastated New Jersey. Video of the encounter shows Keady standing in front of Christie bearing a sign saying, “Get Sandy families back in their homes,” prompting Christie to berate him from the stage.
“I’m glad you had your day to show off, but we’re the ones who are here to actually do the work,” Christie told him. “So turn around and get your 15 minutes of fame and then maybe take your jacket off and roll up your sleeves and do something for the people of this state.”
Christie later added that if he had 1,000 things to do during the day, dinner with Keady “would be 1,001,” and told him to “sit down and shut up.”
But Keady, who grew up in Belmar, rebuked Christie’s accusation that he did not “do the work” in his community.
“When the hurricane happened, I actually took a month off from work, dropped everything and volunteered to help clean out peoples’ homes,” James Keady told MSNBC host Chris Hayes. “It actually reached the point within a day or two [that] the borough gave me a borough dump truck running all the clean-up crews all over town.”
Keady also insisted his information was accurate as of Oct. 24.
“Unless $800 million went out the door in the last four days, it’s still sitting there,” he said of the RREM funds.
Watch Hayes’ interview with Keady, as aired on Wednesday on MSNBC, below.