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Federal investigators have ordered a probe into whether Gov. Chris Christie’s administration improperly spent millions of dollars of relief meant to encourage tourists to New Jersey after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

The probe comes as Mr. Christie is struggling with the most difficult crisis of his political career after it was revealed that people in his administration schemed to close local lanes onto the George Washington Bridge as political punishment for the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee. On Monday, New Jersey Democrats announced a new committee to investigate the closings.

This is not the first time Mr. Christie has come under criticism for the Hurricane Sandy funds: Many of the television advertisements used in the campaign, called “Stronger than the Storm,” prominently featured the governor and his family, which drew complaints from Democrats around the state who said it was more focused on promoting Mr. Christie than the Jersey Shore.

The commercials were paid for with money from a federal disaster relief package New Jersey received that included $25 million for a media campaign. The audit by the Department of Housing and Urban Development will look into how the contract was awarded.

An investigation by The Asbury Park Press last year found that the public relations firm that won the contract, MWW Group, based in East Rutherford, charged $2 million more than a competitor that submitted a comparable proposal.

A key difference in the bids, the newspaper reported, was that the MWW Group proposal prominently featured the governor in the ads.

Following the reports in The Asbury Park Press, Representative Frank Pallone, a Democrat and longtime critic of Mr. Christie, sent a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development asking the agency to looking into the matter.

“While promoting tourism at the Jersey Shore in the wake of Hurricane Sandy is certainly a worthy endeavor, recent reports have led me to believe that the state has irresponsibly misappropriated funding allocated by Congress from the Sandy aid package and taken advantage of this waiver for political purposes,” Mr. Pallone wrote in August.

The New York Times, "Christie Faces Inquiry Into Use of Hurricane Relief Money."

The hits just keep on comin’.

Morning News Read 28 October 2013.

Weekend News Read 27 October 2013.


  • After the devastation wrought by superstorm Sandy I cannot believe there are still idiots complaining that building up seawalls and other coastal protection measures will ruin their view.  Take this account, from Delaware Courier-Post:  ”Earlier this week, the state Supreme Court heard arguments concerning a couple from Harvey Cedars who won a lower court decision granting them more than $370,000 as compensation for having dunes block their view of the ocean. ‘It’s like the new lottery,’ said Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini. ‘They want money to protect their house. Amazing.’”
DE-STRUCTURE  A large crane on Tuesday tore down a roller coaster in Seaside Heights, N.J., that had been in the ocean for six months since superstorm Sandy. (Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images via The Wall Street Journal)

DE-STRUCTURE  A large crane on Tuesday tore down a roller coaster in Seaside Heights, N.J., that had been in the ocean for six months since superstorm Sandy. (Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images via The Wall Street Journal)

Today in Terribly Contaminated Water:

  • "Two years after a triple meltdown that grew into the world’s second worst nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is faced with a new crisis: a flood of highly radioactive wastewater that workers are struggling to contain.”  (NY Times)
  • "Hurricane Sandy’s huge coastal floods flushed 10 billion gallons of sewage into New York and New Jersey’s waterways — and turned most of the shoreline into a filth-filled toilet for days, according to a report set to be released Tuesday. New York and New Jersey released 10 billion gallons of sewage — virtually all of the 11 billion gallons that leaked into rivers, lakes, streams and oceans between Washington, D.C. and Connecticut.” (NY Daily News)

31 Senate Republicans Opposed Sandy Relief After Supporting Disaster Aid For Home States | ThinkProgress »


When the Senate passed the long-delayed $50.5 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package Monday, 36 Republicans voted against the bill. But of the 32 no-votes from Senators who are not brand-new members, at least 31 came from Republicans who had previously supported emergency aid efforts following disasters in their own states.

Most incredible among the no voters were Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Those two had not just backed disaster aid in the past — they actually sought disaster aid for their own states for relief from Hurricane Sandy. And Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) endorsed disaster relief for snow storms damages in Arkansas just four days before casting his “nay” vote.

The “hypocritical” list includes:

1. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH): Requested disaster aid after Hurricane Sandy.
2. John Barrasso (R-WY), Republican Policy Committee Chair: Requested disaster aid after flooding.
3. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Republican Conference Vice Chair: Demanded the Senate be called back from recess to pass disaster aid during a drought and boasts: “When a disaster surpasses the ability of states and communities to rebuild, Senator Blunt believes the federal government should prioritize spending to help the people whose lives and livelihoods are impacted. During his time in the Senate, he has fought tirelessly to ensure that Missouri gets its fair share of those federal resources specifically dedicated to disaster recovery.”
4. John Boozman (R-AR): Requested disaster aid after snow storms in January 2013.
5. Richard Burr (R-NC): Requested disaster aid after severe storms.
6. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA): Requested disaster aid after flooding.
7. Dan Coats (R-IN): Requested disaster aid after tornadoes.
8. Tom Coburn (R-OK): Requested disaster aid after winter storms and for extreme drought.
9. Bob Corker (R-TN): Requested disaster aid after flooding and asked for supplemental emergency flood relief.
10. John Cornyn (R-TX), Republican Minority Whip: Demanded drought relief aid and requested disaster aid for wildfires.
11. Mike Crapo (R-ID): Boasted of obtaining a FEMA fire safety grant and pushed for a bill providing emergency drought relief.
12. Mike Enzi (R-WY): Requested disaster relief after flooding.
13. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): Requested disaster relief after freezing and boasted of obtaining emergency drought relief.
14. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): Requested disaster relief after severe hail storms.
15. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): Requested disaster relief after flooding.
16. James Inhofe (R-OK): Boasted of obtaining disaster relief after severe storms and drought.
17. Johnny Isakson (R-GA): Requested disaster aid after flooding.
18. Mike Johanns (R-NE): Requested disaster relief after flooding and blasted Democrats for “inaction on disaster relief” for drought and wildfires.
19. Ron Johnson (R-WI): Requested disaster relief after a blizzard.
20. Mark Kirk (R-IL): Appealed after FEMA denied assistance following severe storms and tornadoes.
21. Mike Lee (R-UT): After calling federal disaster relief unconstitutional, endorsed relief aid after flooding in Utah.
22. John McCain (R-AZ): Endorsed disaster relief after flooding.
23. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Republican Minority Leader: Requested disaster relief during a drought and after tornadoes.
24. Jerry Moran (R-KS): Requested disaster relief after tornadoes.
25. Rand Paul (R-KY): Requested disaster relief during a drought and after tornadoes.
26. Rob Portman (R-OH): Endorsed disaster relief during a drought and after storms.
27. Pat Roberts (R-KS): Boasted of obtaining disaster relief after drought and wildfires and criticized the Bush administration for inadequate emergency relief after a blizzard.
28. Marco Rubio (R-FL): Requested disaster relief after severe freezing.
29. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): Requested disaster relief after tornadoes and during a drought.
30. John Thune (R-SD), Republican Conference Chair: Requested disaster relief after flooding and snow storms.
31. Pat Toomey (R-PA): Requested disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy before it even hit landfall.

Not one of the opponents has co-sponsored Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) “Extreme Weather Prevention and Resilience Act” which would encourage Congress to “prepare and protect communities from extreme weather, sea-level rise, drought, flooding, wildfire, and other changing conditions exacerbated by carbon pollution” and “reducing pollution, promoting the use of clean energy sources, and improving energy efficiency.”

ThinkProgrss previously reported that at least 37 House Republicans who opposed Sandy relief had also supported disaster aid for their home states.

Vote all these morons out in 2014, 2016, or 2018!

h/t: Josh Israel at ThinkProgress Economy