The Inspector General's office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is investigating whether or not New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) used Hurricane Sandy relief money wrongly to produce TV ads starring himself and his family in August 2013.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) told CNN that federal auditors are looking into how Gov. Christie used $25 million of Hurricane Sandy relief money that was spent on “a marketing campaign to promote the Jersey Shore and encourage tourism.”
According to the New Jersey Star Ledger, MWW, an ad firm that was politically connected to Gov. Christie, created the commercials starring Gov. Christie and his family (video below).
"This was money that could have directly been used for Sandy recovery," Rep. 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."
Rep. Pallone claims the winning bid for the marketing plan featuring Gov. Christie and his family cost $2 million more than the losing ad firm's proposal, which did not feature the governor.
Gov. Christie's Deputy Communications Director Colin Reed told the National Review that the "Stronger Than The Storm" ad campaign was "developed with the goal of effectively communicating that the Jersey Shore was open for business during the first summer after Sandy."
"Federal agency reviews are routine and standard operating procedure with all federally allocated resources to ensure that funds are distributed fairly," added Reed. "We’re confident that any review will show that the ads were a key part in helping New Jersey get back on its feet after being struck by the worst storm in state history.”
Sources: National Review, New Jersey Star Ledger, CNN