Source: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Press Release, January 15, 2014
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s role in doling out reconstruction monies after Super Storm Sandy needs a thorough independent audit, according to a request filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Office of Inspector General. The organization cites state departures from federal requirements in the $10.5 billion program that have wasted funds or diverted relief from those entitled to it.
Currently, there are at least two federal investigations into New Jersey’s post-storm efforts:
– The no-bid award of an improper piggy-back debris removal master contract to Florida-based AshBritt Inc., at the urging of its lobbyist and Christie supporter former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, is under review by the U.S. Homeland Security Office of Inspector General; and
– The $4.7 million media contract which produced the “Stronger Than the Storm” TV ad campaign featuring Gov. Christie and his family is being probed by the HUD Inspector General, at the request of U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
Citing the fact that a key state auditing-oversight contract of post-Sandy funds was awarded to the law firm headed by David Samson, Christie’s campaign counsel, head of his gubernatorial transition and his appointee to the Board of Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, PEER is asking for federal review of how these funds are being spent. Adding to the incestuous nature of these arrangements, the principal in Samson’s firm overseeing audit management of the state Department of Community Affairs is Lori Grifa, Christie’s director of that same agency from 2010 to 2012. …
– Read the PEER letter to HUD IG
– Look at the Samson firm audit contract, featuring Ms. Grifa
– View Rep. Pallone call for investigation of post-Sandy media marketing contract
– See state jettisoning resilience and transparency requirements
– Examine how state is making Jersey more vulnerable to the next storm
– View latest example of Christie scapegoating
Federal auditors probe use of disaster funds for N.J. ad campaign that featured Christie
Source: Carol D. Leonnig, Washington Post, January 13, 2014
As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tries to control the damage from a major bridge scandal and a federal investigation involving his top aides, federal auditors are launching a separate inquiry into his administration’s use of federal disaster recovery funds for an ad campaign. The auditors are probing why the Christie administration awarded a lucrative $23 million contract to a well-connected firm to produce tourism ads starring the governor and his family. … In August, Rep. Frank Pallone, (D-N.J.) called the use of the funds for the ad campaign “extremely troubling” and asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general to look into why Christie had approved using Sandy recovery funds to highlight himself during an election year. The request came on the heels of an article about the marketing contract’s high cost in a local paper, the Asbury Park Press. Last week, as Christie was fielding a flood of criticism and questions about his knowledge of the snarled bridge traffic, the inspector general’s office notified Pallone that it had found enough credible evidence to begin a full audit of the tourism ads….The N.J. Economic Development Authority, a Cabinet-level agency in the Christie administration that oversees state and federal funds meant to encourage commerce and economic revitalization, awarded the contract. … The cost comparison is in dispute between critics and defenders of the deal. Pallone and other Democrats said the MWW contract cost $2 million more than the next-highest bidder, a firm that had done prominent tourism marketing ads in New York and New Orleans featuring comedian Billy Crystal and musician Harry Connick Jr. The Christie administration has said the overall contract of MWW cost more because it included significantly more work, including labor-intensive, localized events….
Feds probe Christie’s possible misuse of Sandy funds
Source: Al Jazeera and The Associated Press, January 13, 2014
Governor Chris Christie may have spent $2 million more than necessary on an NJ tourism ad during election year … “Had Governor Christie chosen the less expensive firm, $2.2 million in federal disaster aid could have potentially been directed elsewhere, for example, to provide 44 Sandy-impacted homeowners $50,000 grants to raise their homes,” Pallone said in a press release on Monday….
HUD Inspector General Will Audit NJ Tourism Marketing Campaign in Response to Pallone Letter
Source: Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., Press Releases, January 13, 2014
Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. announced today that the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will audit the State of New Jersey’s use of $25 million of Sandy aid funds for a marketing campaign to promote tourism at the Jersey Shore. At issue is the bidding process for the campaign and released documents which raise questions as to why the state chose to award the contract to a firm that charged the state over $2 million more than a comparable bid for similar work….
HUD Probes New Jersey’s ‘Stronger Than The Storm’ Ad Campaign
Timing Of Latest Bombshell Couldn’t Be Worse For Beleaguered Gov. Christie
Source: CBSNewYork/AP, January 13, 2014
…The administration paid $4.7 million to a politically connected public relations company over another firm that had bid $2 million less. The winning bidder proposed using Christie in the ads, while the other bidder did not….