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Did Christie Use Hurricane Relief Funds to Help Himself Get Reelected?

by Stephen C. Webster

Federal investigators are looking into whether New Jersey Governor Chris Christie used Hurricane Sandy relief funds to help get himself reelected.

CNN reported Monday that investigators are looking into the governor’s use of Sandy relief funds for a series of commercials that cost $25 million, designed to promote tourism and the rebuilding of Jersey Shore. Christie starred in the ads just before he was up for reelection, and faced significant criticism because of it.

Watch one of those commercials:

"This was money that could have directly been used for Sandy recovery," Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone, who requested the investigation in August, 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."

The expenditures are being examined by the inspector general of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Word of the investigation could not come at a worse time for Christie, who has spent the better part of the last two weeks fending off allegations that he and his aides caused a massive traffic jam on the Fort Lee side of the George Washington Bridge in an act of political retribution.

Although Christie has fired a top aide and personally apologized to Fort Lee’s mayor, a question still remains as to what really motivated his administration’s behavior. A leading theory is that someone in the administration was upset that the mayor of Fort Lee, a Democrat, refused to endorse Christie.

However, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow posed an alternate theory recently, explaining that the traffic jam may have been created in response to the actions of New Jersey Senate Democrats, who’ve infuriated the governor by refusing all of his judicial nominees.

Senator Loretta Weinberg is the leader of New Jersey’s Senate Democrats, and she also happens to represent Fort Lee. An email giving the order for the traffic jam was also sent one day after Christie called New Jersey’s Senate Democrats “animals,” and refused to allow a conservative New Jersey Supreme Court Justice to go before them for renomination.

“Until someone who knows the actual truth about this speaks, it remains a wide open question,” Maddow said last Thursday.

Perhaps now the better term would be “questions.”

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