Coming Soon:
Chris Christie Scandal No. 3?

Jersey politicians are like seagulls.
In the wake of “bridgegate,” they’re ready to eat one of their own.

We will see if Chris Christie is indeed “Stronger than the Storm.” I doubt it. This storm is political and it is ugly and mean, at least as powerful as Sandy. I suspect we have not yet seen the worst of it.

First came the allegation that Christie orchestrated a four-day traffic jam as political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey. I wrote about this last week and thought the Governor exonerated himself at an unprecedented two-plus hour news conference. I ended my post with the caveat, “If one word was a lie, he’s done.”

I should have also added the caveat of other scandals surfacing.

Politicians are like seagulls at the Jersey Shore. When my father was a lifeguard in Atlantic City, he watched as seagulls killed and then dined on a wounded member of the flock. The flock is ready to dine on Chris Christie.

And so on the heels of scandal No. 1 come details of scandal No. 2: a federal investigation into Christie using almost 20 percent of federal funds allocated for Hurricane Sandy relief for “Stronger than the Storm” tourism ads that just so happened to play during his gubernatorial re-election campaign. The $4.7 million dollar, slickly produced tourism/campaign ads heavily featured Christie’s family.

Technically, scandal No. 2 is actually scandal No. 1 because the investigation into the ads started before “Bridgegate.” But in the middle of the media’s planning for Christie’s ascension from Governor to President, no one was all that interested in a dust-up for an ad that might have ruined their narrative. But now that Christie has been weakened, the seagulls dusted off the scandal No. 1 and re-leaked and re-packaged it as scandal No. 2.

The governor’s spokesperson Colin Reed claims the leak of the federal probe was timed to hurt the Governor. “Amazing that the inspector general’s investigation leaks now generating the headline ‘Feds investigating Christie’s use of Sandy relief funds’ when the governor is at his lowest point, no?” No. What’s amazing is the Christie administration complaining about being politically bullied right after being caught ham-handedly bullying a political opponent.

The ad scandal is potentially much more damaging to Christie than “Bridgegate.” A traffic jam is one thing, taking money from those devastated by the storm for self-interest is despicable. And I don’t think Christie can credibly make the same claim of ignorance since the “Stronger than the Storm” ads ran everywhere and featured him and his family. Is he going to claim he was drugged? Delirious from weight loss? That his family lied to him? That he never watched TV?

And now that Christie has been weakened even more, what’s next? Political opponents smell blood. Watch for scandal No. 3, whatever it may be, to be leaked next week after the Sunday news shows get a chance to feast on scandal No. 2.

It is important to remember that this is not exclusively a Democratic assault on Christie. The first politician to raise an eyebrow at the Sandy ads was Republican Senator Rand Paul. Christie is chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association. Have you heard one Republican Governor come to his defense? The silence is deafening.

Christie needed to spend as much time making friends with colleagues as he did making friends in the media. No fat joke intended here, but Chris Christie got a little too big for his britches. It seems the flock has spoken and Chris Christie must go.

If he did indeed take Sandy money to promote himself — and I’m not certain there is any way to duck that allegation — he deserves what he gets.

Follow @LarryMendte on Twitter.

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  • Joe from Easton

    I’ve never liked this guy. Slimy Jersey politician. Reminds me of your typical Jersey shore cast member all dressed up with a fancy job. He’s a self-interest based scumbag.

    • Larry Mendte

      Joe, I did like him and wrote a post defending him last week. It is getting more difficult to defend him.

    • DanFromDelcoo

      Did you like his predecessor Jon Corzine? The bum who ran the finances of the state into the ground and is now literally charged with fraud for how he ran MF Global? All politicians can be seen as slimy.

      Christie has done a lot for the state (comparatively) but looks like his national aspirations are a longshot now.

      • Joe from Easton

        I’ll admit that he’s done some good for the state of NJ and honestly I don’t like him more for the reason that I wouldn’t be able to stand someone like him ascending to presidential candidate status. I made that decision when he mothballed an 11 Billion dollar tunnel project that would’ve employed thousands and fulfilled the demand for mass transit in the area that is going to outpace our infrastructure by 2030. I’ll pass on a guy like that running for president.

        As far as corzine; I get your point. Touche`.

        • Joe from Easton

          Let’s not forget the wonderful job growth in NJ under Christie. I think it sits at 47th or 48th in the nation. That’s not good for a densely populated state CENTERED around international commerce. You’ve got one the highest traffic ports in the world in your backyard and you manage to create less jobs than Idaho?

  • Rashad Johnson

    When the people who were directly affected by Sandy stated ,absolutely no money was allocated to repair anything except ,highly trafficked tourist areas ,That got my attention. Also these “stronger than the storm “ads ran on every station seeking donations ,where did all the money go ? There should definitely be transparency .

  • matthew brandley

    When you get caught doing something you shouldnt have been doing and admit it, your a better person for it . So what happend to commy obammy? why is he still around? He always said he never kne until he read the papaer or heard the news? days later he told the press? the gov came right out and admitted when he found out and the media jumps all over him yet Obama is using the irs to trample all over conservative groups and appoints the fbi to look into this and they are now refusing to do anything. So you clowns tell me where is the medias lap dogs priorities in this mess? benghazi? obama knew 15 minutes after and he lied. wheres the media?

  • Brian from Voorhees

    Dan, not quite sure what good Christie has really done for us in Jersey. Unless your wealthy. He has taken care of them. Property taxes are still through the roof. He has never followed through on any of his promises there. Job creation is a joke and our budget shortfalls and debt are going through the roof. When he finally leaves office we may have a bigger mess than when Whitman left.

  • Brian from Voorhees

    I just want to thank Matthew for the very informed comment. Bringing Obama into this is relevant how? Bringing up the IRS scandal which Republicans already admitted was made up is relevant how ? Bringing up Benghazi which has been explained by all involved and proven to be exactly opposite of what you posted relevant how ? This is about a Governor who is a bully and a blowhard who has been caught now in two scandals and can’t even admit he did anything wrong. And he is a Governor who is killing this state. Other than that great post.

    • Santa Maria

      Good point. Obama isn’t really relevant any more, other than the example and precedent he sets in corruptly using the machinery of government to entrench and expand his own power, to damage his political adversaries and to enrich his cronies.

    • DanFromDelcoo

      The IRS scandal was “made up?” New to me. I know it has been largely ignored following the first few days of mandatory news coverage of it. Bridgegate won’t get that benefit of the doubt.

  • Coleen McCrea Katz

    A – The Stronger Than The Storm ad campaign was one of the most successful and popular ones in recent memory and brought millions of dollars back to the state. A state, mind you, that most people outside of the tri-state area thought was “closed”. B – No, Chris Christie isn’t going to claim “he was drugged”. He stated very clearly that he had approval to spend the money on the ad campaign from the federal government. So, he got approval, spent the money, chose an EXTREMELY successful ad campaign and NOW he’s under investigation? I think his political opponents, and that would include Rand Paul, are just a little bit afraid of Chris Christie.

  • Pee Bee

    If only lies ruined politicians. they do it everyday. won’t be surprised if this guy is our next president.

  • Bullwinkle

    I am still bothered by Christie running a second election for the vacant senate seat so that Booker would not take Democrat votes away from him. He wasted several million dollars of state money for his own benefit. He admitted during his marathon news conference that he was trying to “run up the score”. What a hypocrite. NJ comes in second in priority to his personal ambitions.