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.
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