Amid growing public frustration, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defended his family’s use of a beach that he had closed to the public — suggesting that they were free to run for governor as well.
“I’m sorry they’re not the governor,” Christie told “Good Day Philadelphia” Monday morning.
Christie sarcastically suggested that this latest “incredible scandal” is really nothing more than the press catching a politician “keeping his word” because he had already announced his vacation plans.
He also dismissed the Star-Ledger newspaper, which on Monday featured a photo of Christie lounging on the beach on its front page. “I’m sure they will get a Pulitzer for this one,” he quipped, according to NJ.com.
— Matt Arco (@MatthewArco) July 3, 2017
The embattled Republican ordered a government shutdown amid a state budget standoff with the Democrat-controlled legislature. This resulted in the closing of state parks and beaches.
Christie had in fact told the press that he intended to spend a long Fourth of July weekend at the governor’s summerhouse at Island Beach State Park last week. It’s one of the privileges — along with Drumthwacket, the official residence of the governor in Princeton, N.J. — of being the state’s chief executive.
When a reporter asked Saturday if it’s fair that his family would be free to use the state beach while others would not, Christie was characteristically blunt: “Run for governor, and you can have a residence there.”
The backlash occurred after NJ.com photojournalist Andrew Mills snapped pictures of the Christie family lounging on the beach Sunday afternoon. He said NJ Advance Media had booked a plane to capture photographs of crowded beaches juxtaposed with empty, closed beaches.
“But when Sunday’s weather looked good, and the governor’s schedule was open except for an afternoon press briefing in Trenton, I wondered, ‘What are the chances…?’” he wrote for NJ.com.
And it’s not just political opponents who were frustrated with Christie’s beach trip. Even his top deputy, Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who is running to replace the unpopular governor, released a statement on Monday expressing dismay with his decision.
“If I were governor, I sure wouldn’t be sitting on the beach if taxpayers didn’t have access to state beaches. It’s beyond words.
We need to end the shutdown now. It’s hurting small businesses and ordinary New Jerseyans. Instead of political games, Governor Christie, Speaker Prieto and Senate President Sweeney should pass a budget that delivers property tax relief and puts taxpayers first.”
Despite his beach outing, Christie told the media that he did not get any sun on Sunday.
“I didn’t,“ he said. “I didn’t get any sun today.”
After the pictures were published, Brian Murray, the governor’s spokesman, conceded that he was on the beach briefly to talk to his wife and family before heading to the office, but reiterated that he “did not get any sun.”
“He had a baseball hat on,” Murray said.
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