Christie faces questions about Sandy ads, and other forms of "payback"


Governor Chris Christie intended to use today's State of the State address to get beyond the George Washington Bridge controversy, but now, another New Jersey mayor is accusing the governor's inner circle of taking political revenge.

Also, a new poll finds nearly half of New Jersey residents think the potential presidential candidate has not been completely honest about the bridge incident and now, Christie faces questions about $25 million in federal money, used for television ads last year.

The ads that are getting a closer look from federal auditors were meant to boost tourism in New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy, but Christie is being accused of misusing federal sandy funds to boost his re-election campaign. The commercials featured Christie and his family and aired when he was running for re-election last year. 

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said the contract to make the ads was won by a firm that promised to include the governor, even though its bid was more expensive.

“I don't think there's any question that this was an effort to promote him,” said Pallone. “The problem is it was at the expense of tax money that could have been used that could have been used for other Sandy purposes.”

However, MWW, the agency responsible for the ads, told CBS News its proposal was nearly $1.5 million cheaper than the competition, saying "The decision to include the governor was arrived at after the contract was awarded, based on timing, availability, and federal expenditure rules."

A spokesman for Christie defended the ads, calling the federal audit "routine."

Meanwhile, newly-released documents suggest the same members of Christie’s inner circle implicated in the George Washington Bridge scandal may have also targeted another Democratic mayor last year, Steven Fulop of Jersey City.

The day after he was elected, Fulop received a text from governor Chris Christie's longtime political adviser, Bill Stepien.

"...Congratulations on a tremendous job ...,” Stepien wrote. “... Let me know if we can help set up any meetings for you in Trenton ..."

Then, in June, Christie’s then-deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, emailed Fulop to say she was arranging meetings with top Christie officials.

On July 18, 2013, Fulop decided he would not support Christie's re-election bid and within hours, five meetings were cancelled. Fulop tried to re-schedule, but was ignored. He believes it was payback.

Stepian and Kelly were ousted last week for their roles in the bridge scandal, but Christie denied any ill intent against Fulop.

“There's going to be back and forth,” said Christie. “There's going to be meetings cancelled. There's going to be public disagreements, but the fact of the matter is we've continued to work with Jersey City over the course of time - since he's been mayor.”

The New Jersey State Assembly in Trenton plans to form a special committee to investigate the bridge controversy and a new round of subpoenas is expected to be issued on Thursday.