A Conveniently Timed Announcement from HUD About Christie

by Jim Geraghty

The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development leaks word of investigations with amazingly convenient timing.

May 2013: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his family are starring in television commercials that are part of a publicly funded $25 million tourism campaign to encourage people to visit the Jersey Shore after Superstorm Sandy, but Democrats say they are simply taxpayer-funded campaign ads.”

You can see one of the ads featuring Christie here:

August 2013: Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democrat who ran for Senate last year, calls for “an investigation into the contract and bidding process used by Governor Chris Christie for the marketing campaign to promote the Jersey Shore and encourage tourism.”

The public hears little about any investigation for a long while. In November, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) took a jab at the ads in a Senate hearing, declaring, “when people who are trying to do good and trying to use taxpayer dollars wisely they are offended to see our money spent on political ads. You know that’s just offensive.”

Last week: Christie gets embroiled in the controversy over the closing of access lanes to the bridge.

Yesterday: “Pallone told CNN that the inspector general conducted a preliminary review of the spending and concluded that there was enough evidence to launch a full-scale investigation into the state’s use of federal funds. The audit will take several months, and the findings will be issued in an official report, he said. Pallone, a 27-year veteran of the House and vocal Christie critic, said this is not about politics.”

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?

UPDATE: Louise Mensch reminds us of the “California: Find Yourself Here” ads, featuring then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the tourism-promotion video produced by the U.S. State Department in May 2012 that featured portions of a speech by President Obama:

ANOTHER UPDATE: Louise Mensch finds another classic of the genre, from one of Christie’s predecessors:

One can argue that a governor or other elected official appearing in tourism ads represents a form of backdoor political advertising for incumbents, and ought to be discouraged as an unfair or unwise use of taxpayer dollars. But you can’t argue that Christie’s use is uniquely scandalous, and it seems a little convenient for an administration’s inspector general to suddenly treat it as potentially criminal now.