Christie’s Spokesman: ‘Stronger Than the Storm’ Approved by Obama Administration

by Jim Geraghty

Governor Chris Christie’s deputy communications director, Colin Reed, issues a statement about the “Stronger Than the Storm” campaign that . . . er, cites the Campaign Spot:

Good Morning –

If you’re reporting on the “conveniently-timed announcement” from Congressman Pallone this morning, please see the following on-the-record response from me:

“The Stronger Than The Storm campaign was just one part of the first action plan approved by the Obama Administration and developed with the goal of effectively communicating that the Jersey Shore was open for business during the first summer after Sandy. Federal agency reviews are routine and standard operating procedure with all federally allocated resources to ensure that funds are distributed fairly. We’re confident that any review will show that the ads were a key part in helping New Jersey get back on its feet after being struck by the worst storm in state history.”

Attached for your background is the relevant section of the Action Plan showing what the Obama Administration approved in connection with the tourism marketing campaign.

Further, the effectiveness of the ad campaign has already been praised by the Obama Administration at a Senate hearing last November:

In November 2013, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan Said These Campaigns “Are Effective In Growing Economic Development In Those Areas And Therefore They Actually Reduce The Cost Of Recovery To The Federal Government”

SECRETARY SHAUN DONOVAN: “. . . There has been an effort in a number of states, not just in Sandy, but historically as well in many, many prior storms to encourage economic development and we did see a small amount of CDBG money that was used for an economic development campaign to encourage people back to the beaches. . . . The evidence that we have seen is that those campaigns are effective in growing economic development in those areas and therefore they actually reduce the cost of recovery to the federal government. . . . The Community Development Block Grant is a very flexible program. This is clearly within the legal boundaries of what Congress has determined the program can be used for and it was demonstrated to us that this could be an effective tool and actually lower the cost to the federal government.” (Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Subcommittee Hearing on Hurricane Sandy, 11/6/13)

New Jersey Voters And Business Leaders Also Praised The Ad Campaign

63 Percent Of New Jerseyans Believe It Is Appropriate For The Governor To Appear In The Stronger Than The Storm Ads. (Monmouth University Poll, 8/21/13)

Robert Hilton, Executive Director Of The Jersey Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau: “It’s good that we have the campaign. We have a message and it’s strong, and people will see that we’re open for business after Sandy despite what they’ve believed,” said Hilton, who added that featuring Christie will help draw tourists because “his popularity is going to help us.” (Bob Jordan, “N.J. governor gets star billing in state’s tourism ads,” Asbury Park Press, 5/20/13)

The Associated Press: “Tourism promoters say the state’s advertising campaign to let people know the Jersey shore was open for business this year was good. . . . Numerous tourism officials all said they liked New Jersey’s ‘Stronger Than The Storm’ ads, featuring Gov. Chris Christie. . . . The tourism promoters did not blame the state for starting the ads too late. But they did say a new campaign needs to be rolled out as soon as possible.” (Wayne Parry, “Marketers: NJ post-Sandy ads good but too late,” Associated Press, 12/12/13)

Finally, Jim Geraghty over at NRO notes the interesting timing of this whole incident:

Could somebody please mention this to that ninny who spent last week insisting I was on a crusade to destroy Christie on behalf of Ted Cruz?

UPDATE: Representative Frank Pallone responds:

Pallone dismissed the assertions of a Christie spokesman that the announcement about the inquiry was “conveniently-timed,” an apparent reference to the revelations that one of the governor’s top aides was involved in a conspiracy to close lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge for what appears to have been political purposes. The congressman said he was informed of the audit in recent days and said there was “no correlation” between the two subjects.

To clarify, the HUD inspector general is asked to investigate back in August . . . four months pass . . . the HUD IG informs Pallone that the investigation will go forward “in recent days” as the bridge controversy dominates national news, and Pallone concludes that means there’s “no correlation”?

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