New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s appearance in post-Superstorm Sandy TV ads comes close to violating campaign laws, according to a state lawmaker leading an investigation of the governor.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D) on Tuesday said that the ads, which aired while Christie (R) ran for reelection last year, were “an improper expenditure.” Christie faces a federal investigation over his use of disaster relief funds on the ads.
"When the governor is running for reelection, to use his image relentlessly in those ads, borders on at least a campaign law violation," Wisniewski said during an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos.
A federal auditor will examine whether the $25 million marketing campaign designed to boost tourism at the Jersey shore miused federal dollars. Wisniewski said that the ads were about more than just tourism.
"He should not be using those funds to advertise himself during the middle of a general election campaign, and that's what he did."
Wisniewski is head of a special investigative committee that has been given subpoena power to look into another Christie-related scandal: politically motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.
A Christie spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. His office a has said the timing of the Sandy investigation is politically motivated, and that its disaster relief plan was approved by the Obama administration.
“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,” spokesman Colin Reed said in a statement on Monday.
With regard to the bridge scandal, Wisniewski has raised the specter of impeachment for Christie — if he was aware of his staff’s efforts to shut down lanes in an effort to exact revenge on a Democratic rival. But Wisniewski said Tuesday that his committee still has to conduct its investigation to determine Christie’s involvement.
"I think he's not telling the whole story, and I think we need to go step by step," Wisniewski said. "There are a lot of questions we have to answer first before we get to the governor."
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.