Feds probe Christie’s use of federal money in costly ad campaign

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SEA BRIGHT, New Jersey (PIX11) — There is no stretch of coastline along the Eastern seaboard that relied more on tourism last summer than the Jersey Shore.

Which is why the “Stronger than the Storm” campaign resonated with so many that understand the significance of the tourism industry to the area.

However, there were some who were not fond of the actual marketing rollout. Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long is one of them, “I personally was not a fan of the ad campaign.”

As Mayor Long strolled past PIX 11 News with some of the rebuilding along Center Street, the Mayor said the following about a new Federal probe surrounding the ads and Governor Christie, “I don’t see anything new there.”

Although Mayor Long admits she had no indication of Governor Christie potentially starring in a multi-million dollar campaign, the Democratic Mayor sees nothing new for one simple reason, “I served as an advisory group member to the White House Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and part of that task force role was to approve the New Jersey action plan for spending the HUD recovery money.”

Now while Governor Christie’s office on Monday referred to the “action plan” more so as a “review” rather than a “probe,” The Sigma Group and its President, Shannon Morris, issued the following quote to PIX 11 News, “The fact that the price discrepancy was so vast made it extremely disappointing and frustrating.”

Price discrepancy?

Well this appears to be the primary point of contention and the genesis for the probe.

The Sigma Group, who was one two firms that made a play for the contract, partnered with the agency that produced the spots for the city of New Orleans following Katrina.  Their proposal came in  $2.2 million dollars less than the firm that created the ad with Governor Christie in a starring role.

Morris says The Sigma Group hasn’t been contacted by the Feds yet but added, “The fact that it wasn’t more transparent made it even more disappointing.”

As for Mayor Long, there has been speculation in Democratic circles that following “Bridgegate” she was no long supporting the man she crossed party lines for to endorse last year, Governor Christie.  Long told PIX 11 News that the speculation is without merit and she continues to be in the Governor’s corner, “What happened in Fort Lee is unfortunate and wrong and scary but that doesn’t change the Sandy response one bit.”

Governor Christie is set to deliver the State of the State on Tuesday.