Christie and his family starred in ads for New Jersey tourism after Sandy
New Jersey Democratic Rep. Pallone said he was concerned about bidding process
Christie fired two aides last week over the George Washington Bridge scandal
NEW: Christie's office says it worked with the Obama administration on marketing plan
Just days after dismissing two top advisers for their roles in the George Washington Bridge scandal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie faced questions over the use of Superstorm Sandy relief funds.
CNN has learned that federal officials are investigating whether Christie improperly used some of that money to produce tourism ads that starred him and his family.
The news couldn’t come at a worse time for the embattled Republican, who is facing two probes in New Jersey of whether his staff orchestrated traffic gridlock near the country’s busiest bridge to punish a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse his re-election.
If the Sandy inquiry by a watchdog finds any wrongdoing, it could prove even more damaging to Christie’s national ambitions. He’s considered a possible presidential candidate in 2016.
His performance during and after the October 2012 storm just before the presidential election has been widely praised and is a fundamental illustration of his straight-shooting political brand.
In the new investigation, federal auditors will examine New Jersey’s use of $25 million in Sandy relief funds for a marketing campaign to promote tourism at the Jersey Shore, New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone told CNN
In an August letter, Pallone asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general to look into how Christie chose to spend the marketing money approved by the department.
The inspector general’s office confirmed the investigation.
Pallone wrote that he was concerned about the bidding process for the firm awarded the marketing plan; the winning firm is charging the state about $2 million more than the next lowest bidder.
The winning bid of $4.7 million featured Christie and his family in the advertisements while the losing $2.5 million proposal did not feature the Christies, Pallone said.
On Sunday, Pa