Christie Spends $4.7M In Sandy Relief Funds On Pseudo Campaign Ads Featuring Himself

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Michael Lotfihttp://brandfireconsulting.com
Michael Lotfi is a Persian-American political analyst and adviser living in Nashville, Tennessee. Lotfi is the founder and CEO of BrandFire Consulting LLC. The firm specializes in public and private technology centered brand development, lead generation, data aggregation, online fundraising, social media, advertising, content generation, public relations, constituency management systems, print and more. Lotfi is the former executive state director for the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center, a think-tank focused on restraining federal overreach. Lotfi graduated with top honors from Belmont University, a private Christian university located in Nashville, Tennessee.

Perhaps no man has fallen from the grace of the GOP faster than NJ Governor Chris Christie.

Tensions have been mounting between the Christie and the GOP. At this year’s CPAC Convention, which hosts some of the greatest names in the conservative party Christie was denied entrance. Christie struck a sour note with conservatives for palling up with Obama during Hurricane Sandy. The bill to send money to victims was full of pork, and republicans wanted to make sure that the money was only going to the victims- not special interests. Christie attacked them for it.chris-christie-and-obama

US senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said that Christie needed to “cool it” with the tantrums. Christie fired back and said that Paul was bringing too much pork home from Washington. Paul countered, calling Christie “The King of Bacon“. It seems the King of Bacon may have just provided warrant for Paul’s claim.

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According to a report in the Asbury Park Press, a new ad campaign dubbed “Stronger Than The Storm” stars Christie and his family. The ad campaign is costing taxpayers almost $5 million. The price tag comes in $2 million higher than a bid denied by the Governor’s administration from a competing firm. The ads are part of a $25 million dollar state tourism fund given to New Jersey in the Sandy relief bill.

“The contract documents shine new light on the role Christie administration officials had in the new TV commercials, which are controversial because they give Christie more exposure during a gubernatorial election year, and also because they introduce him to voters in other states in advance of a possible 2016 presidential campaign. The top official on the selection committee, appointed by Christie, once received a $49,000 loan from Christie when he was the U.S. attorney for New Jersey.”

The heavy payday for MWW (the firm winning the bid)  is $2.2 million higher than what was sought by the competing firm, Sigma Group.  Shannon Morris, president and owner of Sigma Group, said she doesn’t have a clear understanding of how her firm lost the bid. Of the four bidders, MWW and Sigma were selected based on technical scoring by state officials for a final round of negotiations. They were also the two lowest-priced bids.

“I don’t know how you can qualify that as the best value for the state,” Morris said of MWW’s $4.7 million contract compared to Sigma’s $2.5 million offer. “You have two equally reputable firms and it’s debatable if one is better than the other. And in a competition like that it should come down to price, especially when you’re dealing with something as sensitive as Sandy recovery funding. To make a decision that spends $2 million more on agencies leaves me scratching my head. I don’t understand it.”

Here comes the interesting part about the two bidding companies. The two bidders had different views on how the campaign should be run. MWW wanted to put Christie in the ads. The other bidder, Sigma Group, did not. MWW won the contract- regardless of their demanding $2.2 million more. Is it possible that the official, who received a $49,000 loan from the Governor, made a bias decision in choosing ads that featured the Governor during his reelection? Seems likely.

In addition, MWW is a prolific political contributor, mostly to Democrats. However, its employees have given to Christie. Sigma Group hasn’t made political contributions.

Let’s Follow the money

MWW employees donated $1,000 to Christie’s 2009 Republican gubernatorial primary campaign and $1,500 to his 2010 inaugural committee. However, Michael Kempner, MWW’s founder and CEO, leans Democratic. Kempner hosted a political fundraiser for President Barack Obama at his home in Cresskill in 2010 and “bundled” — the term for collecting donations from friends and associates — almost $3.1 million in campaign funds for the Democrat in 2011 and 2012. Also, the MWW Group PAC spent $95,250 in the 2012 federal election cycle,  73 percent of the money going to Democrats. However, the largest single expenditure, $5,000, was paid to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The Star Ledger, a local NJ newspaper says, Gov. Chris Christie’s habit of using his public office to promote his presidential ambitions has reached a new low.”

-Is Christie attempting to exploit federal dollars to promote himself through crony capitalism, or is he attempting to save the NJ tourism industry? Let us know in the comments below.

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