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Audit of Sandy Ad Campaign Launched by HUD [AUDIO]

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) is applauding the federal department of Housing and Urban Development for auditing Gov. Chris Christie‘s administration, which decided to spend $2 million more than needed for a series of “Stronger than the Storm” advertisements that aired last summer.

Governor Chris Christie
Governor’s Office, Tim Larsen

The ads were created following the destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy.

“I don’t think it was necessary to spend an extra $2 million in order to put his name and his family in the ads,” Pallone said. “I don’t think it was more effective.”

Pallone said the money came from Community Development Block Grant funds that could have been used to help those affected by the hurricane.

“It could have been given to homeowners to raise their homes, to businesses for their inventory, to businesses to restore,” Pallone said. “It could also be given to towns to do work on their boardwalks.”

Pallone was also unhappy about the timing of the ads, which ran at the height of campaign season with the governor running for re-election.

“We’ve got all kinds of celebrities in the state of New Jersey — Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi — what do we need to use the governor and his family for and spend the extra money?” Pallone asked. “Money is money, and eventually it runs out.”

A spokesman for the governor said the Christie administration welcomes the audit, calling it “routine and standard,” and said it helped the Garden State get back on its feet.

Late Monday, the governor’s office put out a press release authored by MWW, the agency of record for the “Stronger than the Storm” campaign. The filing showed that the campaign was a big success, and New Jersey’s 2013 summer vacation season was much stronger than expected.

According to the release, publicly available and objective third-party data on hotel tax receipts, hospitality employment, beach pass sales, hotel occupancy rates, and transit activity illustrate that despite the challenges of the storm and recovery, the tourism industry was not only able to overcome low expectations, but grow and expand in several areas.

The report is a preliminary assessment of several tourism industry metrics following the 2013 tourism season. A more complete analysis, with additional data on New Jersey’s performance last year, is expected this spring.

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