WASHINGTON, January 13, 2014 — Presidential hopeful and governor of New Jersey Chris Christie is in trouble. Last week it was revealed that members of his staff engaged in petty, bully tactics in retaliation against a mayor who refused to support the governor in his reelection bid. Now it seems that the governor may have misused taxpayer money to pay for a commercial that featured him and his family.
The heart of the scandal is that Christie allegedly passed over a much lower bid from an advertising firm to grant a direct, no-bid contract to a firm which was willing to put the governor in the commercial for an extra $2 million or so.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has decided to direct their inspector general to audit the project. The IG will demand answers and detailed information regarding the allegations of improper use of funds.
The American people deserve answers. If Christie abused his power to punish a local mayor for not supporting him, or if he used federal funds to get himself on camera, he needs to be held accountable. If Republicans want to be taken seriously, they need to be active in these investigations and show the nation that the take such allegations seriously. If the allegations turn out to be true, they must show that they support the law. Anyone who would be corrupt at the state level would be corrupt at the federal level. The American people deserve to know.
While we are at it, why don’t we look at every allegation of corruption and abuse and send federal investigators to look into them.
After Hurricane Sandy, $60 billion were promised to the relief of victims and the rebuilding of the stricken area. Of that $60 billion, perhaps $20 billion made it through, while the rest went to areas of the country and causes that had little or nothing to do with the storm. The original bill included $150 million for fisheries, which did not even have to be in areas impacted by the storm. $3.5 billion went to the Army Corps of Engineers to make provisions against future storms; have they done $3.5 billion in work?
Almost $20 billion went to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for grants to rebuild houses in affected areas, yet as of October, there were still many people who had not received one dime of relief money despite losing their homes. $5.4 billion went to federal transportation grants; where has that money gone, and has the federal government spent it on repairing Hurricane Sandy damage? It has been over a year since the Sandy relief bill was passed, so where is the special investigator here?
President Obama has pledged over $100 million to aid the Syrian rebels in their civil war against President Bashar al-Assad. According to Breitbart.com, which cites USAID numbers on the subject, the United States had given the Syrian Opposition over $1 billion in aid by September. The Syrian Opposition forces are now in a state of internal strife as Islamic groups loyal to al-Qaeda are seizing control of the fight against Assad; they have become the main group to challenge the Syrian president. In November, seven of the largest Islamist rebel groups dissolved and reformed under a single banner, calling themselves the Islamist Front. The IF numbers up to one hundred thousand fighters.
Al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups were responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as the plane which crashed in Pennsylvania. However, the Obama Administration has decided that the opposition groups will receive both lethal and non-lethal aid, and only stopped some aid when the al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, captured key points in the northern part of the country, forcing a halt in aid.
The president has known about the presence of Islamist fighters within the opposition, as it was he himself who waived the statute which would have prevented him from providing aid to known terrorist organizations. He is allowed to waive the law, if he can prove that not providing these groups with aid constitutes a grave and growing threat to the United States. Apparently the president met this burden and gave himself the all-clear to arm terrorists at taxpayer expense.
Under a provision of the Arms Control Export Act, the President of the United States is required, upon waiving the terrorist statute, to provide certain members of Congress and the Senate with end-user reports of who received aid from the United States and where that aid is now. In the case of lethal aid, the president and his team must account for everything on the list they provide, and take every precaution to ensure that such aid is not used against American interests.
Thus far, it does not appear than any such report exists. To all appearances, the United States is now a state sponsor of radical Islamic terrorism in Syria. Little has been explained to us about how supplying terrorists with aid has benefitted us as a nation, or how it has fulfilled the requirement to “acting in the best interest of the United States.” Perhaps an investigator should be assigned to look into the alleged abuses of the Arms Control Export Act, and how $1 billion of taxpayer money has been spent on a war which many see as the United States supporting their own enemy. $1 billion of taxpayer money unaccounted for should be enough to get congressional and public attention, or one can dream. Perhaps if it was only $2 million then people would take notice.
Perhaps the largest and most flagrant violation of public trust in terms of fair use of taxpayer money is Healthcare.gov. This project was awarded to Canadian software company CGI for a no-bid contract of $93 million. CGI is currently under investigation in Canada, as well as several other states in the US for failing to deliver a feasible and affordable product. However, despite this, the United States government saw fit to award them the contract which would support the seminal legislation of the Presidents tenure in office.
Three years and a disastrous rollout later, the price-tag on the project has climbed from $93 million, to roughly $640 million. For the arithmetically disinclined, that is a difference of over a half a billion dollars. As far as the public knows, there is no penalty for liquidated damages, there has been no lawsuit filed to recover the half billion dollars in overages the US taxpayers paid for this defective product. There is no investigation into how one of the executives for CGI is a former classmate of Michelle Obama, or that in 2012 the CEO of CGI made a contribution to President Obama’s reelection campaign. Perhaps the United States should demand that a federal investigator look into CGI and their relationship with the Obama Administration, as well as the half a billion dollars that was spent over contract value. Please, US government and CGI, tell the American people how such an extravagant and enormous sum was spent on a product that does not work properly? And tell us, US government, what you are doing to get that money back.
These are just a few examples of what else the US government should probably look into. When you think of it these things are pretty large in comparison to the $2 million extra dollars spent on what was basically a campaign ad, considering that the Healthcare.gov website cost three hundred times that amount.
This is nothing more than a political move. Why now? Why when scandal has started to creep up on Hillary and Biden that this particular scandal has been released now? How is it possible, that a federal investigation was initiated so quickly on a $2 million indiscretion when it took months to assign investigators for IRS and Benghazi?
As stated above, if Chris Christie is guilty of embezzlement and guilty of organizing the closures of lanes on the George Washington Bridge, then he deserves to face the consequences of those actions. But nothing highlights hypocrisy and blatant political maneuvering more than when the President of the United States sends a government investigator to look into allegations of misuse of power, when he himself has yet to take responsibility for any of his actions.
People with glass houses, shouldn’t throw investigators at governors.