Christie Defends Wife Over Sandy Relief Charity

by | March 12, 2013 7:51 pm

NewLetters[1]New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is finding himself in an unusual position: on the defensive with regards to Superstorm Sandy.

More specifically, Christie has been defending his wife, Mary Pat Christie, and the charity she heads, against charges that they have not released funds fast enough[2] to help victims of Superstorm Sandy.

The irony of this is not lost on some political pundits. Christie, after all, became a popular national figure[3] after his withering criticism of Congress for their slow response to the storm.

Yesterday, Christie responded to a story in the Asbury Park Press stating that the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund had raised $32 million[4], but not had distributed any money yet. Spokespeople for the fund stated that, in fact, $1 million had already been distributed, that money will only go to non-profit relief groups, and that the most important thing was not to release funds quickly, but to make sure they landed in the right hands.

Christie seconded those comments, and added:

“I think she’s been very clear and was very clear over the weekend that her concept of this fund from the beginning, which all the donors were told, was that this would be a long-haul organization, not one that would jump in and throw a lot of money at the problem early, but one that would be there for the next two years or so.”

Christie’s wife is not actually a member of the charity’s panel awarding grants, even though she was quoted in the Asbury Park Press story defending the charity’s policies on relief money.

“I have taken excruciating steps to make sure that we give the money out in a really judicious way…You want accountability, you get accountability when you go through a methodical structure. So, in three years when I’m still distributing money at Hurricane Sandy Relief, ask me if we’re doing enough.”

Another reason for the slow speed in releasing money has been the presence of other charities, such as the Red Cross, in the area providing assistance.

Some New Jersey citizens have been critical of the charity’s delay in releasing funds, asking what the group is doing with the money if it is not giving it to people or organizations in the area helping Sandy victims. They also point out that the process of recovery is still slow, and that every bit of money would help speed things up.

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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