Christie campaign should reimburse Hurricane Sandy relief fund for tourism ads

It now appears that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) may have used funds earmarked to help victims of Hurricane Sandy for tourism ads he starred in during his reelection campaign.

If this is true, the Christie campaign fund should reimburse the money, which should then be sent to New Jersey victims of the hurricane.

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It is not rare, and not inherently wrong, for governors to star in tourism ads for their states. If the latest allegations are true, and funds designated for hurricane relief were used for tourism ads, this is different and creates two huge problems for Christie.

First, obviously, it would be a rip-off of Sandy victims if the governor used money designed to help them to advance himself politically. Second, any tourism ads used during an election year for purposes that helped a partisan campaign would be a misuse to taxpayer money appropriated to promote a state.

Now the inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development has found enough evidence to warrant a formal investigation of this matter.

My suggestion for Christie is simple: His campaign fund should pay back the money now if it used funds for hurricane relief to create television ads starring Christie. Once the money has been returned by the Christie campaign, it can be distributed where it should have been all along, to New Jersey citizens hurt by the hurricane.

This drip-drip-drip of scandal allegations may soon become a hurricane of political damage that will drive Christie from the presidential campaign. And the sooner he acts, the better for him and the better for New Jersey.