New Jersey residents were already upset over the closure of all state parks, beaches and camping areas right before the July 4 holiday, as a result of a state government shutdown.
The shutdown was announced Friday, after Governor Chris Christie and the Democrat-led Legislature failed to agree on a new budget.
Saturday and Sunday, with all the beaches closed to the public, Governor Christie, along with his family and friends, were spotted enjoying a deserted beach at Island Beach State Park.
The perk comes with the job, as the governor has use of a state-owned six-bedroom home right on the beach.
When reporters questioned his decision Saturday to use the beach while shutting the rest of the public out, the governor retorted, “The governor has a residence at Island Beach. Others don’t,” Christie said. “Run for governor and you can have the residence.”
He excused it by confirming they weren’t getting any special “services.” “They’re still not requesting services,” he said of his family using the beach. “And they will continue to not request services. I don’t know exactly what services we get, but they will not be requesting services.”
State police guard the property, and are not subject to the shutdown.
“That’s where my family is sleeping, so that’s where I’ll sleep tonight,” Christie stated Sunday afternoon. “When I have a choice between sleeping with my family and sleeping alone, I generally like to sleep where my family is.”
When asked at the Sunday press conference if he had spent any time in the sun, Christie denied it, but then after being told about the photo that caught him right on the beach, his spokesman, Brian Murray, admitted the governor had spent time on the beach.
“Yes, the governor was on the beach briefly today, talking to his wife and family before heading into the office. He did not get any sun. He had a baseball hat on.”
Monday, Christie continued to defend his use of the state-owned property and private beach, and mocked the media making such an issue of it.
In a telephone interview, the New Jersey governor told Monday’s Good Day New York, “The governor is allowed to go to his residences and I’m at my residences. I’ll tell you this, I said last Monday, a week ago today, that no matter what happens, we were coming here as a family this weekend.”
Commenting on the media posting photos of his family and friends enjoying themselves on the beach, Christie said, “What a great bit of journalism by The Star-Ledger. They actually caught a politician being where he said he was going to be with the people he said he was going to be with, his wife and children and their friends. I am sure they will get a Pulitzer for this one,” Christie said. “They caught me doing what I said I was going to do with the people I said I was going to be with.”
He said if the legislature would pass a budget, he would sign it and the beaches would all be open.
“I really wonder about journalism, who spend money flying planes to look for people who are where they said they would be,” Christie mockingly stated.
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