Washington, DC -- Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. announced today that the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will audit the State of New Jersey's use of $25 million of Sandy aid funds for a marketing campaign to promote tourism at the Jersey Shore. At issue is the bidding process for the campaign and released documents which raise questions as to why the state chose to award the contract to a firm that charged the state over $2 million more than a comparable bid for similar work.
When drafting its Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Action Plan, the State of New Jersey requested a waiver to spend $25 million of its CDBG award on a marketing campaign to promote the Jersey Shore and encourage tourism, to which HUD agreed. In a letter sent August 8, 2013, Congressman Pallone wrote to HUD Inspector General David A. Montoya to request an investigation into the utilization of this federal funding and whether it was spent appropriately.
"I commend the HUD Office of the Inspector General for investigating whether the state properly utilized taxpayer funds for this marketing campaign," Pallone said. "Working with my New Jersey colleagues, we had to fight hard to get the Sandy aid package passed by assuring others in Congress the funding was desperately needed and would be spent responsibly. I also raised concerns that Governor Christie and his family appeared in taxpayer-funded advertisements during an election year."
Last year, in response to Pallone's letter, HUD's Office of the Inspector General conducted a survey, or basic review, of the matter in order to determine if an audit of the State of New Jersey's actions was warranted. Last week, the Inspector General's office notified Pallone that they have found enough evidence to justify a full-scale audit of the state's usage of the federal funds. The audit will be complete in several months at which time an official report will be issued.