New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was photographed lounging at a deserted state-owned beach on Sunday — a beach that has been closed to all other New Jerseyans amid a government shutdown that Christie ordered Friday.
The photos, which were posted to NJ Advance Media’s NJ.com, showed Christie and his family hanging out at the Island Beach State Park on Sunday afternoon before Christie appeared in Trenton for a press conference on the shutdown.
Christie defended his use of the beach Monday, saying he had previously announced his vacation plans and the media had simply “caught a politician keeping his word.”
Christie on Friday ordered the shutdown of nonessential services — including state parks — amid a stalemate over whether to include legislation affecting the state’s largest health insurer in the budget. (Christie’s administration placed the photo of Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto — whom it’s blaming for the shutdown — on signs announcing the parks are closed.)
The shutdown took effect Saturday, shuttering parks and other public sites and disrupting ferry service to Liberty and Ellis islands.
Also closed was Island Beach State Park, where the state owns a residence that the governor can use.
Christie said earlier this week that he and his family were planning to be there for the Fourth of July holiday. (He had amended that Friday to say he would stay in Trenton this weekend if government remained shut down, but that his family would still go.)
Asked Saturday if it was fair for his family to be able to use the park while others couldn’t, Christie was defiant.
‘‘The governor has a residence at Island Beach,’’ he said. ‘‘Others don’t. That’s the way it goes. Run for governor and you can have the residence.’’
During a press conference in Trenton later Sunday, Christie was reportedly asked if he got any sun that day. The governor replied that he hadn’t.
As the photos came to light, a Christie spokesman stood by Christie’s statement, saying, “He did not get any sun. He had a baseball hat on,” according to NJ.com.
During the Sunday press conference, Christie also said that he flew on a state helicopter to the residence.
‘‘That’s where my family is sleeping so that’s where I’ll sleep,’’ he said. ‘‘When I have a choice between sleeping with my family or sleeping alone, I generally like to sleep where my family is.’’
In what appears to be an unfortunate choice of words on Christie’s part, the governor also posted a video tweet Sunday evening about the budget impasse accompanied by the phrase, “I’m not the person who has drawn a line [in] the sand here.”
I’m not the person who has drawn a line the sand here. https://t.co/dJmapywYjm— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) July 2, 2017
The photos — and Christie’s statement about the governor’s residence — had some people pretty upset with him.
Chris Christie & guests enjoying NJ beach — after he ordered state beaches closed to the public over a budget fight https://t.co/aD3pkhT4vF pic.twitter.com/JkAh31BG08— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) July 2, 2017
I think this may be empirical proof that Chris Christie actually wants his approval ratings to go into the single digits. https://t.co/JpSh45UwWr— David Sirota (@davidsirota) July 2, 2017
Just look at us! Right and left. Conservative and liberal. All coming together to bash Chris Christie. We are truly one America 🇺🇸— Marie Connor (@thistallawkgirl) July 2, 2017
The image of a grotesque Chris Christie sunning himself on an empty state beach he closed is an evocative metaphor for our era of politics pic.twitter.com/TCZbXn17nx— Dan O'Sullivan (@Bro_Pair) July 2, 2017
“That’s the way it goes. Run for governor and you can have the residence.” How @ChrisChristie sees NJites: as peons https://t.co/d3OaBh3J0R— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) July 2, 2017
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.