Chris Christie Caught Sunbathing After Closing All State Beaches over July Fourth Weekend – Vanity Fair
Thousands of people found themselves locked out of New Jersey’s state-run parks and beaches over the July Fourth weekend after America’s least-popular governor, Chris Christie, ordered a government shutdown Saturday morning over a budget standoff with the state Assembly. Christie has called for emergency legislative sessions to resolve his fight with Speaker Vincent Prieto, who is blocking the governor’s plan to use reserve funds from the state’s largest health insurer to pay for opioid-addiction treatment programs—an initiative that the Democratic-controlled State Senate already partially approved. In the meantime, he is using his taxpayer-funded helicopter to fly back and forth from Trenton to the governor’s residence in Island Beach State Park, where Christie, in a bit of stunningly poor optics, has apparently been sunbathing with his family—enjoying having the entire island to himself while the rest of New Jersey is fuming over being denied access to state beaches.
Normally, the Jersey shores are the pride of the Garden State, even when they are not. Now, the battle over the state beaches is quickly turning into Christie’s Waterloo as the governor—whose approval rating is already a record 15 percent—makes a bid for infamy that will long outlast his rapidly-ending tenure. Clinching the governor’s fate were a series of 22 photos published Sunday night by the New Jersey Star-Ledger, whose photographer had originally booked a plane to “shoot the crowded beaches, juxtaposed with the empty stretches of sand that were off-limits because of the government shutdown.” Instead, Andrew Mills ended up catching Christie sunbathing on government property. “There Christie was, with family and friends, on a long and empty stretch of beach near the governor’s shore residence, nobody else within a country mile,” he wrote.
The juxtaposition was even more brutal than the Star-Ledger had hoped for:
After seeing the photos of Christie apparently making ample use of public property while barring everyone else, residents of New Jersey blew up up on social media. But the best response came from Christie, himself, and his team. During a press conference in Trenton shortly after his beach romp, Christie, who officially does not care about his 15 percent approval rating, told reporters that he “didn’t get any sun today.” When shown the photos of Christie on the beach, however, his spokesman Brian Murray quickly shot down the press corps with the classic, brash sort of condescension that originally made Christie a rising star in the Republican Party. “He did not get any sun. He had a baseball hat on.”