At a town hall meeting in Brick Township on Thursday, Gov. Chris Christie touted his record in helping to recover from Superstorm Sandy, donned a Girl Scouts t-shirt given to him by a local troop leader and reiterated that he had no knowledge of lane closures at the George Washington Bridge before they occurred last September.
The governor's 120th town hall meeting took place at Lake Riviera Middle School in the Ocean County community, home to a packed – but calm – crowd.
Christie announced that his administration has requested the federal government again extend the
deadline for Sandy victims to submit proof of loss forms to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but has yet to hear back from the agency.
The governor, as he did weeks ago in Berkeley Township, said federal government red tape is holding up New Jersey's storm recovery, as the state is still waiting for an additional plan to distribute $1.4 billion in aid to be approved.
"Congress waited longer than any other disaster in our country’s history to respond," said Christie. "Every day that they waited was a day that added on to the back end of the process."
Christie heard from one homeowner who said without the state's help, he will soon find himself homeless since he is being kicked out of his FEMA-subsidized rental unit.
"On Thursday, I’m out on the street," said the man, a Beach Haven West resident. "If I can’t find somewhere else to go, I’m moving back into my mold-infested house."
Christie said the state Department of Community Affairs is still helping to find housing for displaced residents.
In a departure from previous town hall meetings, Christie addressed the ongoing investigation into the closure of lanes at the George Washington Bridge last September. Since that time, members of Christie's staff have been implicated in a plot to close the lanes, allegedly in retaliation for the Fort Lee mayor refusing to endorse Christie for re-election.
"We’ve had unprecedented transparency into private e-mail accounts, private cell phones, not only of me but of everyone else around me, and no one's found anything from those investigations," said Christie, responding to a question from a Point Pleasant Beach supporter who asked the governor how he should respond to questions posed by friends who do not support Christie.
The governor took aim at critics who say that even if he did not have knowledge about the lane closure, the culture of his administration encouraged such retaliatory tactics.
"The culture of the last few years produced unprecedented bipartisan cooperation," said Christie, pointing to agreements made with Democrats in the state legislature over public employee benefits reform and budgetary measures.
"Four years in a row, we agreed on a budget," Christie said. "All that is done on a bipartisan basis. If I had created a culture where people were going after each other, how did all this get done with both Republicans and Democrats?"
"Mistakes were made, I acknowledge mistakes were made," Christie continued. "Stupid things have been done, I knew nothing about it, and if someone told me I would have told them to stop it."