The governor of the eastern U.S. state of New Jersey, Chris Christie, is being widely criticized after photos of him emerged relaxing on Island Park State Beach, which was closed to the public as part of a shutdown of nonessential government services as the state tries to pass a budget.
The partial government shutdown is a result of a budget impasse in which the state legislature has not passed a health insurance bill along with the state’s annual budget. The governor wants insurer Horizon Cross Blue Shield to provide $300 million to fight the state’s drug addiction problem, but says he will sign any budget sent to him at this point.
Christie says without a budget he is forced to cut state services.
The aerial photos taken by NJ Advance Media show the governor and some family members on the beach Sunday.
Later in the day, at a news conference about the budget face off Christie was asked if he had gotten any sun. “I did not get any sun today,” he said.
After the photos emerged a spokesman for the governor said he was on the beach briefly talking to his wife and family, but said Christie did not get any sun because he "had a baseball hat on."
Christie had said he was spending the holiday weekend at the governor’s residence at Island Park and was commuting by helicopter to the state capital as the budget negotiations continued.
"I traveled there and I traveled back and I'll travel back again," Christie said. "That's where my family is sleeping, so that's where I'll sleep tonight. When I have a choice between sleeping with my family, and sleeping alone, I generally like to sleep where my family is."
He said he would not be using any state services while at the residence.
On Monday, Christie tweeted in response to the controversy.