Chris Christie enjoyed a closed beach, then got flamed. But he definitely did not get a tan – Washington Post

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) ordered a government shutdown of nonessential services on June 30 after he and the legislature failed to enact a budget. (Chris Christie)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) would like you to know that he definitely did not get a tan this weekend.

Yes, Christie told reporters at a Sunday news conference in Trenton, his family was staying in the state-owned beach house at Island Beach State Park over the July 4 weekend — even though the park was closed to the public amid a statewide government shutdown.

He had been unapologetic about that gubernatorial perk the day before: “That’s the way it goes,” Christie said Saturday. “Run for governor, and you can have the residence.”

And, yes, he had joined his family at said state-owned beach house, flying between the barrier island and Trenton using a state helicopter. But when asked if he got any sun, Christie was clear.

“I didn’t,” he said Sunday, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. “I didn’t get any sun today.”

That was before the newspaper showed the governor aerial photos of himself and his family relaxing on a very large and otherwise empty (because it was closed) portion of the state beach. The exclusive photos were published Sunday evening on NJ.com, sparking outrage from New Jersey residents already upset about the state’s budget impasse.

The slide show also prompted the equivocation of the year from Christie’s spokesman, Brian Murray. “He did not get any sun,” Murray told the Star-Ledger. “He had a baseball hat on.”

Gov. Chris Christie and family soak up sun on state beach he closed to the public. @AndyMills_NJhttps://t.co/5NfFIv4IWXpic.twitter.com/nnWVxw5XT1

— Tony Dearing (@TonyDearing) July 2, 2017

The collection of aerial photos — taken from the open door of a small plane by Star-Ledger photographer Andrew Mills — also sparked a debate online over which shot was the most damning. Was it the close-up shot that showed Christie lounging in a beach chair, face clearly turned upward to soak in the sun’s rays?

PHOTOS: Christie, family soak up sun on N.J. beach he closed to public https://t.co/ZrisIYZBbcpic.twitter.com/qS56N38By3

— NJ.com (@njdotcom) July 2, 2017

Or was it a zoomed-out photo showing Christie and his party enjoying a public beach all to themselves with the taxpayer-funded mansion in the background?

There are so many to choose from, but I personally think this is the most devastating of @AndyMills_NJ’s Christie photos. pic.twitter.com/AAEyJbgzEj

— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) July 3, 2017

The governor also drew ridicule for a tweet from his official account, posted about half an hour before the Star-Ledger published the aerial beach photos. In the tweet, Christie linked to a YouTube video that showed him placing blame for the shutdown on Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.

New Jersey’s government shut down Friday night after lawmakers failed to pass a budget before the July 1 deadline.

“I’m not the person who has drawn a line the sand here,” Christie tweeted.

I’m not the person who has drawn a line the sand here. https://t.co/dJmapywYjm

— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) July 2, 2017

Multiple people called him out for his poor choice of words.

“Uh, not the thing to be saying given that you, in fact, at this point are the only one able to draw lines in the sand in NJ,” one Twitter user replied.

Another added: “But you must be; you’re the only one who can get to the beach.”

Uproar over the photos — dubbed “Beachgate” online — continued into Monday, as many of the state’s “nonessential services” remained shuttered. Among those affected so far were a Cub Scout group forced to leave a state park campsite and drivers unable to obtain documents from the state motor vehicle commission, the Associated Press reported.

It’s unclear if Christie himself will suffer any career-damaging fallout from the incident. After all, he has weathered major political setbacks before, from the “Bridgegate” scandal to a failed Republican presidential primary campaign in which he was repeatedly humiliated by then-candidate Donald Trump.

Christie remained unfazed by the photos — and the backlash — Monday, according to his spokesman.

“The Governor announced Monday on Ask the Governor and at subsequent news conferences that he would be joining his family at the beach this weekend,” Murray told The Washington Post. “We are gratified The Star-Ledger has confirmed what he said on three occasions.”

Front page of today’s @starledger. It’s gonna be this kind of day in Trenton. #njshutdownpic.twitter.com/vVANVqceOs

— Matt Arco (@MatthewArco) July 3, 2017

Read more:

Christie, lawmakers at impasse as state parks remain closed

The tragic arc of Chris Christie

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