At the end of June, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shut down the state’s public beaches in response to his budget impasse. It was a monumentally controversial decision, as the Republican governor effectively furloughed more than 30,000 state employees on one of the busiest weekends of the year for beachfront businesses. Leaving office for the holiday weekend, Christie told the press that he’d reconvene with both houses of the state legislature to move forward after Independence Day. All Fourth of July events, including beach fireworks and trips to the Statue of Liberty, were cancelled.
On July 2, however, a Jersey local paper flew a plane over the state’s coastline for images of the empty beaches. Unbelievably, the plane caught the Christie family enjoying a completely empty Island Beach State Park, despite the governor having barred every single other Jersey resident from beating the heat. What’s more, Christie clearly sees the plane in the photos; he’s pictured helplessly sitting in a beach chair as his Sunday is captured on film.
NJ.com’s Andrew Mills writes, “I’ve been on enough stakeouts to know when I’ve been made, and Gov. Chris Christie looked right at me as I pointed the long-range lens at him from a small plane about a thousand feet above Island Beach State Park.” Though Christie clearly saw the photographer, he later told local media, “I didn’t get any sun.” He then became angry with reporters who followed up on the story, saying, “We’re talking about the closure of government and you’re talking about your TMZ stuff.”
CNN declared the photos as evidence that the governor has “given up” on his public image — his political opponents have accused him of holding the state of New Jersey hostage because the legislature he supports isn’t getting through. Folks online had a simpler critique of the governor — that he’s just a hypocrite. People came out in droves to laugh at Christie’s sheer carelessness.
There’s no word on whether #Beachgate will affect Christie’s attempts to get his state’s budget passed, but it certainly created a cathartic laugh for Jersey residents who were told to stay off their own coastline.