Many of New Jersey's public parks and beaches closed down completely this weekend, after Gov. Chris Christie ordered a government shutdown Friday night due to a budget impasse.
That means residents and vacationers haven't been able to enjoy the holiday weekend at any of New Jersey's 50 state-run outdoor rec areas and historic sites. Obviously people are not pleased.
But while police blockades turned thousands of beachgoers away from the shore Sunday, there was one person who got lie on the beach and catch some rays — the governor himself.
Because while Island Beach State Park was closed to the public, Christie still had access to the state residence located right on the shore. NJ.com captured photos of the governor lounging and playing games Sunday afternoon on a completely empty beach.
The embattled governor ordered emergency legislative sessions Saturday and Sunday to deal with the budget gridlock, and spent the weekend helicoptering back and forth to the beach, apparently unfazed by the mounting outrage over his exclusive beach access.
"That’s because the governor has a residence at Island Beach — others don’t,” he told reporters Saturday "That's the way it goes. Run for governor, and you can have the residence."
Asked whether it was "fair" for him to enjoy the beach he'd shut down for the rest of the state, Christie pointed out that his family would not be "asking for any services" usually provided at the state park.
Apparently unaware of the photos, Christie told reporters Sunday that he "didn't get any sun today."
When informed later that the governor had been captured plopped down on a beach chair, Christie's spokesperson, Brian Murray, admitted that "yes, the governor was on the beach briefly today talking to his wife and family before heading into the office."
"He did not get any sun," Murray added. "He had a baseball hat on."
Christie defended his beach trip again Monday, telling Fox News that he had every right to be there.
"The governor is allowed to go to his residences and I'm at my residences. I'll tell you this, I said last Monday, a week ago today, that no matter what happens, we were coming here as a family this weekend," he said.
The Republican governor also slammed NJ.com for taking and posting the photos, sarcastically calling it a "great piece of journalism."
"They actually caught a politician being where he said he was going to be with the people he said he was going to be with, his wife and children and their friends. I am sure they will get a Pulitzer for this one," Christie said. "They caught me doing what I said I was going to do with the people I said I was going to be with."
And, yes, people had a lot of feelings about all this, including the state's lieutenant governor, who called it "beyond words."
They pointed out that other New Jersey beaches were packed this weekend due to the shutdown.
While others had a more positive spin.
Brianna Sacks is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Brianna Sacks at email@example.com.
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