Stender: Questions about Potential Misuse of Initial Sandy Relief Funds Must be Answered

(TRENTON) – Assembly State Government Committee Chair Linda Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union) on Wednesday criticized the administration’s latest plans to distribute Sandy relief funds with so many questions still swirling about how the first round of money was used, and said she plans to submit OPRA requests to state departments that have spent Sandy funds to determine how this money was used and ensure no funds were misused or will be misused in the future:
“It is unbelievable that this administration is preparing to spend another $1.46 billion in Sandy recovery aid, including $5 million for more TV ads, when there are so many unanswered questions about how the first round of recovery funds were spent, and whether the spending was appropriate.
“How many more questionable projects are we going to find? The Belleville and New Brunswick projects may have been legitimate projects, but should not have received money specifically allocated to help towns and residents hit hardest by Sandy. Then there is the money that was spent on marketing efforts that seemed to serve the governor’s reelection efforts more than the shore towns affected.
“I don’t believe we should be spending any more money until we know how the first round of money was spent and what criteria were used so we can prevent potential misuse going forward.
“As chair of the Assembly State Government Committee, I plan to OPRA all contract information from all state departments that have spent federal Sandy money, and what criteria they used for distribution. There are just too many red flags about how this administration has handled the distribution of Sandy relief aid for us to not dig deeper. The residents who have been victimized all over again by what appears to have been an ineffective recovery.”