4 Jul 2017

Chris Christie under fire for enjoying beach he closed to public

10:57 am on 4 July 2017

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is facing heavy criticism after he was photographed relaxing on a beach he had ordered closed to the public.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie in Washington, DC on 16 June 2107.

Chris Christie, a former presidential candidate, dropped out of the race for the White House and supported Donald Trump. Photo: AFP

The governor ordered non-essential services to be shut down, including state-managed beaches, because of a budget impasse in the New Jersey legislature.

The temporary shutdown affected 30,000 to 35,000 state workers and all 40 state parks, beaches, recreational areas and historic sites, just before the 4 July holiday weekend, according to CNN.

Two days later, a local news website published photos showing Mr Christie sunning himself with his family on an otherwise empty beach in Island Beach State Park.

Other visitors were turned away by police.

Mr Christie's Republican lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, questioned the governor's decision.

"If I were governor, I sure wouldn't be sitting on the beach if taxpayers didn't have access to state beaches," Ms Guadagno posted on Facebook.

"It's beyond words. We need to end the shutdown now. It's hurting small businesses and ordinary New Jerseyans."

After the photos were taken Mr Christie took the state helicopter to Trenton for a news conference, where he was asked about staying at the governor's summer house at the beach while the beaches were shut down. "I didn't get any sun today," Christie responded.

When shown the pictures, a spokesperson said: "He did not get any sun. He had a baseball hat on."

Mr Christie dismissed the controversy in a local television interview and seemingly in a later tweet reminding people that non-state beaches were open.