NJ lawmaker wants to let public rent out governor’s beach house
TRENTON — A state lawmaker wants to pass a law that would close the gubernatorial beach house at the Jersey Shore during a budget shutdown.
The proposed legislation comes days after Gov. Chris Christie made national news when a photographer on a charted plane caught him sitting on the beach on Sunday with his family and guests — the only ones allowed on the 10-mile barrier island during the three-day government shutdown.
“Gov. Christie said he went to the beach during the shutdown to honor his obligation to his family,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex. “Well, there were several other fathers in New Jersey who wanted to take their families out to that very same beach over the weekend but were turned away.”
“If a beach is closed because of a state shutdown, it ought to be closed to everybody,” said Wisniewski. “Having it open to the governor and his guests while it’s closed to all the other New Jersey residents who are paying for them to be there isn’t right and it isn’t fair.”
Wisniewski, who was unsuccessful in winning the Democratic nomination for governor this year, also wants to make it so that the house can be rented out to the public.
“The governor’s beach house is a private luxury paid for with public money. That ought to change,” he said Friday in a statement. “New Jersey taxpayers who want to access a resource that their hard-earned money has funded should be afforded that opportunity.”
On the first morning of the shutdown, New Jersey 101.5 reported that Christie intended to follow through on his Island Beach State Park vacation with his family. Later in the day, he suggested that people who were upset at his decision to run for governor if they wanted to have a residence in the state park.
On Sunday, Christie further defended his use of the beach house during the shutdown.
“That’s where my family is sleeping so that’s where I’ll sleep tonight. When I have a choice between sleeping with my family and sleeping alone I generally like to sleep where my family is.”
His No. 2 — Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who is the Republican nominee for governor in November's election — was appalled.
“The governor has two residences — one at the beach at Island Beach State Park and one at Drumthwacket, which is also in Princeton and is a park where people come and tour and visit as well,” he said on Fox 5’s Good Day New York. “The governor is allowed to go to his residences. I’m at my residence.”
The six-bedroom house has views of the Atlantic Ocean. A guesthouse faces the bay. The houses were built in 1927 and purchased by the state in 1953.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.