The governor of New Jersey has been ridiculed for attempting to deny he took his family for a day on the beach, shortly after he ordered it closed to the public.
The Republican governor was photographed relaxing at Island Beach on Sunday, lounging in a beach chair in sandals and a T-shirt with his family on an otherwise empty beach.
The beach was closed to the public over the popular Fourth of July weekend, along with other state beaches and parks, due to a government shutdown.
“I didn’t get any sun today,” Christie told reporters at a news conference later in the day in Trenton, despite photographs showing he and his family enjoying a day out on the otherwise deserted beach.
When told of the aerial photos, his spokesman jokingly told NJ.com the Governor was telling the truth as he had been wearing a baseball hat during his 45-minute beach visit.
Mr Christie, who is serving out his final six months in office, later defended his day out by claiming he had previously announced his vacation plans and the media had simply “caught a politician keeping his word”.
Mr Christie said his family was spending the weekend at the governor’s beach residence and he was commuting to work by state helicopter.
“That’s the way it goes,” Christie said Saturday of his family’s use of the beach house.
“Run for governor, and you can have the residence.”
He added New Jersey “has beaches for 120 miles” so there were plenty of options for anyone craving a beach day as July 4 approaches.
While many were angered by the Governor’s apparent arrogance, many chose instead to mock Mr Christie for his stance.
“Tell Gov. Christie: Get the hell off Island Beach State Park,” read a banner carried by a plane flying up and down the New Jersey coast Monday, mocking the time the tough-talking governor told people to “get the hell off the beach” during a hurricane in 2011, the Associated Press reported.
Online pranksters have since inserted the image of him in sandals, shorts and a T-shirt into photos of various locations, and movie and TV scenes.
Gallery of edited photos placing Mr Christie at various locations:
Andrew Mills, the NJ Advance Media photographer who captured the photos, described how he took the images in a reflective article for NJ.com.
“When I arrived at Monmouth Executive Airport and spotted the governor’s helicopter, I realised he was in the area. The chopper was parked at the airport, instead of outside the mansion, where it would draw more attention. Maybe Christie was trying to lay low,” he wrote.
“We made one pass along the barren beach, spotted Christie and his family, and I snapped a few shots … We circled around for a second pass, and I aimed my camera again.”
Mr Mills said he was “almost certain” Mr Christie had seen the camera.
– with AAP