Christie accuses Murphy of playing ’political charade’ and dismisses federal probe into tax incentive program

Christie lashed out at his successor, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who he accused of engaging in “political vengeance.”

“It’s political theater by a guy who understands theater and who needs a show to distract from the fact that the major things he ran on he simply hasn’t accomplished even though he has a Legislature of his own party,” Christie said, referring to Murphy’s days as a theater student in college.

“A lot of smoke. No fire. Let’s see the fire,” Christie said.

But the former U.S. attorney stopped short of accusing federal authorities in Pennsylvania of playing politics.

“I think that prosecutors react, sometimes, having had a little of experience on this, to what they see in the media,” Christie said. “I’m not impugning them at all. It’s the circus that has been created at the Statehouse.”

Murphy fired back in an interview with NJ Advance Media on Friday.

“With all due respect to the guy who basically ruined the state, ravaged the middle class, the notion about no accomplishments," Murphy said, "we have the No. 1 public education system in America, we have the lowest unemployment rate in the history of the state, we are investing in public education and transportation, which Gov. Christie underfunded if not bankrupted.”

“I’d say we’re getting a lot done digging out of the Republican ditch that he left me,” he said.

A federal investigation would dramatically raise the stakes in the ongoing inquiry of how $11 billion in tax incentives and grants were handed out by the EDA. That money included millions that went to politically connected companies and insiders in Camden — earmarked in part by changes in state legislation that was drafted by special interests, according to a special governor’s task force that has been digging into the controversy for months.

The task force was appointed by Murphy in January after a critical report by the state comptroller found that the EDA may have “improperly awarded, miscalculated, overstated and overpaid” credits to a number of companies.

“To call this a charade is extraordinary when there is $11 billion that our comptroller — a Chris Christie appointee, by the way — who did an audit and could not find 20 percent of the jobs that were created,” Murphy said. “That appears to be a hijacking of taxpayers’ money and all I’m after is the truth.”

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