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NJ governor praises Sandy relief fund run by wife

NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) – Gov. Chris Christie on Monday defended the delay in disbursing $32 million in donations to victims of Superstorm Sandy from a charity run by his wife.

The Asbury Park Press newspaper, of Neptune, reported Sunday that none of the relief money that came pouring in after the late October storm had reached victims; the first $1 million in grants was approved last week.

The Republican governor said the Sandy relief fund was never meant to provide immediate assistance to those recovering from New Jersey’s worst natural disaster, which killed 40 residents, left three-quarters of the state without power and caused $37 billion in damage in the state. The storm, which was spawned when Hurricane Sandy merged with two other weather systems, killed people in 10 states, but New Jersey and New York were hit the hardest.

The charity will provide rebuilding aid to Jersey residents whose homes and businesses were damaged by the storm and help cover gaps between repair bills and the amount covered by insurance, Christie said. Organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross provided short-term assistance to victims, while the Robin Hood Foundation has rapidly turned around most of the $67 million raised by the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief.

Christie, after touring a site that provides services for the developmentally disabled, praised his wife’s performance at the charity.

“I’m really proud of the job she’s done and the professionalism she’s brought to the job,” he said Monday. “The fact that they’re being careful with people’s money is something that’s laudable.”

Christie’s wife, Mary Pat Christie, a hedge fund manager who took two months off from her job to oversee the charity, told the newspaper she is being methodical to ensure the money is spent properly.

The fund’s honorary advisory board includes Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and former Sen. Bill Bradley.

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