New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is facing a barrage of criticism for opting to campaign for Donald Trump instead of attending the funeral of Irish NJ State Trooper Sean Cullen, who died last week in a tragic collision while on duty at the scene of an earlier car accident.
Hundreds of people gathered Monday to pay their respects at Cullen’s funeral in Cinnaminson, the town his family emigrated to from Dublin when he was a child. The 31-year-old officer was mourned by his fiancée and their nine-month-old baby, his parents, a sister and two brothers, who of whom, Garrett, is a New Jersey State Police Detective.
Though Christie had ordered flags at half-mast in New Jersey, the governor himself was far from his state for the funeral, stumping for Trump in Florida and North Carolina.
“We are focused on honoring our fallen brother today, and quite frankly we did not expect someone who has consistently shown disdain for law enforcement to pay his respects to the Cullen and state police family,” Christopher Burgos, president of the State Troopers Union, told the New York Daily News.
New Jersey's Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno attended the service in Christie's place.
A few hours before the funeral, Christie’s Twitter account did send out a message noting that flags would be at half-mast in mourning.
All State buildings are flying flags at half-staff today in honor of the passing of New Jersey State Trooper Sean Cullen.— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) March 14, 2016
“He orders flags flown at half-mast, but couldn’t stay for the funeral?” New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg questioned.
“It’s a choice that symbolizes how he feels about the State of New Jersey. It isn’t even his campaign. Every time I think there’s a low point in this administration, somehow a lower point comes. And this is one of the lowest.”
A panoramic view of troopers from all over the country at Trooper Sean Cullen's funeral - photo Tom Gardiner CBS 3 pic.twitter.com/7yh0FzZzqa— Cleve Bryan CBS3 (@CleveBryan) March 14, 2016
She also pointed out that the State Troopers assigned to guard Christie on his trip were consequently forced to miss the funeral of their fallen colleague.
“Their responsibility was to take care of him so he could sit on a stage with Donald Trump,” Weinberg told the Daily News.
The paper also reported that this marks the third police funeral Christie has missed this year.