Christie Defends Lowering NJ Flags for Whitney Houston

The New Jersey governor said critics are wrongly accusing of treating Houston better than fallen soldiers

By Brian Thompson
|  Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012  |  Updated 9:09 PM EDT
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There is controversy over NJ governor Chris Christie's decision to have flags flown at half-staff Saturday for the death of Whitney Houston.

NBC New York

There is controversy over NJ governor Chris Christie's decision to have flags flown at half-staff Saturday for the death of Whitney Houston.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is strongly defending his decision to have flags lowered to half-staff Saturday for the late singer Whitney Houston amid criticism partly related to her history of substance abuse.

Christie says he rejects the idea the New Jersey native "forfeited the good things that she did in her life" because of her substance abuse struggles.

The Republican governor said Wednesday disparaging emails and other messages have been coming into his office.

He says critics are wrongly accusing him of treating Houston better than fallen soldiers. He has ordered flags flown at half-staff for all 31 fallen New Jersey soldiers and every fallen police officer during his time in office.

Veterans advocate Gary Englert of West Orange, N.J., told NBC New York there is a US code that allows governors to fly the flag at half-staff only in the event of the death of a present or former official.

But Army veteran Melvin Sampson said there should be an exception.

"You've got to look at what she meant to the community, what she meant to East Orange, to New Jersey," Sampson told NBC New York. "Me, I don't have a problem with it."

The cause of Houston's death at a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel over the weekend hasn't been determined.

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