(CNN) – Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, took a not-so-subtle jab Wednesday at Gov. Chris Christie for starring in ads aimed at promoting tourism in New Jersey in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
In a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing to review the federal response to last year's deadly storm, Paul questioned Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan about whether Sandy relief funds should be spent on television ads.
Paul said that “people running for office put their mug all over these ads while they are in the middle of a campaign. In New Jersey, $25 million was spent on ads that included somebody running for political office."
"Ya think there might be a conflict of interest there? You know that’s a real problem. That’s why when people who are trying to do good and trying to use taxpayer dollars wisely they are offended to see our money spent on political ads. You know that’s just offensive."
Christie was first criticized by Democrats for appearing in an ad released over the summer titled "Stronger Than the Storm" for using taxpayer dollars. The commercial was a part of a $25 million tourism campaign to boost the Jersey Shore's economy, which used federal emergency funds given to states affected by the storm.
"New York did the same thing, which I still object, but at least they didn’t put someone’s face on the ad and their family, and it looks like a bio ad," Paul continued. "You know I think, yeah, come to New Jersey, but it’s like I don’t want to pay for ads for someone’s advertising out of Sandy relief funds. It gives the whole thing a black eye."
Paul's criticism follows the Kentucky senator's comments on Tuesday labeling Christie a moderate after the New Jersey governor called himself a conservative in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. Rising stars in the GOP, Paul and Christie are considered potential 2016 presidential candidates.
"I think the Republican Party is a big party, and we need moderates like Chris Christie who can win in New Jersey," Paul said on CNN's “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blizter. Paul added that the Republican Party was generally "more conservative" than Christie.
CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.