Christie says the contract with AshBritt, Inc. was not awarded without competitive bidding, as critics have charged.
“We used Connecticut’s bid contract, which we’re permitted to do through government cooperative agreements. And as soon as the storm hit, we surveyed the states, looked for which states were most comparable to us and had already gone through the bidding of a contract and we used the Connecticut bid contract,” said Christie at an unrelated news conference in Union Beach on Tuesday.
Christie says Connecticut contracted with AshBritt in 2010 in a $100 million deal that was competitively bid.
The Star-Ledger has called AshBritt a “politically connected company” that has forged strong ties with several lawmakers.
Critics contend that AshBritt artificially inflates the price of its work and takes advantage of government officials in desperate circumstances, the Star-Ledger reported.
The newspaper also reported that AshBritt subcontracted with politically connected lobbyists to help it get additional debris-removal work from stricken municipalities.
But the governor slammed the charges, saying the contract was awarded fairly.
“This is all like a story in search of a scandal and they haven’t found one, not going to find one because all the stuff was bid and all the choices that are being made by municipalities are voluntary,” said Christie. “What’s the Star-Ledger going to tell me next, the world is round? What’s the next revelation they’re going to put on the front page. I mean, this is shoddy, crappy journalism that has no business being anywhere near the kind of attention that it’s gotten.”
Christie says New Jersey needed to hire a contractor quickly after Sandy to begin picking up mounds of debris left by the storm and AshBritt was selected in part because the firm had experience dealing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and was able to get full reimbursement.
Gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono, the former chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, called on the governor Tuesday to release all communication and records surrounding the AshBritt contract.
Buono is likely to win the Democratic nomination and run against Christie in November.
On Monday, State Senate president Stephen Sweeney called for a panel to investigate the no-bid AshBritt contract.
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