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(Trenton)- Before Superstorm Sandy even made landfall in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie was fast-tracking a deal for AshBritt, which bills itself as a debris-removal company but actually subcontracts that work to other companies. Christie awarded AshBritt a contract, without a competitive bidding process, that exempted the company from some environmental regulations and allowed the company to bring in subcontractors without state licenses. In January, Christie’s administration awarded AshBritt a second contract guaranteeing their work on future emergencies in New Jersey. Today, the Star-Ledger reported that the chairman of AshBritt’s lobbying firm will host a fundraiser for Governor Christie’s re-election campaign.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, released the following statement:
“Since Superstorm Sandy hit, Governor Chris Christie’s sweetheart deals gave AshBritt more than $100 million in state and municipal contracts and guaranteed the company millions more with a second contract for work on future natural disasters. Now AshBritt’s top lobbyist is hosting a fundraiser for Governor Christie’s campaign, raising even more questions about the process and rationale that resulted in AshBritt’s contracts with New Jersey.
Why was AshBritt selected through a non-competitive bidding process?
With rates significantly higher than many of its competitors, was AshBritt the best company for the job… or just the best ally for Christie political career?
Did Christie choose a company that may fleece New Jersey taxpayers for millions just so he could secure his own political future?
Was either contract contingent on political support for the governor?
If Governor Christie was still U.S. Attorney Christie, he’d be breaking out the podium to announce a pay-to-play investigation right about now.”
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"Christie’s method for coping with scandal has been more complicated. In January, the seemingly-local issue of lane closings on the George Washington Bridge, which created a massive traffic jam in the Hudson River town of Fort Lee, became one of national interest when it was revealed that one of Christie’s closest staffers had ordered them—for what looked like political retribution against a Democratic mayor. The scandal was quickly dubbed 'Bridgegate,' and unfortunately for Christie, it played into his reputation as a bully. Christie's response was to act unlike himself: humble." - Olivia Nuzzi- The Daily Beast
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