Mounting Pay-to-play Concerns Regarding AshBritt Inc. Contract
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 10:04 AM EST
Yesterday, former Mississippi Governor and current lobbyist Haley Barbour confirmed to the Star Ledger that he made calls to Governor Christie on behalf of AshBritt Inc. to secure the Hurricane Sandy debris removal contract.
Gubernatorial candidate and State Senator Barbara Buono released the following statement:
"This weekend, a peculiar ally came to Governor Christie's defense regarding his handling of the bid process for Hurricane Sandy debris removal contracts: AshBritt Inc. lobbyist Haley Barbour. Mr. Barbour admitted to proposing a no-bid solution to Governor Christie and suggested that his client receive the contract. The details of the lobbying process come only days before Mr. Barbour's partner is to hold a fundraiser in Virginia for Governor Christie.
"Following allegations of pay-to-play political donations, the continued lack of appropriate oversight, and the Governor's unwillingness to operate transparently, New Jerseyans are entitled to a full accounting of how AshBritt Inc.'s political connections played a role in receiving the contract. As the facts stand now, there is simply no way for New Jersey's taxpayers to know whether money designated to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy is going to the families who need it or to the profits for multi-million dollar, politically connected corporations."
Below is a timeline of events preceding Mr. Barbour's admission of directly influencing Governor Christie's decision to select AshBritt Inc. at the request of the firm.
• Fall 2005 - Then Mississippi Governor, Haley Barbour hires AshBritt Inc. to remove debris caused by Hurricane Katrina.
• October 2012 - AshBritt Inc. calls its lobbyist, Haley Barbour, asking him to talk with Governor Christie about using the firm to clean up debris left by Hurricane Sandy.
• October 2012 - During Hurricane Sandy, Chris Christie awards a no-bid contract to AshBritt Inc.
• November 2012 - Days after being awarded a state contract, AshBritt Inc. donates $50,000 to the Republican Governors Association, a group Mr. Barbour once chaired and is now dedicated to reelecting Governor Christie.
• February 2012 - Ed Rogers, a founding partner in Mr. Barbour's lobbying firm, holds a Virginia fundraiser for Governor Christie.