Audit Clears Christie on Sandy Contract But Raises Other Questions

March 7, 2014

A federal audit released Thursday concludes that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration did not violate any rules in awarding a no-bid contract to a politically connected company to haul away debris left by Hurricane Sandy.

But the audit by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general also said municipalities that contracted with the firm — AshBritt Inc. of Pompano Beach, Fla. — beyond a 60-day emergency period in the immediate aftermath of the storm might have violated federal guidelines.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to reimburse the state and towns for much of the money spent on debris removal.

"Therefore, FEMA should review each local municipality’s debris removal contracting process and make a determination on the eligibility of costs on a case-by-case basis," the report says.

That raises the specter of towns not receiving much-needed funds promised by the agency. Numerous towns relied on AshBritt past Jan. 3, 2013, when the 60-day emergency period ended. The agency said it would indeed look into its reimbursements in light of the audit.

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