"What we had was politically-connected people contacting Governor Christie, and getting very large contracts, worth tens of millions of dollars, through a non-competitive contract, a contract used by over 40 municipalities. They were able to take advantage of the state-recommended contract and paid a lot more for debris removal than towns that contracted on their own. We've learned this was not the best approach," Gordon said.
Drewniak pointed out that towns were not obligated to use AshBritt. They could have hired their own cleanup crews, he said.
But Gordon, who was among the Democrats who requested the records and asked the AshBritt CEO to testify to the state legislature recently, said that towns felt confident adopting a state-approved contract.
"What we're finding is the rates charged were twice as much as other organizations," Gordon said. "By not having a contract in place before the storm, the state had to scramble, and probably did not get the best kind of deal it could." Gordon said that the senate Democrats will not pursue any further actions on the AshBritt contract, but hope that in the future state contracts will be put up for bid to secure competitive pricing for taxpayers.