Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) office hid crucial details in newly released documents that could shed light on how a firm won a prized contract for an advertising campaign promoting New Jersey tourism in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
The Asbury Park Press obtained the score sheets from the six members of a panel assigned to choose a firm for the ad campaign, but Christie’s office blacked out the names on the sheets. The redactions make it impossible to know whose votes helped East Rutherford, N.J.-based public relations firm MWW land the contract despite the fact that it wasn’t the lowest bidder. State officials did not provide a reason for the redactions.
MWW charged the state $2.2 million more than one of its competitors for the bid, leading some to believe that it landed the contract because it proposed giving Christie a starring role in the “Stronger than the Storm” television spots (in an election year, no less). MWW released a statement Monday denying that its proposal mentioned including Christie in the advertisements, contradicting what an executive for the firm said last year.
The person who helmed the panel that awarded the contract to MWW was Michele Brown, who was in the middle of a controversy that surfaced during Christie’s 2009 gubernatorial campaign and ultimately led to her resignation as a federal prosecutor. The New York Times reported at the time that Brown was the recipient of a $46,000 loan from Christie that he neglected to report.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said Monday that the federal officials are leading an investigation into Christie’s use of Sandy relief funds.