Christie vetoes DRPA payment to lobbyist

Gov. Christie has directed four of his 19 vetos at DRPA so far.
Gov. Christie has directed four of his 19 vetos at DRPA so far.
Posted: February 05, 2011

Gov. Christie announced Friday that he had halted a Delaware River Port Authority move to pay $37,500 to a Washington firm for 2010 lobbying work.

Christie vetoed a resolution from the agency's Jan. 19 meeting that would have paid American Continental Group Inc. for monitoring congressional activity on transportation funding.

DRPA's contract with the firm expired in 2009, but the agency sought to pay it for work performed between January and June 2010.

Christie called it a no-bid contract in violation of DRPA policies that the agency recently adopted at the governor's behest.

DRPA, which operates the PATCO rail line and bridges between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, has been the subject of the governor's ire for months because of its spending practices and employee perks.

In Christie's second month in office last year, he issued an executive order prohibiting state authorities from contracting with lobbyists. Because DRPA is also a Pennsylvania agency, it can ask for a waiver, according to Christie's veto letter Thursday, but it did not.

DRPA Vice Chairman Jeffrey Nash said American Continental helped secure about $100 million in federal funding for the authority, including about $65 million for PATCO. He said the money was an extension of the original, expired contract that was in force before the reforms were established.

In August 2009, DRPA created rules requiring competing proposals to be sought before professional-services contracts can be awarded. A year later, rules were established to require "a fair and transparent process" for awarding contracts.

"I don't think the governor had a problem necessarily with the lobbyists, because they helped us generate" federal aid, Nash said. "I think he had a problem with the procedure."

Because the money is still owed, DRPA will consult with the governor's Authorities Unit to see how to proceed, Nash said.

This was the governor's 19th veto targeting state authorities and commissions since taking office 13 months ago; four have been directed at DRPA.

Former Gov. Jon S. Corzine never vetoed DRPA's meeting minutes, Nash said.

On Tuesday, Christie vetoed the minutes of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority after it raised salaries and allowed employees to select gifts from a catalog as part of an "Employee Service Awards Program."


Contact staff writer Matt Katz

at 609-217-8355 or mkatz@phillynews.com.

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