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NJ governor defends $100M Sandy cleanup contract

UNION BEACH, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is defending a $100 million contract his administration gave a Florida company to haul away debris from Superstorm Sandy.

Christie says the contract with AshBritt was not awarded without competitive bidding, as critics have charged.

The governor says New Jersey has a cooperative agreement with the state of Connecticut that allows it to piggyback off an earlier contract with that state.

Christie says Connecticut contracted with AshBritt in 2010 in a $100 million deal that was competitively bid.

He says New Jersey needed to hire a contractor quickly after Sandy to begin picking up mounds of debris left by the storm. And AshBritt was selected in part because the firm had experience dealing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and was able to get full reimbursement.

Gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono, the former chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, called on the governor Tuesday to release all communication and records surrounding the AshBritt contract.

Buono is likely to win the Democratic nomination and run against Christie in November.