Matt Katz, New Jersey Public Radio
Matt Katz has covered New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for more than three years, first for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he created The Christie Chronicles blog, and now for WNYC and New Jersey Public Radio, ...
The national Republican group that Gov. Christie chairs -- and that helped to elect him governor twice -- collected donations last year from at least 10 companies hired by New Jersey for Sandy relief, WNYC has learned.
A review of IRS documents released late Friday indicate that the companies, which account for about 10 percent of the private entities hired with federal Sandy funds, donated more than $300,000.
New Jersey’s pay to-play laws restrict the amount of money that contractors that do business with the state can contribute to political candidates. But interest groups like the RGA can take unlimited donations from companies and in turn make unlimited donations to candidates.
In 2009, Christie’s campaign collected $7.5 million in RGA funds. Last year, the RGA gave Christie $1.7 million in his successful reelection bid.
The donations also indicate that several Sandy companies purchased tickets to attend an RGA conference in Arizona in November, when Christie became chairman of the group and met personally with donors over three days.
The WNYC analysis does not include an exhaustive look at subcontractors hired in the Sandy recovery. For example, New Jersey-based The Conti Group, a subcontractor on the clean-up effort, made an $80,000 donation last year.
Christie's office referred questions to the Republican Governors Association, which noted that these donations make up a very small percentage of their fundraising. The RGA raised more than $50 million last year.
"The RGA raises funds to elect and support Republican governors and we do that in full compliance of all laws," said RGA spokesman Jon Thompson.
These are the Sandy contractors' donations to the RGA in 2013: