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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
January 13, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Law
- Nancy Kaplen, Acting Director


Peter Aseltine


Attorney General Asks U.S. Court to Declare that NJ Executive Order to Eliminate Political Influence in Contracting Does Not Conflict with Federal Rules

Federal Highway Administration is Holding Up All Funds for State Highway Projects

TRENTON – Attorney General Peter C. Harvey today filed suit in U.S. District Court in Trenton, asking the Court to declare that New Jersey’s new rules aimed at eliminating political influence in contracting are not in conflict with federal transportation regulations.

The declaratory judgment action was filed on behalf of the New Jersey Department of Transportation in response to a letter that Commissioner John F. Lettiere Jr. received last week from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) advising that no federal highway funds would be approved for New Jersey projects because of a perceived conflict between federal contracting rules and Executive Order 134, issued last year by Governor James E. McGreevey to guard against political influence in contracting.

“Federal transportation officials have not articulated any official reason why Executive Order 134, which seeks to remove political influence from contracting, conflicts with federal law or would result in any decrease in competition for state contracts in New Jersey,” said Attorney General Harvey. “We are seeking to uphold the important principles behind the Executive Order, which ultimately has the same goal as the federal rules – fair competition and objectivity in the awarding of contracts. We want to resolve these issues as quickly as possible so that New Jersey can receive tens of millions in highway funding and implement important highway projects that are being held up by the Federal Highway Administration.”

Based on the position set forth in its January 6 letter, FHWA is withholding federal funds needed for a total of $250 million in state transportation projects for which NJ DOT has sought federal authorization.

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