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Critics have seized on the MWW contract, saying the company’s decision to feature Mr. Christie in television ads during an election campaign gave it a big edge in the contract competition.

MWW officials said they never included that idea in their proposal.

“I commend the HUD Office of the Inspector General for investigating whether the state properly utilized taxpayer funds for this marketing campaign,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., the New Jersey Democrat who requested the investigation, said in a statement this week.

State officials did not respond to questions about job titles and rates included in the MWW proposal, but they have defended the award in media reports on the HUD inquiry. The federally funded ad campaign sought to repair the state’s image and encourage tourists to visit New Jersey in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and proved controversial in part because Mr. Christie and his family were featured prominently in the winning contractor’s television ads.

“It’s simply a false narrative,” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak told USA Today this week over questions about favoritism in the contract award.

“The contract was given on the merits in the same exhaustively objective process that is used for all state public contracts. The evaluation committee report bears that out,” said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak.

Defending the contract

MWW officials also defended the contract. In an email, Bill Murray, a spokesman, said the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which administered the contract, said the project called for work that turned out to be more expansive than what was outlined in the company’s GSA schedule list of job titles.

“Where they were comparable in level, there was a direct match in rates,” he said of the jobs listing. “Where there was a completely new function with no direct level match, a rate discounted along with the same percentages as all other rates was applied.”

Bidders were required to list positions and hourly rates at or better than what was in the companies’ price list to the GSA.

MWW’s GSA pricing list included fewer than a dozen job titles ranging from a $64.23 per-hour account coordinator to a senior vice president earning $299.73 per hour.

The company’s Sandy recovery marketing contract proposal to New Jersey officials included more than 40 job titles, records show.

“For this assignment, the work required through the [New Jersey Economic Development Authority] was more expansive than the original titles addressed, so functions were added to accommodate the work required,” Mr. Murray said in a statement.

“In addition to MWW staff functions not originally considered for GSA work, this included the addition of job titles and rates for the advertising functions of the subcontractor that was used. Again, rates were matched with comparable levels or discounted at the same percentage.”

In a separate statement, Mr. Murray said the company welcomes the inspector general’s review. He said the company’s proposal included no mention of having Mr. Christie featured in a paid ad campaign.

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