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Former Burlington County Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs.

Gibbs renews attacks over Hill International

By Nikita Biryukov, May 05 2020 8:03 pm

This story was updated with comment from Richter at 8:09 p.m. 

Kate Gibbs again attacked David Richter over his time with Hill International, this time targeting two 2004 school construction contracts the firm received in 2004.

The former Burlington County freeholder director’s campaign hit Richter over tens of millions of dollars of construction contracts the firm secured in Millstone and Middletown that year.

Gibbs’ campaign claimed Hill international increased costs for a school construction project in Millstone by $4 million, a move they say forced the school to cut classroom space.

“David Richter’s disastrous career in business will be the gift that keeps giving for Nancy Pelosi’s opposition research team and will cost Republicans this seat if Richter is our nominee in the fall,” Gibbs campaign manager Angelo Lamberto. “Richter trying to make his business career the selling point for his campaign is what you call leading with your chin.”

But it doesn’t appear that Millstone officials were dissatisfied.

Mary Anne Donahue, then the district’s superintendent, spoke favorably of Hill in 2006, and the town awarded additional contracts to the firm despite their costs exceeding those of some competitors.

The former freeholder’s campaign also charged that cost increases related to a school construction project managed by Hill forced local officials to push a $9.4 million bond referendum.

Richter could not comment on the specifics of either project, though he said was not directly involved, adding that any cost increases would go to contractors and not a management firm like Hill.

“I don’t know the specifics on these two projects from 16 years ago, as I wasn’t personally involved in either one, but it’s not unusual for construction costs to go up during a building project. But any cost increases don’t go to a project manager like Hill, it goes to the general contractor who actually builds the project,” the candidate said. “Project managers are simply acting as advisors to the owner and get paid hourly rates, so they don’t make any more money if a project goes over budget. Kate’s accusation shows either stunning ignorance of the construction process or an intentional misrepresentation to the voters.”

The two candidates are running for the Republican nod to take on Rep. Andy Kim (D-Marlton) in November.

Over the past several weeks, the already-strained tenor of the campaign has turned vicious.

“If Richter is our nominee, prepare to be bombarded with millions of dollars in mailers and television commercials pointing out how Richter’s business fleeced taxpayers, while he fattened his own wallet in the process,” Lamberto said.“The facts are clear: Hill International routinely inflated costs and ran way over budget, forcing local taxpayers to pick up the tab. Their property taxes went up, while Richter laughed all the way the bank.”

The attacks launched by either side as campaigns that have all but shut down because of the ongoing pandemic have turned increasingly personal and increasingly numerous.

“In either case, Kate appears to be getting more and more desperate in her attacks as her flailing campaign heads toward defeat on July 7th.  The reality is that Andy Kim and Nancy Pelosi are salivating over the possibility of running against Kate and her criminal record. Her history of shoplifting, drug possession and drunken behavior are all things that the voters will take very seriously,” Ricther said. “How could they possibly trust someone with that kind of record to represent them in Congress?”

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