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New Jersey asks delivery service goPuff for more information on tax break application

New Jersey has asked the Philadelphia-based delivery company goPuff for more information regarding its successful application for a $39 million state tax incentive.

It comes one week after WBGO reported that goPuff had failed to mention a federal overtime and minimum wage violation when asked on its 2018 application.

Parent company goBrands was among three firms the state Economic Development Authority contacted this week to “to afford the companies the opportunity to respond to a range of questions, including discrepancies in their applications and related legal questionnaire.”

goPuff did not respond to a request for comment.

The information request comes amid a growing state investigation into the multi-billion-dollar taxpayer-funded incentive system that has revealed evidence of possible fraud and abuse.

The investigation is being conducted by a state task force convened by Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, to look into the state’s incentive programs, which he said were too generous and lacked the proper controls under former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican.

South Jersey politicians have bashed Murphy for targeting a program they say helped revitalize the distressed city of Camden. But good government advocates have praised the governor for clamping down on what some view as an out-of-control corporate welfare system.

“Government officials need to know who they’re dealing with,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of the nonprofit research group Good Jobs First. “Is this a company with a history of lying and misrepresenting and cheating and chiseling? Or is it a stand-up company that honors its obligations and treats its workplace and its community fairly?”

The state also contacted Sandoz Inc. and Express Scripts Pharmacy Inc. this week seeking more information.

The EDA previously sent letters seeking information to six other companies, five of whom had ties to South Jersey businessman and Democratic powerbroker George Norcross, who has clashed with Murphy over the investigation.

According to New Jersey officials, the state has the power to reduce, suspend, or terminate a tax incentive award.