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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

PA House Republicans Address Favoritism In No Bid Contracts

PA House GOP: End Pay-to-Play

HARRISBURG - With the goal of reforming state contracting procedures for the three branches of government, Reps. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver), Craig Dally (R-Lehigh), Robert Godshall (R-Montgomery), Glen Grell (R-Cumberland), Douglas Reichley (R- Berks/Lehigh) and Republican Whip Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) introduced a package of bills today that aim to effectively end pay-to-play politics in Pennsylvania.

The recent allegations of corruption against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the situation with David Rubin and CDR Financial Products, and the reasons Arizona Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew his federal cabinet nomination are nationwide indicators of what is going on, and why Pennsylvania needs stronger laws prohibiting pay-to-play, the legislators said.

"The recent allegations of corruption against Blagojevich, the swirling situation surrounding the award of millions of dollars in no-bid legal services contracts by Governor Ed Rendell to his old law firm, and now the information that Deloitte Touche has turned the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) into its own satellite office compel all Pennsylvanians to be concerned about the manner in which the public dollars are being spent," said Reichley. "The disclosures over the last year of possible favoritism in awarding contracts leads us to worry that Pennsylvania is not immune to the perception that it's not what you can do but who you know that gets you preferential treatment in government contracts. Pennsylvania needs laws in place to ensure that nothing like this can ever occur in our state."

During his six years in office, Rendell has taken advantage of a weak state law to give preferential consideration to former associates in his former law firm and campaign contributors who have received lucrative contracts for state services without any competitive bidding.

"As President Obama said last week, we need to ensure the public that in this difficult economic time, there cannot be double standards for government officials. We need to reassure our citizens that in an era when the Wall Street bailout has revealed dubious use of public funds, that when a company donates to a successful political campaign, it is not a back-door way for the company to receive lucrative no-bid state contracts," said Reichley. "We can have no tolerance for a perception that government is for sale.

"The revelations today about the method in which Deloitte Touche has insinuated its way into the contracting procedures at DPW leads us to the conclusion we need to end the revolving door atmosphere where lobbyists are hired by state agencies, work in state government for a period to assist their former employer, and then return to the private sector to work on contracts they had a hand in writing while working on the public dollar," said Reichley.

"We need an open bidding process across the board in state government," Turzai said. "This is necessary to restore trust. The taxpayers demand and deserve this type of openness and accountability."

Proposed reforms include: Read more on 1490 NewsBlog, Northern PA's Political Authority

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