Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rokita Contracts = Rokita Donors?

This is a cross-post from A Loyal Opposition, which is run by my keen-minded colleague, Spencer Valentine. If you haven't added it to the "must read" list, you should.

Rokita Pay-to-Play Scam Even Bigger and More Wasteful Than

Back in October A Loyal Opposition posted a Fort Wayne Journal Gazette report on Secretary of State Todd Rokita’s use of public funds and contracts to bolster the donations to his campaign, presumably for Governor in 2012.

Now, ALO has found some even larger donations from contributors who hold even larger contracts.

It seems that Rokita has exponentially expanded the statewide voter file project into a nearly $26 million project to two firms Quest Information Systems who handled campaign finance and voter registration data for years for the state and added an oversight firm called Baker Tilly (formerly Virchow Krause) to this ever growing contract.

Baker Tilly is especially interesting here as they seem to be the Dick Cheney of the cabal. Originally, they were brought on to the contract in 2003 just to help review the request for proposals. In Cheneyesque style, they wrote themselves in to a permanent role as a partner with Quest in the project.

Thusly, Baker Tilly ballooned their one year/$900,000 contract to eight years and more than $8 million.

Quest Information Systems has grown their part of the project from $9.7 million to $17 million 5 years and 26 amendments later.

It is questionable enough when this project, like Governor Daniels FSSA privatization efforts, just seems to keep getting more expensive with no end in sight. But the fund-raising trail is the really bothersome part.

Between the two vendors the rascally Mr. Rokita has bettered his campaign committee by more than $23,000. Quest Information Systems, has contributed nearly $17,000 to Rokita’s election committee, with another $500 donated by Quest founder, President and CEO Steve McNear who has lots of other state contracts and has contributed more than $10,000 to Governor Daniels.

Mr. John Runte, listed as a Partner and Principal on Baker Tilly’s website has generously rewarded Rokita the Rapscallion’s bloating of their contract with $6,000 in campaign contributions.

The “no-bid” nature of this Baker Tilly contract is also to be questioned. The original contract was to review the RFP. But they were added to the project without becoming a separate bidder and have had this contract renewed 17 times without the state taking it out for further competitive bidding.

The original contract awarded to both firms in 2004 was for a total of $9.7 million. Some 43 amendments later, it totals $26 million dollars.
Rokita continues to use this “Pay-to-Play” scheme to his advantage. But one must ask why he wouldn’t. It has certainly proven itself advantageous to Governor Daniels. He’s just following in those footsteps.

Whatever you think of the campaign loot, one must wonder about Secretary’s fiscal management skills when this project just continues to cost more and add amendments.



shawnharmon said...

Excellent post!

Compare the prices to what other states paid.

Paul K. Ogden said...

People in the executive department of government getting huge contributions from contractors doing business with the executive, is a huge problem everywhere. No place is it worse than in Indianapolis city government. Go to Mayor Ballard's website and look who has given him the big bucks. Keystone Construction for example gave him $25,000 in one donation in 2008.