Are We Beginning To See Wholesale Corruption Within JBE’s Flood Recovery Contracts?

It’s possible.

Here was a statement on Facebook by Baton Rouge’s congressman Garret Graves last week after news broke that IEM, the company winning the bid to be the main contractor administering federal funds for flood recovery in South Louisiana, would have its contract cancelled because of questions about proper licensing…

 It is very disappointing to hear about the State of Louisiana’s announcement that they are restarting flood relief contract solicitation.

This will further delay the allocation of badly-needed flood relief funds that we appropriated in September. It is impossible to explain to flood victims why $1.6 billion in recovery dollars are stuck in the bureaucracy while homes remain gutted, moldy and un-insulated.

This also further challenges our efforts in Congress to provide additional flood relief dollars when not a penny of September funding has been allocated to flood victims. On August 19th, I urged that a contractor be hired to administer this program.

Taking away $250 million or more from flood victims and giving it contractors to administer this program and to take seven months or more to get the money out the door further victimizes our flood survivors.

This has nothing to do with politics, it is just frustrating and sloppy. Finally, anyone that attempts to blame these delays on the federal systems lacks a fundamental understanding of the process and opportunities to expedite flood relief.

Graves’ statement didn’t allege any impropriety in the contracting process, and in that respect he might be on the tame side of what’s out there since IEM’s contract was scrapped by the Edwards administration.

IEM is in court attacking the process by which its contract was voided, and that is beginning to be a messy fight. Lots of rumors abound as to the motives for the governor’s actions.

Highlighting some of those is this Reddit thread which has popped in a major way since making its debut Wednesday night. A cleaned-up copy-and-paste from it..

I work at a Louisiana office that audits the state. We found clear, obvious evidence that the state is trying to give away 100M to his crony friends at Sullivan Group, but were suppressed from sharing the information. Here is a (not so) brief synopsis.

  • The floods in Louisiana caused the state to be given 1.2B for recovery (Source: http://wgno.com/2016/12/23/a-billion-dollars-for-flood-recovery-coming-to-louisiana/)
  • These funds are to be overseen by a contractor
  • A contractor with the best plan and the cheapest bid (250M versus 350M) won
  • The selection committee that scores the proposals was rigged in Sullivan Group’s (the 350M bid) favor, with political people being swapped in for half the technical people in the last week
  • The remaining technical people scored the cheap/good company so highly in technical that the cheap/good company still won
  • A protest was filed that the original winner needed a builders license. The builders on the team DO have the license, but the argument was that the tech company doing the project management should also have a builders license (??)
  • Even though the protest seems absurd, the liberals chose Larry Bankston to rule on it. Larry Bankston is deeply connected to Sullivan Group (his son Ben is the regional manager for their local company, DRC!!) (source again: https://www.businessreport.com/article/protests-flood-recovery-contract-mounting-louisiana-cancel-rfp-start)
  • Larry of course ruled that the tech company should also have a builders license so that the whole contract is cancelled
  • Now the liberals have put out a new request to score the team’s proposals and the fix is in. Sullivan Group will win and walk away with their 350M dollar bounty prize in federal funds for a 250M job

TL;DR : The state used Larry Bankston to rule something idiotic so they could give 100M more to their friends (and Larry Bankston’s son) at Sullivan Group, instead of giving that money to homeowners with flood damage.

We can’t vouch for all the particulars in this, yet. But we can say it is consistent with some of what we’ve heard since the IEM contract was scrapped.

More to come on this, as it’s bound to attract the interest of the various investigative bodies with jurisdiction over Louisiana’s political corruption.

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