Speakers seek review of no-bid outsourcing deal by Haslam admin

Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 2:01pm
Updated: 5:45 p.m.
House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey address reporters.


The speakers of the state House and Senate said Thursday that they will seek a review of no-bid elements of an outsourcing deal with a real estate firm that has counted fellow Republican Gov. Bill Haslam as one of its investors.

The Haslam administration initially hired Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle for a $1 million contract to consult on office space issues. That deal was expanded and amended several times, and the company last month won a bid for a five-year, $38 million contract to manage all state-owned and leased properties outside of higher education.

The latest deal includes a maximum $330 million liability to the state for pass-through costs like power, ventilation, custodial work, security and other vendors.

Before his election in 2010, Haslam included Jones Lang LaSalle among the dozens of companies in which he held investments of more than $10,000. He has since placed his investments other than family-owned Pilot Flying J into a blind trust. Haslam's office has denied the stake in the company influenced the contract.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said he welcomed the move to outsource the management of state offices and rejected any claims of a potential conflict of interest for the governor.

"The governor disclosed all those investments that he had ... all that was placed into a blind trust, and I don't know whether you can do much more than that," he said. "Now as far as sole-source contracts, maybe there is something we can look into in that."

House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, also stressed that she did not think anything had been done wrong, but wanted to ensure that the state could not have reached a better deal.

"Just the whole idea of sole-bidding — I think that is a legitimate concern for us to examine," Harwell said.

Haslam spokesman David Smith said the governor welcomed the legislative leaders' input.

"We're already working with the two speakers' offices to sit down with them early next week and answer any questions they have," he said.

8 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 6/13/13 at 12:31

The GOP speakers will look into Haslam's administration on no-bids projects. Good God! Do you think the real truth will come out? It is time to really look into what has been going on in his administration. Have you noticed how quiet he has been, and where is he?

By: Badbob on 6/14/13 at 5:06

LOL. They start their investigation with the statement that they don't believe anything has been done wrong. Don't worry Tennessee. The FBI will conduct the real investigation and we can only hope that Ron Ramsey was given an ownership in the company for his support.

By: Luckyforward on 6/14/13 at 5:54

With this article the City Paper has finally added comics to its offerings. Harwell and Ramsey are going to investigate Haslam. Too funny!

Maybe Harwell and Ramsey can also see if they can help brother Jimmy, while they are at it.

By: Rukiddingme on 6/14/13 at 7:36

He FIRES Tennessee workers to give MILLIONS to an out of state company and can't figure out why Tennessee's economy isn't recovering!

By: govskeptic on 6/14/13 at 11:57

Sour grapes from the Mike McWhorter crowd it appears. The Speakers are being
required by their members and voters to answer some questions about these
bids or no bids if you will. They have no choice but to check things out.

By: pswindle on 6/14/13 at 2:02

What a duo of thieves in Billy and Jimmy! This is what happens when the GOP lets their kind slide. The GOP still cannot come out and say look into these two men. Most billionaires and some millionaires take from the poor and feel good about it.

By: Rocket99 on 6/17/13 at 7:28

Can we say foxes guarding the hen house?

Of course they are going to say the Gov did nothing wrong. We need a true, outside investigation into everything this Governor has done. He needs to be treated exactly the same way the Repubs have and are treating our current President as well as the way they treated Clinton. GUILTY until otherwise proven.

But then they will never do that. The Repubs think it's perfectly acceptable for their own kind to do these things.

By: asmithkv on 6/17/13 at 8:49

This is an interesting and so well maintained blog. Whole article is too good and well written.
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