Haslam defends moving contract; Democrats want investigation

Gov. Bill Haslam says charges his administration rigged contracts to steer state business to an out-of-state moving company are off base, reports WZTV (video of newscast HERE)

Democratic Party leaders are calling for a full investigation into changes in contract language that resulted in a single company being hired to move several state government departments out of the Cordell Hull building downtown and into the Tennessee Tower. (Note: Previous post HERE)

Haslam says the administration’s procurement policy is focused on getting the best return for the taxpayer’s dollar. The moving contract is the subject of a lawsuit.

(Previous post HERE)

The gubernatorial quote, via Nashville Post Politics:

“We had a very complicated moving process going on. We literally were moving almost everybody in the state, the state worker, and to do that there were certain requirements for companies to be able to keep, to keep us in business,” Haslam told reporters Friday.

“It’s like changing the train while it’s still moving. We had to keep the state in business so we had to have moving firms that could do that on the size and the complexity we needed,” he said.

Note: State Democratic party’s news release is below.

News release from Tennessee Democratic party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron today called for a comptroller’s investigation into dealings between Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration and a controversial firm with financial ties to the governor.

According to News Channel 5, Jones Lang Lasalle — a private company Gov. Haslam once invested in and current beneficiary of a $330 million state contract — used its weight to steer a state contract to another well-connected, out-of-state business. A career state employee described the insider dealing in an email as having “already broken several laws.”

“First, Gov. Haslam’s administration fired Tennessee workers and gave their jobs and a $330 million contract to the governor’s old business partners,” Chairman Herron said. “Now a career state employee tells us those partners are rigging new state contracts for their friends. When a career public servant says, ‘We’ve already broken several laws,’ it is time for the Comptroller to investigate.”