Senate President Mike Haridopolos told a newspaper that his decision to restore a no-bid contract for a juvenile justice provider made sense, after criticism he protected the company because he is close to its lobbyist, reports the News Service of Florida.
Lawmakers earlier this year put a change into the budget to take away a no-bid deal for Evidence Based Associates and open to bid the work it does, which involves juvenile justice diversion programs. But at the request friend and financial backer Frank Tsamoutales, who lobbies for EBA, Haridopolos went over other lawmakers’ heads and removed the change, keeping the deal in place for the company. “We were looking to maximize programs that were successful. We wanted to make sure we get the most for every tax dollar. It’s surprising to a lot of people that others have objected,” Haridopolos told the FLORIDA TODAY newspaper on Thursday. Other lawmakers had earlier criticized the move, saying they wanted to open the work up to other bidders because EBA hadn’t met certain goals.