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Protest over $125 million Lottery contract ‘dismissed’

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A bid protest filed over a Florida Lottery advertising contract worth $125 million has been “dismissed,” a spokeswoman said Monday.

Lottery communications director Connie Barnes, in response to an inquiry from FloridaPolitics.com, said the “dispute has been dismissed.”

She did not offer further details, including when and why. Barnes did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

“The Lottery is looking forward to finalizing the contract and moving forward with PP+K,” she said, referring to the winning bidder, a Tampa-based advertising agency.

St. John & Partners, a Jacksonville-based advertising and PR firm, filed the protest over the 5-year services contract in June.

St. John’s attorney, Robert Hosay of the Foley & Lardner law firm in Tallahassee, was not available Monday, an assistant said. He’s an expert in bid protests and former interim secretary of the Florida Department of Management Services under Gov. Jeb Bush.

The two firms, however, issued a joint press release Monday afternoon.

“Recently, representatives from PP+K and St. John & Partners reached an amicable agreement to end the administrative protest over the Florida Lottery’s decision to enter an advertising and marketing services contract with PP+K,” it said.

“In order to avoid the potential expense and uncertainty of resolving the protest through legal or administrative proceedings, the parties came to an agreement to compromise and settle all claims that were raised,” the statement added. “The administrative protest has been voluntarily dismissed.

“In keeping with the spirit of the amicable resolution, there will be no further comment from either party at this time.”

Among the allegations in the St. John protest was that PP&K consultant David Bishop, a former deputy secretary of the Lottery, failed to observe the state’s 2-year ban on former agency officials lobbying their ex-employers.

It also complained that Florida Lottery officials broke the state’s Sunshine Law by not holding a public meeting to discuss “the relative merits of the vendors and arrive at a best value determination and award recommendation,” according to the protest.

The idea behind the contract, first put out last June, was to “provide lottery players with the knowledge to purchase its products in a responsible manner, enhance sales (and) attract new and lapsed players,” according to the protest.

Lottery proceeds benefit the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF), which helps pay for public education.

January report by the Legislature’s watchdog arm said Lottery transfers to the EETF “increased slightly in fiscal year 2014-15 to $1.496 billion, or $1 million more than the prior year,” according to a summary.

The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, or OPPAGA, recommended that the Lottery should “continue to regularly assess the effectiveness of its advertising,” among other things.

A previous story on the bid protest is here.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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