1. Big Government Contract to be awarded
2. Marc Marotta has meeting with contractors bidding on the contract
3. Big checks given to Doyle's campaign
4. Company awarded big government contract
5. Doyle's people deny anything improper is going on
Does anyone else see a pattern here in this story?
A Republican legislative leader Thursday accused Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's former top aide of violating the law when he met with the head of a company that was bidding on a $68.7 million building project.
State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee, said then-Administration Secretary Marc Marotta violated the state's procurement law in April 2004 when he met with Weas Development Co. founder Doug Weas because Weas was trying to land a contract to refurbish the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Kenilworth Building. State law says all bidders must be treated equally.
Weas' firm was part of a team that ultimately got the project.
Thad Nation, a spokesman for Marotta, said Weas was not treated differently. Marotta gave similar information to the other bidders, he said. He noted that Marotta's calendar showed he also spoke by phone with a lobbyist for another bidder.
Nation said Fitzgerald's comments amounted to a political attack lodged as the Nov. 7 race heats up between Doyle and his Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Mark Green of Green Bay.
When the project first went out to bid in 2003, UWM favored Prism, a three-member partnership that once included state Rep. Curt Gielow (R-Mequon). But competitor J.P. Cullen & Sons of Janesville alleged Prism was improperly allowed to change its proposal and threatened a lawsuit. Shortly thereafter, the state Building Commission - which is led by Doyle and includes several Republican legislators - unanimously voted to restart the bidding process, Journal Sentinel columnists Cary Spivak and Dan Bice reported this June.
The work then went to a team made up of Weas, KBS Construction and Hammel, Green & Abrahamson. Employees of those firms have given Doyle $51,000 since late 2003, records show.
Prism is now suing the state in Ozaukee County Circuit Court alleging Marotta improperly intervened in the contract. The state Department of Justice said last month that it was reviewing how the contract was handled.
Marotta stepped down as administration secretary last year. He now is chairman of Doyle's re-election campaign.
Fitzgerald said the meeting with Weas violated a state statute that requires all bidders to be treated equally. He said investigators should look into that meeting.
"I think there is one piece of overwhelming evidence, circumstantial as it might be, but it's still an appointment calendar that verifies there was an illegal meeting between the secretary and a person involved in the bidding process," Fitzgerald said. "It happened. That's a fact. It's been confirmed. It's clear to me that is a violation of the (bidding) process."
Fitzgerald leveled the charge a day after Madison's WKOW-TV reported on the meeting.
Weas and David Cullen of J.P. Cullen & Son did not return calls Thursday. Weas told WKOW he sought out Marotta because he wanted to find out whether it was worth it to go up against much bigger competitors.
Marotta did not return a phone call, but Nation said Marotta directed bidders to procurement officials if they raised questions about how the bids would be evaluated, but that Marotta told them what the state hoped to achieve.
"That's his job as secretary of DOA, is to talk about things like that," Nation said.
Fitzgerald said the disclosure of the meeting raised questions about Marotta's June testimony before the Joint Finance Committee about how he handled the procurement process. Marotta said then that once the bidding process started, he referred calls from people vying for business to procurement staff.
Marotta was called before the committee after state procurement supervisor Georgia Thompson was convicted of steering business to Adelman Travel, whose employees gave $20,000 to Doyle.From the Aug. 18, 2006 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel