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Election consultant contract questioned

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Under directions from Gov. Bob Riley, the state government has paid Montgomery County's elections director $39,925 since October under a no-bid contract to help develop a statewide voter database.

The Press-Register, which disclosed the payments in a story Monday, said the money has been paid to Trey Granger III through a $100-an-hour contract. Granger said he performed the work on nights and weekends.

Some members of the Legislature's Contract Review Committee have complained that the contract wasn't submitted to them for review until last month — five months after the agreement started. But the Riley administration says it was not necessary because Granger was hired under a federal court order that gave the governor broad powers to meet a summer deadline for developing the database.

"Because it was being done under the federal court order, we believed and still believe that it was not required that it be brought before Contract Review," said Ken Wallis, Riley's legal adviser.

Two Contract Review Committee members, Reps. Neal Morrison, D-Cullman, and Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, said Granger was paid without proper authorization from the committee because all no-bid contracts must come before the committee before money is spent.

"The comptroller's office should have never paid them," Morrison said.

State Comptroller Bob Childree said attorneys reviewed the matter, and the payment was appropriate because the federal courts have broad powers that trump state law on such matters.

Granger was general counsel to Secretary of State Nancy Worley until Aug. 29, 2005, when he was employed by Montgomery County as its elections manager. The position has a pay range of $51,465 to $73,262.

One of Worley's duties as secretary of state was to develop a statewide voter registration database, as required by the federal Help America Vote Act. When she failed to meet federal deadlines for getting the job done, a federal judge took the duty away from her last year and named the governor as a "special master" to complete the job by Aug. 31, 2007. The judge also gave the governor control of the $12.1 million the secretary of state had received in federal funding to finance the database.

Riley appointed a commission to oversee the project and named Granger as one of the commission members.

The commission agreed in October for Granger to be the managing commissioner and that he should be paid like a consultant.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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