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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2005
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EDITORIAL

No-bid legal contract embarrassing for Riley

No-bid contracts of the Siegelman administration helped candidate Bob Riley convince voters of corruption in the governor's office during the 2002 campaign.

A Republican congressman at the time, Mr. Riley hammered effectively at Don Siegelman's integrity. He called no-bid contracts a waste of taxpayer dollars and pledged to end the practice.

Last week, however, the governor's revenue commissioner had to explain why his department paid a small Montgomery law firm more than $3 million for legal work that far exceeded the $100,000 the Legislature's Contract Review Committee originally approved.

Tom Surtees fell back on an attorney general advisory opinion that said because Slate Kennedy had deputy attorney general designation, a contract wasn't necessary.

But Rep. Neal Morrison, D-Cullman, presented a letter from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions that said such contracts are subject to state law that requires review of the panel.

Mr. Surtees promised that future contracts with attorneys would come to the panel for review.

It is surprising that the governor's cabinet member wasn't sensitive to Mr. Riley's crusade against no-bid contracts and the suggestion of their link to alleged corruption during the Siegelman years.

For a governor who's had a clean administration, this ongoing, no-bid contract to handle claims of out-of-state firms seeking reimbursement for overpayment of taxes should be embarrassing.

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