Thursday, June 29, 2006

Blago's chief of staff a family man

The Daily Herald's Eric Krol broke a big story this morning about a $100 million contract that mysteriously went to a firm that employs the sister of Rod Blagojevich's chief of staff.

I say mysterious because the administration is refusing to release the contract or details about whether it was competitively bid, and, if so, who the other bidders were.

Lon Monk, now campaign manager for Blagojevich's re-election bid, said Wednesday he had nothing to do with his sister's firm getting the contract.

"I wasn't aware of it until after the contract was awarded," said Monk, who met Blagojevich while both attended law school at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. "I never had any conversations about this with my sister or her business."

A Blagojevich public aid agency spokeswoman claimed the Pacificare deal was competitively bid, but the administration refused repeated requests to release the contract or public documents that would reveal how many companies showed interest.

The disclosure of the deal comes as the Blagojevich administration is under federal investigation for its hiring and contracting practices amid allegations campaign contributors were rewarded with special state contracts and commission appointments.

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