Meeting held over Oklahoma juvenile center bid clouded by affair

An agency director met Thursday with the leader of the state Senate as part of an investigation into alleged bid rigging involving a multimillion-dollar state contract.

By JOHN ESTUS The Oklahoman & BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau Modified: December 3, 2010 at 8:23 am •  Published: December 3, 2010
Advertisement
;
An agency director met Thursday with the leader of the state Senate as part of an investigation into alleged bid rigging involving a multimillion-dollar state contract.

State officials are considering whether to delay awarding the contract to a group favored by Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole, and lobbyist Haley Atwood, who are having an extramarital affair.

The contract is to be signed Dec. 6. It is for new juvenile detention centers needed in part because the problematic L.E. Rader Center in Sand Springs is expected to be closed soon.

Brian Bingman, expected to be the Senate president pro tem, met in his office for about 45 minutes Thursday with Office of Juvenile Affairs Director Gene Christian. They declined to answer questions about what was discussed.

Christian has come under fire from failed bidders who claim he, Coates and Atwood rigged the bidding process to favor a client of Atwood.

Bingman's spokesman, Jared Brejcha, said the Senate investigation is "serious" and of an "explosive" nature.

"We will continue to reserve judgment on the matter until the full facts are known," Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said in a written statement.

The Oklahoman revealed Wednesday that Coates, 60, and Atwood, 29, were having an affair while working together to help steer the $10 million-a-year contract to a group working with Rite of Passage, a private juvenile academy operator that had hired Atwood.

Sen. David Myers, R-Ponca City, on Thursday said he has concerns with the way the juvenile center contract award process was handled.

"I think to be fair, they need to start the whole process all over again," Myers said.

Myers was among the lawmakers who visited a Rite of Passage academy in Colorado while discussions were under way about building a new juvenile center in Oklahoma.

Myers said he paid his own way and took a commercial flight. Myers said he attended because one of the proposals under discussion called for building a facility in Wakita, which is in his Senate district.

Continue reading this story on the...


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Hobby Lobby president talks about importance of God in business at Owasso Character luncheon
  2. 2
    Rickie Fowler's haircut is ready for the Ryder Cup
  3. 3
    Former Texas Tech DC Matt Wallerstedt says 'don't believe' rumors of dismissal
  4. 4
    Sex crime charges filed against former Tulsa County sheriff's deputy
  5. 5
    White House will now lock the front door | WashingtonExaminer.com
+ show more