Audit questions state's contract with real estate firm - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Audit questions state's contract with real estate firm tied to governor

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The state comptroller's office had strong words Wednesday about an issue first uncovered by the Channel 4 I-Team.

A Department of General Services audit says a private firm with ties to Gov. Bill Haslam had an unfair advantage when it landed a multi-million dollar contract to handle the state's real estate.

The Channel 4 I-Team first reported earlier this year about the state's plan to outsource all its maintenance and management work on state buildings to global real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle. That move cost dozens of state employees their jobs.

Haslam did list JLL as one of his more than 200 investments in his 2010 financial disclosure statement, but the governor's office has adamantly said that had nothing to do with the firm getting the contract.

When the state first awarded that contract, it was for $1 million, but the contract now stands at $38 million. The governor's office had said they had always known it would cost more to do the work of managing the state's real estate.

According to the state audit, the Department of General Services did not violate state law when it gave JLL the contract, but it did intentionally enter into a contract that was too broad in scope.

The audit says the contract allows JLL to make recommendations about how the state manages its real estate assets when the corporation can benefit from the very moves it recommends.

The audit says that's a conflict of interest, but the Department of General Services says it's not.

"Prior to this, we had some very serious issues with real estate at the state as far as life and safety. We literally had chunks of buildings falling on people. We had deferred maintenance, which isn't fair to future generations. And we were spending a lot more money than we should have on leases. All of those have been addressed, and I think the state is in a much better position than it was," Haslam said.

The governor's investments are now in a blind trust, so there is now way to know whether or not he still holds investments with JLL.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • WDAM.com FeaturesMore>>

  • Local NewsLOCALMore>>

  • Council votes to keep Bay Street business closed

    Council votes to keep Bay Street business closed

    Tuesday, September 19 2017 10:39 PM EDT2017-09-20 02:39:47 GMT

    An old gas station on Bay Street will stay closed, but future growth on the Hattiesburg corridor is still an option.

    More >>

    An old gas station on Bay Street will stay closed, but future growth on the Hattiesburg corridor is still an option.

    More >>
  • Hattiesburg warns residents of email scam

    Hattiesburg warns residents of email scam

    Tuesday, September 19 2017 10:26 PM EDT2017-09-20 02:26:45 GMT
    Example of scam email Source: City of HattiesburgExample of scam email Source: City of Hattiesburg
    The City of Hattiesburg warned its residents about an email scam making its rounds on Tuesday.  "Today, a Hattiesburg resident made city officials aware of an email scam regarding parking tickets," read the email from the city.  All tickets issued by Hattiesburg's Parking Division are paper and will not be delivered electronically, according to city clerk Kermas Eaton. Residents should be careful to pay attention to any email or phone correspondents asking for pe...More >>
    The City of Hattiesburg warned its residents about an email scam making its rounds on Tuesday.  "Today, a Hattiesburg resident made city officials aware of an email scam regarding parking tickets," read the email from the city.  All tickets issued by Hattiesburg's Parking Division are paper and will not be delivered electronically, according to city clerk Kermas Eaton. Residents should be careful to pay attention to any email or phone correspondents asking for pe...More >>
  • State auditor gives overview of state spending to GOP Women's group

    State auditor gives overview of state spending to GOP Women's group

    Tuesday, September 19 2017 9:13 PM EDT2017-09-20 01:13:39 GMT
    State auditor Stacey Pickering speaks to a meeting of Forrest-Lamar Republican Women Tuesday. Photo credit WDAM.State auditor Stacey Pickering speaks to a meeting of Forrest-Lamar Republican Women Tuesday. Photo credit WDAM.

    State Auditor Stacey Pickering presented an overview of Mississippi's fiscal spending during a meeting of Forrest-Lamar Republican Women Tuesday. Pickering spoke about the state's new comprehensive annual financial report. That report and the Legislative Budget Report, just released Tuesday, can be found on the state auditor's website at osa.ms.gov. Pickering said his office is currently engaged in several public corruption investigations, which have led to several arrests in No...

    More >>

    State Auditor Stacey Pickering presented an overview of Mississippi's fiscal spending during a meeting of Forrest-Lamar Republican Women Tuesday. Pickering spoke about the state's new comprehensive annual financial report. That report and the Legislative Budget Report, just released Tuesday, can be found on the state auditor's website at osa.ms.gov. Pickering said his

    More >>
Powered by Frankly