Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, who is running against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the upcoming state recall election, allegedly awarded illegal no-bid contracts to a campaign donor, according to two metal recycling firms who are threatening to sue the city.
The two firms claim they were shut out of business by a third company that obtained exclusive contracts through the city. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:
A lawyer for Mill Valley Recycling and Waukesha Iron & Metal filed a notice of claim Tuesday, saying they will sue if the city doesn't rescind its ongoing contract with Miller Compressing and offer other companies the opportunity to bid on the work. …
A contract was awarded to Miller […] after bidding in 1990 and 1994. The latter was "privately extended" through 2000 without competitive bidding, according to the claim notice. In 2001, when the contract had expired, it was extended "in secret and without public bid" on a month-to-month basis to October 2003, when the parties entered a contract until 2005, and then until 2009.
The other firms contend that the public works commissioner has never made a formal determination that it was best to go without a contract.
In 2010, Miller Compression gave $10,500 to Barrett in campaign contributions immediately after the company was awarded another no-bid contract in 2009.
Republican Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Ben Sparks said in a statement that the arrangement "reeks of pay-to-play politics."
"Tom Barrett giving away lucrative no-bid contracts to his campaign donors, all while increasing wasteful government spending by $300 million, simply highlights his gross mismanagement of the City of Milwaukee," Sparks said.
The Barrett campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.