Former Alabama Gov's Daughter Lands $72k No-Bid Contract to Answer a Googleable Question

Quick! Someone asks you a simple question: "What's the median income in Alabama?"  

Would you, (a) Use Google to find the answer on the U.S. Bureau of the Census website or (b) Set up a no-bid contract suggested by former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley's daughter and commission a $72,000 study with a Birmingham law firm that inquired about why they weren't getting any state business?

If you selected (b), you may be a member of the GOP supermajority, because that's exactly what happened. Not surprisingly, a member of the Riley clan is slurping at the public pork trough.

The Alabama Personnel Department entered into a $72,000 contract with Birmingham-based Baker Donelson Bearman in June to handle legal services and determine the median household income in the state, which will determine lawmakers’ salaries in the coming year.

The contract was negotiated in part by Minda Riley Campbell, a lobbyist who is also the daughter of former Gov. Bob Riley. It is the first Alabama government contract the law firm has received since 2009, according to state records. 

Under a constitutional amendment approved by state voters in 2012, lawmakers’ pay will be fixed to the state’s median household income starting next year. While the U.S. Census Bureau tracks household income, the amendment did not specify how that should be measured, but tasks the Personnel Department with determining it.  

Why not just turn to Google? Why...there are a lot of hard questions to answer!

“We want some outside legal authority to tell us which one do we use,” said Alice Ann Byrne, general counsel for the department. “Are we going to use the (household income) when they are elected in November? Do we change it in January? When do we do it? We want to make sure there’s no question.”

How is it exactly that a law firm would have the answers to those questions? Wouldn't it be a better idea to get an opinion from Alabama's attorney general (assuming he's not too busy suing the President) or ask the legislators who drafted the bill? Hey, that might even make it political.

“We are trying to make sure we don’t put the attorney general in a position to say what a lawmaker’s salary is,” Byrne said. “We’re trying to make sure there’s nothing political about it.” 

I guess we should be thankful that the Personnel Department didn't need a website too: They might have hired the same outfit that charged the state's Education Trust Fund $99,000 to build a WordPress site

Here's another question for Ms. Bryne. This is a one-year contract, will the department spend money on this every single year? And a question for Alabama's GOP legislators.... Is it remotely possible for you guys to pass a piece of legislation that makes sense and doesn't come with a sidecar load of "unintended consequences" and costs for the state? 

Former Governor Bob Riley and his buddies are already cashing in on the "scholarship" programs authorized by the Alabama Accountability Act. Looks like his daughter wanted a piece of that pie as well.

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