On Wednesday, the city of Pensacola will deliver to a federal grand jury in Tallahassee its response to a subpoena, dated August 15 (See MX-2300N_20140827_180518). Five city directors and department heads have also been summoned to appear.
The federal grand jury meets in private. The U.S. Attorney does not publicly announce who or what transactions are the focus of its investigation. Witnesses appear without an attorney. Once the evidence is heard, the jury will decide if there is sufficient evidence that a federal crime has been committed to either issue an indictment or not. (See How a federal grand jury works).
The federal subpoena requests, among other documents, all records pertaining to the “Request for Qualifications Property Insurance – Broker of Record Services RFQ 12-016, issued on or about Feb. 9, 2012. Molton Allen & Williams was awarded the insurance broker contract.
Former Councilwoman Maren Deweese asked the State Attorney’s Office to look into award of that contract (MAW). She was concerned that Molton Allen Williams had paid for a dinner with Mayor Ashton Hayward, City Administrator Bill Reynolds and Chief of Staff John Asmar, that Asmar and city staff had provided information regarding the City’s insurance policies to MAW’s representatives and that the company had emailed the chief of staff that MAW could save the city $350,000. A RFQ was issued three months later and she questioned whether MAW was given an unfair advantage, citing that MAW’s Stuart Freeman was a friend of Hayward and Asmar.
As with the Jerry Pate Design contracts, the city pointed out that the mayor has several options for the purchase of commodities or services:
“…the Mayor shall reserve the option to utilize the invitation to bid procedure, request for proposals, informal quotes or to negotiate, depending upon which alternative is deemed by the Mayor to be in the best interest of the City.”
The city has presented a copy of an email from Jim Odom, City’s risk manager, recommending MAW as the broker of record. See BrokerAward
The State Attorney’s Office declined to investigate the matter further.
We don’t know if the federal grand jury is even looking at the same evidence or if something else has been brought forward to the U.S. Attorney.
Inweekly has a public request with the city of Pensacola for the information it has compiled to fulfill its subpoena ( MX-2300N_20140827_180518). We have been told that we will be allowed to review those public documents this week, possibly tomorrow. Those files may tell us more about what this investigation may concern.