Contracting the stimulus

Gov. Bill Ritter would have been better off to ask for bids on legal work related to the $3 billion in federal stimulus funding Colorado is to receive, instead of approving a no-bid contract with his former law firm.

But that doesn’t mean Hogan and Hartson is a poor choice to do the work. In fact, it is one of Colorado’s pre-eminent law firms, with lawyers from both sides of the political aisle. One of Ritter’s Republican opponents in his re-election bid next year, Scott McInnis, is a partner at the law firm.

Furthermore, the firm is very well qualified to deal with the intricacies of federal legislation and public finance. Congress made the stimulus funding a complicated patchwork of conditions and mandates on how the money may be spent, so such expertise is certainly warranted.

Even so, some of Ritter’s opponents will no doubt make much of the fact that he awarded the contract to his old legal buddies. The governor could have deflected that criticism if he had put the contract out to bid. He chose not to, as is his legal right. Now it is one more issue he’ll have to respond to as the campaign progresses.


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