It was Jan. 8 when lobbyist Brian Ballard met with Adam Hollingsworth, Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of staff.
That’s not necessarily a freak event. Ballard, who served as the chair of Scott’s finance committee for his 2011 inauguration, is one of the most powerful lobbyists in Tallahassee, who bundles millions in campaign cash from clients for Scott and other Republicans.
What is noteworthy is what they discussed: Deloitte Consulting, a Ballard client.
Deloitte is the vendor of the state’s troubled $63 million CONNECT website, which since its debut in October has struggled with technical glitches, delaying unemployment benefits for thousands of recipients.
Since Dec. 20, Deloitte has been fined $15,000 a day until the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity deems the contractor to be in compliance with its contract.
The night before they met, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson requested that the U.S. Department of Labor investigate what has gone wrong with the website.
On the day of the meeting, the DEO’s executive director, Jesse Panuccio, announced that another company, a rival that was beaten out for the job in 2010, was getting hired to consult on the project. Capgemini, a French company, would be paid $365,000 to serve as the state’s eyes and ears, looking over the shoulder of Deloitte programmers scrambling to fix the website.
Asked Friday about the meeting, Ballard wouldn’t comment, stating client confidentiality.