Democrats call on Governor Parson to fire COO, cancel multi-million dollar contract
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri democrats want Governor Mike Parson fire his chief operating officer and cancel a contract awarded to the COO's former employer.
Former Governor Eric Greitens created a COO position early in his administration and hired Andrew Erdmann.
Earlier this month, the state awarded a $2.7 million contract to Erdmann's former employer McKinsey & Co. to look into medicaid spending and fraud.
Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, released a statement Monday morning describing the COO as an "excessively paid staffer with an empty title" and calling the contract with his former employer "shady." Beatty said no other governor has had this position in their administration. Both Beatty and Rep. Chuck Bayse, R-Rocheport, said they are unsure of what the position is for.
In the statement sent the governor's office, Beatty said the contract with McKinsey & Co is "bloated." She said there were three other bids for the contract that were significantly lower.
"The next closest bid was a little over $900,000. When we talk about being responsible for taxpayer dollars its very concerning to me that we overlooked three bids that were under $1 million," she said.
Beatty argued that if the next highest bid was considered, the $1.7 million saved could have been put to better use.
"When we have been incredibly conservative with tax payers’ dollars and we’re having to cut programs, an additional $1.7 million could have been used for mental health. We could’ve used $1.7 million for k-12 transportation," said Beatty.
However, Bayse said the price price of the contract is not something that he's concerned about.
"Often times you get what you pay for. Sometimes the lowest bid isn’t always the best bid so you have to weights factors in as well," said Bayse.
Bayse said he believes the contract needs to stay in place in order to look further into medicaid fraud. He said he also finds it interesting that the position was created before Greitens' stepped down as governor but this is the first time he is hearing about a complaint with both the contract and the COO position.
"In the past certain members of the democratic party are very very skillful at manufacturing crisis and I don’t know if that’s the case now but I don’t think they have anything to run on," Bayse said. "They don’t have any issues that they stand for that has worked in the past. Maybe they’re just trying to find something they can gain attraction on."
Beatty said she hopes Governor Parson will at least revisit the contract and COO position.
"The statement was put out and I’m asking for the governor to respond and review that contract and how it was awarded," she said.
Parson's public relations spokesperson, Kelli Jones, released the following statement: "The Governor’s Office has a long standing practice of wholly excluding itself from participating directly or indirectly with the procurement decision making process. It is a process that is exclusively left to the Office of Administration and is a fully transparent process that this Office supports."