Insurance company sues JTA over contract

Company: JTA dropped contract because it declined mayoral campaign contribution


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local insurance company is suing the Jacksonville Transportation Authority because the company believes it was shut out of work for not supporting former Mayor Alvin Brown.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, the company, Brown and Brown, suggests it was shut out of a lucrative contract with JTA because it declined the former mayor's request for a campaign contribution. The insurance company has no ties to the former mayor, and Alvin Brown is not being sued.

According to the lawsuit, the then-mayor requested a campaign contribution from Brown and Brown, during what was a highly competitive and ultimately unsuccessful bid for re-election. During that conversation, Mayor Brown made reference to Brown and Brown’s ongoing work for the city of Jacksonville and JTA, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit does not allege any specific consequences were threatened if the company did not donate. But it implies that the company's decision not to contribute to the campaign led to the cancellation of a JTA contract it had been awarded.

Some JTA board members are appointed by the mayor.

To be awarded a contract with JTA, Brown and Brown had to bid against three other firms.

The lawsuit said that based on objective evaluation rules, the company's bid received the most points and JTA issued a notice that it would be awarded the contract.

But the company's lawsuit says JTA failed to execute its contract with Brown and Brown and instead canceled the contract without explanation. A move that came after the company declined to contribute to Alvin Brown's campaign.

Brown and Brown asked why the contract was canceled and the company was told there were substantive changes to the scope of the initial request for proposal, which outlines what the job would entail. JTA said it canceled the awarded contract and rebid the job, which went to another firm.

Brown and Brown appealed the decision to rebid the contract, and it claims in the lawsuit that JTA did not follow its own rules in that process.

The company's lawsuit asks the court to reconsider JTA's decision.

No court date has been set.

JTA said because this is in court, the agency cannot comment.

Alvin Brown is currently involved in a program at Georgetown University and has not responded to requests for comment.

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