Probe Finds No Bid-Rigging by CRA Director

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An investigation into the alleged mishandling of two public relations contracts by Community Redevelopment Agency Executive Director John Tuite has turned up no evidence that he rigged bids or falsified documents, officials announced Thursday.

However, the probe by the CRA Board of Commissioners determined that Tuite used authority he had been given in ways the board had not intended, and it ordered a review of agency practices involving contracts for less than $25,000.

Mayor Tom Bradley requested the investigation last month after allegations surfaced that a public relations firm had been hired by the CRA without competitive bidding, that Tuite used public funds to pay a consultant to promote his image, and that agency documents were falsely backdated.

Tuite, who has held the $136,000-a-year job since 1986, denied wrongdoing at the time, and, in a statement issued Thursday, said he felt vindicated.

"I've maintained from the start that the allegations were bogus," Tuite said. "After an extensive review, the CRA Board of Commissioners unanimously arrived at the same conclusion in dismissing all the claims as groundless."

After three closed-door meetings over the last two weeks, the board said it determined that Tuite did not hire publicists Jane Duff and the Lippin Group for "self-promotion," that there was no evidence that bids were deliberately rigged to select a particular bidder and that there was no evidence that documents were backdated to falsify contracts.

But, in a written statement, the board said that, although it had delegated broad powers to Tuite in the handling of contracts for less than $25,000, there appeared to be "substantial difference" between written policies and actual agency practices.

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