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County OKs Contract Hike for Garcetti Donor

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a $2.5-million boost in the county’s contract with Lockheed Martin IMS to run the district attorney’s child support computer.

Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti, whose office endorsed the increase, has received more than $15,000 in donations from Lockheed employees for his reelection campaign.

The increase was opposed Tuesday by Supervisor Mike Antonovich, a perennial critic of the district attorney. The four other supervisors--all of whom, like Antonovich, have received campaign contributions from Lockheed--approved the increase without comment.

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The contract increase is to pay for the larger workload facing Lockheed since it began operating the county’s child support computer in 1995. Garcetti’s office said the company’s workload has risen 160% because of changes in state law that have complicated and improved child-support collections.

“[During] all this, Lockheed was doing the work,” Wayne Doss, director of Garcetti’s child support office, told supervisors. “They never stinted in doing the work.”

Lockheed filed a claim against the county in February to increase the contract, and the district attorney’s office in March wrote a memo to county lawyers concurring with Lockheed, noting that the issue must go before the board for approval.

Less than two months later, Lockheed gave $2,000 to Garcetti’s campaign and officeholder accounts. Then, in late June, Lockheed asked employees across the nation to give money to Garcetti, leading to 21 donations from a number of executives, most of whom live outside Los Angeles and none of whom had apparently given money to a county campaign before.

Those donations tallied more than $15,000 for the district attorney’s campaign war chest. Voter-approved county law restricts donations to $1,000 per corporation or person but apparently does not prevent multiple employees of one company from giving to the same campaign.

Earlier this month, Garcetti asked supervisors to approve the contract increase. Lockheed denied that there was any connection and defended the contributions as legal.

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Lockheed had given $9,000 previously to Garcetti’s campaigns, as well as more than $30,000 to the campaigns of all five supervisors. The company also built the district attorney’s child support computer, seeing an initial contract for $24 million swell to $55 million by 1995.

Antonovich complained that when supervisors considered which company would be awarded the contract to operate the system, the district attorney’s office recommended that Lockheed receive the contract over another firm that had bid $12 million less.

The justification was that the lower bid was unrealistic and that Lockheed would not come back later for more money. Doss said the fact that Lockheed came back asking for more shows that the other company’s bid was too low.

Antonovich noted that Garcetti’s office knew Lockheed’s workload had been rising since 1997 but did not ask the board to do something until this summer.

“It’s very fishy when the D.A. goes to Washington for money or when money comes here for this,” Antonovich said, apparently referring to a dinner Garcetti had with Lockheed executives in Washington in May.

Doss countered that the office had not gone to Washington for money.

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