Speed camera lobbyist objects to inspector general's report

Lobbyist defends former mayoral aide accused of trying to steer speed camera contract.

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Lobbyist Sean Malone objected Friday to a Baltimore inspector general's report that alleged a former top mayoral aide attempted to steer a lucrative speed camera contract to a firm represented by Malone.

Inspector General Robert H. Pearre Jr. has accused Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's former chief of staff, Alexander M. Sanchez, of inappropriately trying to help Xerox State & Local Solutions keep a contract to run the city's speed camera system, even though procurement staff said another company had won the bidding process. That company, Brekford Corp., ultimately was awarded the contract.

Malone wrote in a letter that Pearre's report was "incorrect" in alleging that Sanchez acted on behalf of Malone's clients instead of taxpayers during the bidding process. Malone also said that Pearre never attempted to interview him before publishing the report.

"This is not true and not supported by the facts cited in your report," Malone wrote of the allegations. "I respectfully urge you to retract the report or portions of the report that associate my firm with any perceived violations or inappropriate conduct."

Malone wrote that communications between his firm and Sanchez were an attempt to ensure fair treatment from city officials considering the bids.

"We did not make a request that our client be awarded the contract, only that our bid be given its proper consideration," Malone wrote.

Pearre did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sanchez, who resigned from his $178,000 job at City Hall in May, is now chief operating officer at Goodwill Industries International. He did not respond to requests for comment. The inspector general's investigation was underway in May, but a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake said it had nothing to do with Sanchez leaving his job.

The city's speed camera system was run for years by Xerox and briefly by Brekford. It was shut down in April 2013 after repeatedly issuing erroneous tickets.

An investigation by The Baltimore Sun found errors in the citations issued by many cameras, including tickets for slow-moving or even stopped cars. A leaked audit of the Xerox system later showed the errors were even more widespread than the city had disclosed, with some cameras having error rates of more than 10 percent. Tests of Brekford's system also disclosed widespread problems.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

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