TN Governor Calls Conflict Of Interest Claims A ‘Huge Stretch’

Gov. Bill Haslam says it's a "huge stretch" to suggest there's a conflict of interest in outsourcing building management for the state to a company he invested in. Credit: TN Photo Services

Gov. Bill Haslam says it’s a “huge stretch” to suggest there’s a conflict of interest in outsourcing building management for the state to a company he invested in. Credit: TN Photo Services

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says he doesn’t see a problem with granting a state contract to a company he once invested in. Questions have been raised about the state’s new outsourcing agreement with real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

The Chicago-based company secured* a $38 million contract to manage most state-owned properties for the next five years.

Governor Haslam says he’s not sure if he still has a stake in Jones Lang LaSalle because most of his assets were put in a blind trust.

“If there’s some implication that somehow because I used to have an investment with them, that there’s something improper there, I think – to me – is a huge stretch.”

Haslam points out that the state comptroller and the building commission had to sign off on the contract, which he says will save the state $100 million over time.

But the speakers of the state House and Senate are reviewing the deal. Republican Beth Harwell says she doesn’t believe anything was done wrong but says people have raised “legitimate concerns.”

*The original post quoted officials concerned about claims that Jones Lang LaSalle was the sole bidder to manage state office buildings. But Department of General Services spokeswoman Kelly Smith says CB Richard Ellis also bid on the job.


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