[E-voting] Cullen adviser sat on interview panel that awarded e-voting contract

adam beecher lists at beecher.net
Sat Mar 6 11:27:29 GMT 2004

>From the Examiner...

Cullen adviser sat on interview panel that awarded e-voting contract
By Fionnán Sheahan, Political Correspondent


MARTIN CULLEN’S former election campaign manager sat on the interview panel
that awarded the €4.7 million electronic voting publicity contract to
so-called “friends of Fianna Fáil”.

The minister for the environment’s PR adviser Monica Leech works on a
contract basis, worth more than €10,000 a month, since being appointed after
the 2002 general election.

Ms Leech was a member of the tendering group which granted the €4.7m
contract to a consortium, which included a company run by former FF general
secretary Martin Macken and former Taoiseach’s adviser Jackie Gallagher. The
involvement of Q4 Public Relations resulted in accusations of cronyism as
Fine Gael claimed the contract was given to “friends of Fianna Fáil.”

Initially, Ms Leech’s company was hired to fill the post as the minister’s
communications adviser on a six-month contract after the Department of the
Environment invited a tender only from Monica Leech Communications.

Subsequently, three companies were invited to tender for a longer-term
communications consultancy contract. According to Mr Cullen, the selection
process was overseen by a committee made up of a small group of senior
officials, who recommended the tender from Ms Leech’s firm was the most
economically advantageous, so a two-year contract up to February 2005 was

Mr Cullen confirmed that since July 2002, consultancy payments made to the
company amount to €135,840, but this was after withholding tax of €33,960
and also did not include VAT of €35,658, meaning that Ms Leech’s gross
payment over the period was €205,458 or €10,273 a month.

Aside from her political work with Mr Cullen, Ms Leech is a former chief
executive of Waterford Tourism as well as holding senior positions with the
Chambers of Commerce of Ireland. Describing Ms Leech as a political
activist, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said she should not have been
adjudicating on the electronic voting publicity contract.

But a department spokesman said Ms Leech was the minister’s communications
advisor and the e-voting PR contract was a communications strategy, similar
to other contracts she has been involved in awarding.

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