St. John & Partners Files Bid Protest Over Florida Lottery Contract

By Erik Oster 

Last Friday, we wrote about Florida Lottery appointing Tampa-based agency PP+K as its general market agency of record following a review. We noted that a spokeswoman for the Florida Lottery declined to comment to Florida Politics prior to a “safe-harbor period” ending some time on Friday, which coincided with the deadline for losing bidders in the review to file an administrative protest over the decision. Now SaintPetersBlog reports that incumbent agency St. John & Partners has filed a 166-page bid protest.

St. John & Partners had held the account since 2009. Following the review which resulted in St. John & Partners winning the account, Zimmerman Advertising lodged a protest of its own, which held up the award for several weeks.

According to SaintPetersBlog, among the allegations in the bid protest are that Tallahassee consultant David Bishop failed to observe a law regarding a two-year ban on former agency officials lobbying their former employers. The bid protest claims Bishop, a former deputy secretary of the Florida Lottery, lobbied on behalf of PP+K just 15 months after leaving his former position. PP+K maintains that Bishop “never met with any Lottery official privately” and never otherwise “actively lobbied” on PP+K’s behalf. Other allegations include that Florida Lottery broke the state’s Sunshine Law by failing to provide a public hearing discussing “the relative merits of the vendors and arrive at a best value determination and award recommendation,” and that they also never requested a “best and final offer” from participating agencies.

In the bid protest, St. John & Partners asks that Florida Lottery suspends awarding the contract to PP+K, until the decision is resolved either by the court or “final agency action,” either scrapping the award and relaunching the review or awarding it to the incumbent.