Local company under scrutiny for coronavirus contracts

News

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A local business leader is defending his business dealings with the state after a media outlet called him out for some no-bid Coronavirus contracts. 

The story on the Florida Bulldog.org website insinuates that local attorney Bo Rivard used his political ties to secure millions of dollars in contracts with the state.

Besides being an attorney and a businessman, Rivard is also the chairman of Citizens Property Insurance. He was appointed to that post by Florida Chief Financial Officer and fellow Bay County business owner Jimmy Patronis in 2019. 

Rivard’s company — Consolidated Disaster Services — is also partially owned by Jay Trumbull Sr., Vice Chairman of the Flordia Transportation Commission and father of state representative Jay Trumbull Jr.  Rivard confirmed Trumbull Sr. has an 18 percent stake in Consolidated.

The company has been providing services to the state since 2013, Rivard said. 

The Bulldog article claims these connections had a major impact in Consolidated getting a recent state contract for medical masks.  But Rivard denies the claims. Consolidated became a state-approved vendor of ice and water in 2013. Under the state’s process officials with the governor’s office would request bids for what they needed, usually as a hurricane was approaching. Rivard said sometimes his company would offer the best cost on supplies and get the contract and sometimes they did not get a contract.

“We’re proud to help during times of crisis whether it’s a hurricane, wildfires or even now during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rivard said. “There is no conflict of interest with my business and it had absolutely nothing to do with the state asking us to help them find masks and other essential supplies during the crises. We consider it a privilege to be of service to the state and we always honor the legal and ethical requirements of any procurement. ” 

This year, when the state began searching for supplies to deal with the coronavirus they went back to their list of approved vendors and asked for help, Rivard said. He added that the state wanted millions of N-95 masks and other protection equipment. 

Consolidated Disaster Services was able to acquire 50,000 masks and then sell them to the state at cost, Rivard said. The company also provided 4,267 hospital beds as part of a multi-million contract. 

“The needs were great this year,” Rivard said. 

Rivard declined to get in the specifics of the hospital bed contract, which the Bulldog article also questioned.  News 13 sent a public records request to Gov. Ron Desantis’ office Friday afternoon, requesting all of Consolidated’s state contracts.  We did not immediately receive a response. However, many of the details can be found on the Florida Accountability Tracking System: https://facts.fldfs.com/  

One item listed on the tracking system under Consolidated Disaster Services shows 50 acute care hospital beds with a unit cost of $9,494 each and a total shipping cost of $50,000 for a total cost of $524,701. 

Rivard said to his knowledge the state has been satisfied with the beds, the masks, the ice, and the water his company delivers.

“We have a good working relationship with the state and as far as I know they are pleased with our service,” Rivard said. 

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