The Bucks County “Quid Pro Quo” That Never Was

I thought the following item in yesterday’s Bucks County Courier Times was almost too funny for words…

A digital imaging company once hired by Bucks County claims it is being overlooked for government contracts after a racially charged sales meeting in the local GOP chairwoman’s office.

Foveonics Imaging Technologies of Toms River, N.J., sent a letter dated Jan. 22 to the Bucks County commissioners asking why it wasn’t chosen for a project to digitally scan and index documents in the recorder of deeds office.

In the letter obtained by the newspaper, the company said Bucks Recorder of Deeds Joseph Szafran used “poor judgment based on personal and racial prejudices” and cited statements “witnessed by Bucks County Republican Party Chairperson Pat Poprik in her office.”

Foveonics Vice President of Operations Robert Risberg said the meeting occurred Aug. 4, 2011, in Poprik’s office at the company’s suggestion. “She kind of liaisoned the meeting between the vice president of sales and the recorder of deeds,” said Risberg. “Our salesperson is the one that has the relationship with her.

“We’ve developed different relationships at various levels,” Risberg continued. Such meetings are “not normal” but “the reason we reached out to her was to try to just get the face-to-face.”

The company had no issue with the location of the meeting, but was upset by questions they said were asked by Szafran.

Foevonics attorneys claim Szafran asked the salesperson “why Foveonics had Mexicans running around putting books back incorrectly and scanning microfilm” and whether “they were here legally.”

Poprik and Szafran both insisted he never said that.

But wait – there’s more!…

State records show Foveonics Vice President of Sales Gregory DeTommaso made three campaign donations to the Bucks County Republican Committee between the 2009 and 2011. The total amount reported was $3,900.

DeTommaso referenced those contributions at the meeting, Poprik said. “He was starting to talk about political contributions and, frankly, that annoyed me and then I asked him to leave,” she said.

DeTommaso said he did bring up the campaign contributions during that meeting in 2011. And Poprik never blushed at the mention of those donations, he added.

“Quite frankly, the political contributions are what got me the meeting,” he said. “They had no problem taking the contributions. So, it was no secret. This is public knowledge. There’s nothing illegal about it.”

OK, so let’s take a step or two back here on this, OK?

A sales person working for a firm where a Republican Party campaign contributor works met with Joseph Szafran, the Bucks County Recorder of Deeds, over a contract to scan and digitally record data. And Szafran may or may not have made a racial slur at the meeting, which was also attended by Pat Poprik, Bucks County Repug Chairwoman, and held in Poprik’s office. And the contributor donated about $3,900.

Here is my first question: why the hell is a meeting taking place in the office of a Republican Party political operative when the meeting involves awarding public money for a government contract? And why was the donor’s company even eligible for the contract award to begin with?

And how dumb is Poprik (pictured above) anyway to decide to take part in the meeting and not think (supposedly) that the subject of the campaign contributions wouldn’t be discussed?

(By the way, the story tells us that, in addition to Foevonics – the company of Gregory DiTommaso, the Repug party contributor – another company called IMR Limited is being considered for the bid, one that has made contributions primarily to Democrats).

Here’s an idea; why not consider awarding the contract to a qualified company that hasn’t made contributions to anybody? You know, to at least give the appearance of propriety, if nothing else?

The last I heard of Poprik, by the way, she was carrying on about the supposed Democratic Party “scandal” of sending voter absentee ballots to something called the PA Voter Assistance Office in 2010. Horrors!

Of course, when an actual scandal shows up in their backyard, the silence is deafening.

2 Responses to The Bucks County “Quid Pro Quo” That Never Was

  1. Kathleen says:

    clear issues about lines being crossed here, denying employment opportunities based upon one’s racial or ethic background. If they are indeed the lowest bidder, and as one post stated they have prevoiusly worked in the county, Szafran better come up with something else beside being concerned about if they can speak English. If they send one person who can translate what’s the big deal, everyone should have a right to earn a living, those who want to work hard, and lack of language skills, should be allowed to work, heaven sakes the lack of language skills is something Szafran should be familar with. He may just have to develop some patience with minorites working around his office, I guess there aren’t any, but then he would have to be in the office to be bothered by them.

  2. doomsy says:

    I don’t know for certain whether or not Szafran actually said that stuff, though I guess there’s a pretty good chance that he did. And that is a good point that the firm in question had worked before for the county. My biggest gripe is the fact that, for some reason, a political operative was involved with negotiating a contract involving public money and none of the Republican party poobahs, who I guess would include Charley Martin and Rob Loughery, think that’s a problem.

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