AP Exclusive: California health exchange awards millions in no-bid contracts; ties questioned

Markets Associated Press

California's health insurance exchange has awarded $184 million in contracts without the competitive bidding and oversight that is standard practice across state government.

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An Associated Press review of contracting records finds some of those deals sent millions of dollars to a firm whose employees have ties to the agency's executive director.

Awarding no-bid contracts is unusual in state government, where rules promote competition to give taxpayers the best deal and avoid ethical conflicts.

The Legislature gave Covered California broad authority to award no-bid contracts to meet federal deadlines to get the agency running.

Several contracts worth a total of $4.2 million went to The Tori Group, a consulting firm whose founder has strong ties to agency Executive Director Peter Lee.

Lee says he picked the best people for the job.