PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- According to a published report, the million-dollar no-bid contract given to Governor Doug Ducey's former political consult has now tripled in price.

As first reported by Arizona's Family, the original agreement with Mario Diaz started at nearly $270,000 to run a COVID education campaign focused on boosting vaccination rates in areas with high Hispanic populations. The contract was amended twice and increased to $1.2 million, according to copies of the deal that are publicly available online.

Questions raised over no-bid COVID-19 contract given to ex-Ducey advisor

But the Arizona Republic reported this week that Diaz, who is also a lobbyist, will now get $3 million to run similar programs in Phoenix as well as in Mesa and Yuma. Diaz, who was a paid political consultant on Ducey's 2018 re-election campaign, declined to comment for the story.

In addition, the state health department, which issued the contract, denied our request to speak with its director, Dr. Cara Christ, and its top procurement officer. During a press conference last week, Christ defended giving Diaz what now appears to be a multi-million-dollar contract without seeking other offers.

"We are continuing to work with Mario Diaz as a partner. He is a trusted community member in that community," she said.

Former state health director Will Humble criticized the decision, saying the department should have sought other bids for the work.

"The purpose for the procurement code is to provide assurances that the taxpayer, that they are getting a fair shake, that they are getting a good bang for their buck," he said.

 

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