L.A. police union calls for investigation into city’s COVID-19 testing contract

Local news

The Los Angeles Police Protective League is calling for an investigation into the contract awarded for COVID-19 testing, alleging conflicts of interest and ethical violations.

City employees, including police officers and firefighters, who aren’t vaccinated have to be tested for COVID-19 twice per week at a cost of $65 per test, which is deducted from their paychecks.

Those tests must be performed by Bluestone, according to Detective Jamie McBride, director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

Bluestone is owned by PPS Health, which is partially owned by Pedram Salimpour, who serves on the Board of Fire and Police Pension Commissioners, which handles retirement benefits for many city employees.

Salimpour has also contributed to the campaigns of several city officials, McBride said.

“They literally just handed over a $3 million contract to a political donor who is also a city commissioner. I think anyone walking down the street, if you ask them, they’re going to say this doesn’t pass the smell test,” McBride said.

The LAFPP said in a statement that Salimpour “was not engaged nor part of the review and vetting process concerning the COVID-19 testing contract.”

Salimpour has not yet commented, but there may not be an issue, according to Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School and former president of the L.A. Ethics Commission.

“Just because someone is a donor, just because they have connections, doesn’t mean that they are disqualified with them later doing business with the city, necessarily,” Levinson said.

In addition, the city’s Personnel Department reported that they vetted seven vendors for this no-bid contract, and Bluestone was chosen because it was the only company that could offer a variety of services at a competitive rate, adding that Bluestone has also done good work for the county.

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