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Texas: Toll Road Authority Solicits Cash from Contractors
Harris County, Texas toll road officials caught soliciting cash contributions from contractors.

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Harris County, Texas Toll Road Authority officials solicited cash contributions from contractors for the personal benefit of toll road employees. The county auditor's office announced yesterday that it would launch an official investigation into the authority's activities over the past five years.

The announcement followed revelations in the Houston Chronicle newspaper that thirty-one contractors received letters asking for a total of $100,000 in contributions to a special "Celebration Committee" bank account that would have funded a picnic in mid-July. Contractors would be rewarded with bronze, silver, gold or platinum recognition depending on how much each contributed. Many of the companies involved include engineering firms that seek to do future business with the toll road.

Toll Road Authority Executive Director Mike Strech, 67, was forced to resign and the lavish party canceled. A similar picnic last year raised $60,000 from contractors to entertain 1400 toll road employees.

Source: Parties at toll agency draw inquiry (Houston Chronicle, 6/6/2007)

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