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Foreign Speed Camera Companies Pocket Millions In Bailout Cash
The foreign providers of red light cameras and speed cameras collected up to $9 million in federal pandemic bailout cash.

Cash photo by Pictures of Money/Flickr
Foreign providers of red light cameras and speed cameras have pocketed millions in federal taxpayer bailouts in the wake of the Covid-19 virus scare. Data released by the Small Business Administration and US Treasury indicate that photo ticketing companies, including firms based overseas and embroiled in scandal, collected up to $9 million in subsidies under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Although technically a loan, the PPP funding is "forgivable" -- that is, the company does not pay it back -- as long the firm says that 60 percent of the funds were used for payroll and employee levels were maintained during the crisis. The publicly available data indicate the range of the subsidy, rather than the precise amount.

Redflex Traffic Systems, based in Melbourne, Australia, collected up to $5 million under the program. That will help the company balance the books, as it has failed to turn a profit since it was caught in 2014 bribing officials in Illinois and Ohio. The chief of US operations for Redflex, its executive vice president, its lobbyist, its contractor and a Chicago city official were all convicted of felonies in the scandal, but the corruption was more widespread. A Redflex official testified that envelopes filled with cash handed to politicians in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington to bribe them into supporting automated enforcement.

Sensys Gatso, which is based in Jonkoping, Sweden, took up to $1 million in bailout funds. Redspeed, also took up to $1 million. Redspeed formerly was based in Kidderminster, England, until being sold last year to Sdiptech AB, which is based in Stockholm, Sweden.

Safespeed collected as much as $2 million, despite being the target of an ongoing federal corruption probe. Former Illinois state Senate Transportation Committee chairman Martin A. Sandoval admitted he took $250,000 in bribes from Safespeed to become the defender of photo enforcement in the legislature. Patrick J. Doherty, the chief of staff to Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski, bribed local officials on Safespeed's behalf. Chicago consultant William A. Helm was indicted for slipping cash to Sandoval so he would pressure the Illinois Department of Transportation. He entered a not guilty plea.

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