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Contract Delayed While Senate Probe Launched (Dec 03, 2010)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The signing of a $10 million contract to operate a new juvenile justice center has been delayed after reports of a relationship between a state senator and a lobbyist for the company that won the contract.

Senate President Pro Tem-elect Brian Bingman said Friday the Office of Juvenile Affairs has agreed to delay the contract signing for 30 days while the Senate investigates allegations that Sen. Harry Coates helped steer the contract to the Ada Youth Academy Authority.

The Oklahoman first reported the relationship between Coates and lobbyist Haley Atwood — whose clients include the company picked to operate the facility. The two did not deny a relationship.

House Speaker Kris Steele applauded the delay, saying the contract should not be signed under a "cloud of doubt."

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