Documents reveal U. Iowa deals with GOP insider

The Old Capitol Building on the Pentacrest on campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa has quietly awarded no-bid contracts worth $320,000 to a prominent Republican Party consultant for polling and social media services.

The university obtained a waiver claiming no other firm could perform the polling work, which was then delivered through a subcontractor.

The Associated Press discovered UI's contracts with former Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn's company through a public records request. The university avoided a policy that normally requires competitive bidding.

Critics say it looks like cronyism between former GOP colleagues and a waste of money.

University spokeswoman Jeneane Beck says Strawn's company was chosen because it "provided better communication options across multiple platforms" than others. Strawn says his services are adding value.

Former university vice president Joe Brennan says he had no idea Strawn was involved.