Pruett got campaign $$ from firm suing his opponent |

Pruett got campaign $$ from firm suing his opponent

Candidate Barry Pruett has received a $1,500 campaign contribution from the owner of a software firm that is suing his opponent, incumbent Clerk-Recorder Gregory Diaz.

Nevada County campaign records show Pruett received his highest recorded contribution on Oct. 30, 2009, from Linda Maclam. She is the owner of AtPac Inc., an Auburn software firm that sued Diaz in federal court last week for alleged breach of contract.

Maclam would not comment Monday, referring all questions to lawyer Michael Thomas of Sacramento, who filed the suit.

AtPac’s suit claims Diaz revealed the firm’s trade secrets to Aptitude Solutions, a Florida company that beat AtPac for a county software contract at a November 2008 Board of Supervisors meeting. Until then, AtPac had held the contract for nearly 10 years.

“I know there was probable cause for the claims in the lawsuit,” Thomas said. “It has no connection whatsoever with political contests or campaigns.”

In an e-mail to The Union, Pruett said Maclam was “one of my proud supporters” and lives in Grass Valley.

Pruett, also a lawyer, represented AtPac at the November 2008 supervisors meeting. At that meeting, he and AtPac President Kirk Weir accused Diaz and the county of stacking the deck for the contract to favor Aptitude, according to official minutes of the meeting.

Aptitude has been named along with Nevada County in AtPac’s suit.

While representing AtPac, Pruett also sent a series of questions to Diaz’s office in an Aug. 15, 2009, letter about the process surrounding the county’s request for proposals.

Pruett said earlier this week that he stopped working for AtPac on the matter about eight months ago when he was still with the Auburn law firm that AtPac had hired to deal with the bidding process.

When Diaz was appointed to the office in 2007, he wanted to investigate other software for greater efficiency when he realized he would be losing workers to budget constraints, Diaz said Monday – echoing an argument he made during the November 2008 Board of Supervisors’ meeting.

Diaz asked the county’s purchasing office to set up a request for proposals process in June 2008. He provided the purchasing office with a list of other vendors, but AtPac was not included, he said during the November 2008 meeting.

County Purchasing Agent Mary Ross said Diaz had assumed that her office would include AtPac when they sent out requests for bids – but the office didn’t.

“It was a very honest mistake that has become central to this whole thing,” Ross said Monday.

When it was discovered that AtPac had not been informed, the firm was brought into the process, and the deadline for proposals was extended to Sept. 4, 2008, Ross said.

Six proposals came in for the software, Ross said. Three finalists were selected by a team that included Diaz, and Clerk-Recorder Assistant Teresa Acevedo and other county employees.

Diaz did not participate in the scoring process for the proposals, Ross said in a November 2008 memo. The team scoring ended up with Aptitude Solutions, Record Fusion, AmCad and AtPac as the top four bidders.

AmCad was rejected when its five-year cost of $755,000 for a purchase and maintenance contract was deemed too expensive by Diaz. Record Fusion’s proposal called for a five-year contract costing $502,000; it was deemed too pricey by the team, according to county records.

Aptitude’s $357,000 contract won out, although it was more costly than AtPac’s five-year cost of $303,000, according to county documents.

Diaz told the Board of Supervisors in November 2008 that Aptitude’s system would bring greater efficiencies and would allow his office to deliver and record electronic documents without using third-party services at additional charges.

AtPac had chosen to not earn certification from the State of California to offer electronic document services, Diaz told the board.

Diaz had dealt with AtPac while he was San Francisco clerk-recorder and assistant clerk-recorder from 1989 to 2003, he said. He had a good working relationship with AtPac founder Jim Maclam, who later died and whose wife made the recent donation to opponent Pruett.

Diaz did not have a professional relationship with Aptitude, AtPac’s competitor, before the supervisors selected its software contract unanimously in November 2008, he said.

But he knew of the firm, along with about 10 others that produce software for county clerk offices around the country; he had met representatives from the companies and chatted with them about their products at conferences, Diaz said.

In June 2007, not long after taking office in Nevada County, Diaz had met with AtPac’s Weir and CEO Wayne Long to tell them they should deal with him if they had any questions about the existing contract.

He heard nothing from Weir and Long for 13 months.

Then, during the bidding process, AtPac sent the Clerk-Recorder’s Office a letter on July 31, 2008, terminating the company’s contract with Nevada County, Diaz said – as was the firm’s right.

AtPac’s letter was addressed to Diaz’s predecessor, Kathleen Smith.

“It would have been nice if they’d addressed it to Gregory Diaz,” Diaz said. “The letter did a lot for me to have a new recording system,” he added. “The letter indicated to me the county should look for a new system.”

Diaz has not filed any campaign contribution statements yet; he filed for office after the first of the year, so he must report campaign finances by March 22. However, Diaz said he has not received campaign contributions from Aptitude or AtPac.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail or call (530) 477-4237.

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