By Pat Loeb

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — The Delaware River Port Authority is looking for a public relations firm to help improve its image, but it has decided it can’t wait.

Now, the agency that operates four bridges and the Patco rail line is preparing to award a temporary contract to a well-connected Pennsylvanian.

And David La Torre, the man previously hired by Penn State University to handle the Sandusky scandal, says he’s ready for this new challenge.

“I look forward to working with the DRPA during this critical time,” he tells KYW Newsradio, while declining to comment on whether his political contributions could have been a factor in his hiring.

State records show that LaTorre and a PAC he co-founded contributed thousands of dollars to Pennsylvania lieutenant governor Jim Cawley, who also serves as chairman of the DRPA.

The DRPA’s deputy chief, Michael Conallen, says La Torre’s contribution history wasn’t a factor.

“Staff determined that La Torre Communications was the best firm to assist us.  Staff had no knowledge of any contribution LaTorre may have made to anybody,” Conallen insists.

Conallen says the board won’t even vote on the contract, because it’s temporary.  The DRPA wants a long-term contract with a firm to keep the public informed about its capital projects and,  it says,  regain the trust of the community.


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