I feel it necessary to respond to The Advocate’s troubling and misleading article regarding public contracts and our firm. The simple truth is, I have never had a conversation with Mayor-President Kip Holden before or since his election about prospective business of any kind for our firm.

Last December, a number of our clients informed us an Advocate reporter called them to ask if Mayor Holden had recommended our company to them, and our clients informed the reporter he had not. At that very same time, a curious thing happened. After telling us, “We will be processing your payments Monday,” 1st Co. Inc., a company we were working with on a project for the city-parish, abruptly reversed its position and decided it would not pay for work we had completed.

Since we started our company, this is the only time we have had to refer an invoice to attorneys for collection. This nonpayment was based on the recommendation of someone who had collected the funds from the city-parish, never spent a single day working on the project with us, and yet somehow recommended withholding our final payment.

That person is Scott Rogers, host of the “Around Town TV Show,” who identified himself to us as merely a consultant to 1st Co., a Delaware corporation whose president is Scott Rogers’ daughter, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office. Rogers is referenced in The Advocate as its “operations manager,” but the paper omitted his name in the June 19 front-page story.

Since a 1st Co. representative stated in your story that they “preferred to provide those services,” referring to the marketing and public relations services provided by our firm, it seems they had a clear financial motive in accusing Homeland Security Director JoAnne Moreau, and by extension Mayor Holden, of forcing them to work with our firm.

As often happens, people who feed stories to reporters end up boasting of their efforts, and for six months, we have heard about this looming story.

Our firm worked with the city-parish to develop a nationally recognized public education campaign for emergency preparedness, implementing a unique brand through a television show and public outreach. We are proud of the work we have done, and take great exception to the implications in the story.

We were involved in the production of every television program, considerable script writing and editing, selection of guests and postproduction quality reviews as well as all public outreach surrounding each month’s program and topic.

Your article leaves us with this question: A two-page story in the Sunday edition of The Advocate, a seven-year-old front-page photo, a false allegation by 1st Co., the failure to name Mr. Rogers — when did reporters go from covering news to actively participating in its creation?

Rannah Gray

president, Marmillion/Gray Media

Baton Rouge