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Firm With Political Ties in Line for CA Rail Pact

— California's high-speed rail authority has delayed a decision about whether to award a $9 million contract to a public relations firm that has political ties to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Board members say they are concerned because the firm was chosen by a selection committee composed of three authority employees, two of whom previously worked in the administration. The Sacramento-based firm itself - Mercury Public Affairs - includes two former Schwarzenegger strategists.

Steve Schmidt managed Schwarzenegger's 2006 re-election campaign, and Adam Mendelsohn was the governor's communications director.

The nine-member board delayed a vote Thursday after some members sought a review of the selection committee's ties to the Republican political consultants.

Mercury was one of nine firms that bid for the contract. Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said he had no immediate comment.

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