Councilman Dennis Zine is dating a lobbyist for a firm that is protesting a $271 million contract before the City Council.

In an interview, Veronica Becerra confirmed that she is working for Tutor-Perini, which is seeking to build a new utility plant at Los Angeles International Airport. She also confirmed that she is going out with Zine.

“We date,” she said. “It's a dating situation. It's not like we're living together… It's a well-known fact that Dennis Zine dates quite a few young ladies in downtown Los Angeles. It's not like it's an exclusive relationship.”

The allegation was first reported in the Daily Breeze, which cited “several City Hall sources” who claimed that Becerra was Zine's girlfriend.

Tutor-Perini is protesting the award of a $271 million contract to Clark-McCarthy.

At a council hearing on Friday, Zine asked airport officials why Tutor-Perini wasn't awarded the contract, since Tutor's bid was $30 million lower than the winning bid.

“The issue that came to my attention was cost … and I've been informed that there was another bidder who was $30 million less than Clark on this particular project,” Zine said. “How is it we have this $30 million difference between the two bidders?”

The answer, according to airport officials, is that the Tutor-Perini proposal didn't comply with the temperature ranges specified by the airport, so the bid was tossed out.

Becerra said that she didn't have to bring up the issue with Zine, because Ron Tutor had called Zine personally.

“Councilman Zine thinks for himself,” she said.

Regarding the contract, Becerra said that “there is a problem with the procurement process.”

She declined to go into too many details, saying the “truth will be revealed” at a Jan. 4 council hearing on the matter.

Zine's office has not yet returned a call seeking comment.

Update, 2:23 p.m.: Zine's office responds with the following statement.

“I work very hard to ensure that taxpayer money is spent efficiently and not wasted. The airport item in council Friday called for the approval of a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars. I agreed with a majority of the members of the city council that there were still outstanding questions that needed to be answered before we could move forward with final approval. I look forward to a thorough vetting of these outstanding issues when the council reconvenes so that we can make a final decision on this contract based on all of the information that is available to us.”

LA Weekly