Wednesday, September 29, 2010

House Democratic Caucus Has Legal Appetite

Treasury Secretary Jack McCord has a link on his website for the public to search contracts made by Commonwealth Agencies. SOP performed a search of contracts made by the House Democratic Caucus. Since 2008 there are 12 legal firms who have been hired in a total of 27 contracts and amendments. The total cost to the taxpayers was $1,183,180.00.

There are several interesting contracts that SOP found in its research.

Christopher Casey was hired by Todd Eachus to serve as outside counsel to him according to this report by Robert Swift of the Times-Tribune in December, 2008. Chris Casey, the brother of U.S. Senator Robert Casey, is a partner at Dilworth Paxson LLP.

Christopher Casey is a partner in the Litigation, Corporate Investigations/White Collar, and Media Law Practice Groups. He represents companies, governmental entities and individuals in a broad range of counseling and litigation matters, involving such areas as antitrust, securities, contracts, property disputes, fraud, and political corruption.

These contracts were let out by the House Democratic Caucus with Dilworth Paxson, LLP. Contract Number HDC01021009 had a term of December 01, 2008 to January 16, 2009 not to exceed $100,000.00. Another contract, Number HDC02021009 was approved for Dilworth Paxson, LLP with a term from January 15, 2009 to March 02, 2009 not to exceed $50,000.00. Contract Number 4HDC05031009 termed from March 03, 2009 to June 30,2009 not to exceed $150,000.00 for Dilworth Paxson, LLP. There were two amendments to that contract. The first amendment, HDC02072209 went from July 01.2009 to December 31, 2009 not to exceed $150,000.00. The second amendment, HDC01121009, was for another $50,000 limit extending from December 03, 2009 to December 31, 2010.

Patrick Casey of Scranton is a partner is the legal firm Myeres, Brier, and Kelly. Attorney Casey represents Louis Pagnotti III. Questions on whether his client cooperated in the federal probe looking into corruption at the Luzerne County Courthouse were met with a "No Comment" according to this Legal Intelligencer article appearing on from June, 2009.

Pat Casey has served as lead counsel in federal jury trials involving charges of bank fraud; ERISA fraud; wire fraud; mail fraud; check fraud; credit card fraud; tax evasion; counterfeit; obstruction of justice; and other monetary crimes.

Myers, Brier, and Kelly were the recipients of contracts let out by the House Democratic Caucus of Pennsylvania as well. Contract number HDC02031909 had a term of December 01, 2008 to June 30, 2009 in an amount not to exceed $50,000.00. An amendment to the original contract extended the term from December 01, 2009 to December 31, 2010 in the same amount of $50,000.00.

It peaks the curiosity that the House Democratic Caucus in Harrisburg would hire a firm in Scranton. As previously reported the HDC also hired the firm of Sprague and Sprague from Philadelphia who represented Robert Powell in the Luzerne County Courthouse corruption probe. The total amount not to exceed in that contract was $100,000.00. It commenced on November 03, 2008 with no end date. The HDC was to inform the firm when it no longer needed its services.

Since all contracts are confidential as to the nature of the scope of work we can only surmise from the areas of practice of the lawyers hired as to the nature of the need for engagement.

On February 10, 2009 Eachus announced the appointment of Attorney Laura Kuller as his chief of staff at salary of $161,000 and Attorney Nora Winkelman as his chief counsel at a salary of $149,900 according to John Micek's March, 2009 column over at Capital Ideas . He must have this need to be surrounded by high priced attorneys.

Mr. Eachus should explain to the public as to the nature of these contracts. Of course he has yet to answer questions about Bonusgate so I wouldn't hold my breath he would be forthcoming anytime soon.

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