Governor Ed Rendell making large 'no-contract' work agreements with supporters, Democrats in State House prevent law to stop actions
Ballard's $773,000 'No-Contract' Work
Rendell’s Former Firm Went Beyond ‘No-Bid’ Contracts
By Chris Freind, The Bulletin
Published: Friday, January 09, 2009
Gov. Ed Rendell,D-Pa., has recently come under fire as more information emerges regarding the frequency and high-dollar amounts of no-bid state contracts that have been distributed to his political donors and friends. The details of such contracts have been previously revealed by The Bulletin.
Many eyebrows have been raised on these lucrative no-bid contracts, especially since the records from past administrations were “lost” under Mr. Rendell’s tenure — ostensibly the only way to compare the frequency, amounts and recipients of these types of contracts.
The state Senate passed a reform bill 50-0 last session amending how contracts are awarded, but it was stifled in the Democratic-controlled House. The legislation, sponsored by Republican Majority Whip Jane Orie, R-40th of Allegheny, will be re-introduced early this term.
While conflicts of interest abound, the awarding of no-bid contracts to political donors is not illegal, so long as no pay to play arrangement exists.
But in 2007, the ethical line was taken to a whole new level when Ballard performed $773,000 of state legal work without a state contract, leaving many questions unanswered.
On March 1 of that year, the firm began work on the proposal to privatize the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Over the next 83 days, Ballard utilized 55 attorneys (more than 10 percent of its legal staff), and billed the state for 2,300 hours, which equates to an average of 27.38 hours per 24 hour day. The hourly rates varied based on seniority, with firm Chairman Arthur Makadon billing $637.50/hour, and partners Ken Jarin and Adrian King Jr. billing $531.25/hour and $403.75/hour, respectively.
Mr. Makadon, a close friend to the governor, has contributed $87,500 to his campaigns. Mr. Jarin is listed as the “relationship partner” on the $773,000 project. He is a longtime confidante and fundraiser to Mr. Rendell, having contributed $90,000 to the governor’s coffers. He also serves as treasurer to the Democratic Governor’s Association, an entity that has contributed over $1.5 million to Rendell. Mr. Jarin is married to Robin Wiessmann, who had served as state treasurer until this week. Her office approved and issued payments for the Ballard invoices. Adrian King, Jr., served as the governor’s deputy Chief of Staff and in a Cabinet position prior to rejoining Ballard as a partner. . . . .
For a discussion on Rendell's relationship with this law firm see here:
In 1999, after serving eight years as Mayor of Philadelphia, Ed Rendell joined the Ballard Spahr law firm, headquartered in Center City. Two years later, during his campaign for Governor, Rendell stated, "I have, for the last two years, done practically nothing for [Ballard]," according to numerous press reports.
Upon assuming office, he appointed himself Chairman of the Delaware River Port Authority, the entity overseeing the four major bridges in Philadelphia. One of the major beneficiaries of Mr. Rendell being DRPA Chairman has been his former firm. In the three years preceding Rendell's election, Ballard received $25,000 in legal fees from the Port Authority, including only $480 in 2001. From 2002 until the present, Ballard has received over $2.7 million. . . .[the link has a much longer discussion]
Note that back in 2003, even the Philadelphia Inquirer raised this issue:
Now, some are raising the question: Are the paychecks given with the expectation that Gov. Rendell would steer lucrative state business to the firm -- Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll? . . .