Skip to comments.Rendell, His Political Friends—And More State Contracts
Posted on 12/05/2008 8:19:24 AM PST by grace522
Rendell, His Political FriendsAnd More State Contracts By Chris Freind, The Bulletin 12/05/2008
Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa., has come under increased fire as more information comes to light regarding his relationships with campaign donors.
Awarding contributors with lucrative state contracts is nothing new in Pennsylvania, but the frequency, large-dollar amounts and the number of secretive no-bid contracts awarded to political friends are perceived by many to have crossed the ethical line. As a result, numerous bills aimed at reforming how state contracts are awarded will be re-introduced in January when the new legislature convenes.
When questioned on how his friendships and political connections affect the doling out of taxpayer money, the governor has repeatedly stated that they have no bearing in his decision-making. However, an analysis of the Rendell money trail makes such denials suspect. Several examples:
Boscovs Inc., which operates numerous department stores in the Mid-Atlantic region, including Pennsylvania, filed for bankruptcy protection in August. Not wanting to see the family company go out of business, Albert Boscov sought financial assistance to restructure the organization.
He found that support in the form of $35 million in taxpayer money, courtesy of Gov. Rendells political maneuvering. The governor was quoted as saying that the aid was based on [Mr. Boscov's] reputation as a successful businessman.
Many around the state were left wondering if Mr. Boscovs $139,000 in campaign contributions to Mr. Rendell played any role in the awarding of aid. Other Boscov family members gave an additional $25,000 to Rendell. Questions posed to the governor regarding this connection were repeatedly dismissed.
No Qualified PA Lawyers?
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit in 2007 against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson. Gov. Rendells Office of General Counsel (OGC) chose the legal firms to represent the state. Instead of selecting counsel via a competitive bidding process, the administration chose to award secretive, no-bid contracts. The lead counsel selected was the Houston-based Bailey Perrin Bailey (BPB) plaintiff firm, and Pennsylvania co-counsel was Cohen, Placitella and Roth (CPR) from Philadelphia. Stewart Cohen, one of the firms lead partners, contributed $12,000 to Gov. Rendell.
The choice of an out-of-state firm has placed the governor in a potentially embarrassing position. Each time he is questioned about no-bid state contracts being awarded to friends and political contributors, the answer has consistently been that campaign donations play no role whatsoever in the selection process.
Rather, such firms are chosen because of their expertise in a particular field. The Bulletin called the governors office to inquire if this meant that there were no qualified law firms in the entire state to handle a legal claim of deceptive marketing practices. The calls went unreturned.
In addition to donations totaling $75,000 to Mr. Rendells campaign in 2006 - a time during which the law firm was negotiating its state contract - Mr. Bailey also contributed over $16,000 worth of airfare to the governors effort. Prior to founding BPB several years ago, Mr. Baileys former firm, in which he was also a founding partner, contributed $25,000 to Gov. Rendells first gubernatorial campaign. Bailey also donated $25,000 to the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), an organization which has contributed over $1.3 million to Mr. Rendell.
Ken Jarin, Rendell confidante and partner at Ballard Spahr, the governors former firm, is the treasurer of the DGA. Jarin is a major fundraiser for the governor, and has contributed $90,000 to the Rendell campaigns. He is married to Robin Wiessmann, the Pennsylvania Treasurer who was appointed by the governor in 2007. Ballard has received millions of dollars from the state through no-bid contracts.
For a recap of Gov. Rendells conflicts of interest with his former law firm, Ballard Spahr, and the Delaware River Port Authority, of which is he Chairman, please see The Bulletins exposes from Nov. 14 and Nov. 21:
Ed Rendell and Ballard Spahr: Attached At The Wallet
Re-Cap of Gov. Rendells Conflicts of Interest
Chris Freind can be reached at CF@TheBulletin.us
Why do the people of PA allow no bid contracts?????
Why do the citizens of PA allow state liquor stores, buying 6-packs only at bars and only cases at distributors, and stupid state vehicle inspection laws ?
This state is run by the unions and the lawyers.
Is it easy to find a doctor in PA? I keep reading that they have a net loss to the state of the med student grads.
I’ve never had a problem but then I live in a suburb around Philly. It can be hard to see some specialists in under a month if it’s not a life-threatening situation, but then I think that’s OK.
Boscovs Inc., which operates numerous department stores in the Mid-Atlantic region, including Pennsylvania, filed for bankruptcy protection in August.
Not to mention the big Boscov's in Murtha's district. Coincidence? Not.
Allow? LOL, most complain about it regularly, and then more than enough vote the party line, just like their bosses told them to. You said it, run by unions and lawyers, and Philly ones at that, who care little about how the rest of the state lives.