Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pat Ford Ethics Review & Paid Leave Update 2

Pat Ford & Lawrence Fisher

Here's an update on the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission's review of URA Executive Director Pat Ford. Since April 9th, Ford has on paid leave pending the commission's look into gifts that he and his wife, former mayor's Press Secretary Alecia Sirk, received from Lamar Advertising executive Jim Vlasach.

Ford's attorney Lawrence Fisher tells me:

"It remains Pat Ford's fervent intention to return to his responsibilities as URA director as soon as his good name is restored by the State Ethics Commission."

Fisher says he was advised via phone by the Ethics Commission's Executive Director John Contino that the preliminary inquiry of Ford began around May 19th. That would be about 40 days after Ford himself and the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority requested the review.

As I reported on May 2nd, before any formal investigations, by law the state ethics commission first opens a preliminary inquiry, which can take up to sixty days. I'm told that it normally does take that long. At that point, the ethics commission's executive director makes a determination whether to move forward with a full investigation.

The Post-Gazette reported (in the body of an unrelated June 9th article) that "Mr. Fisher said the commission is expected to dismiss the matter or launch a full investigation by July 18".

That would be sixty days after may 19th, and is consistent with the timeline I've reported.

Attorney Fisher told me last week that he and Ford had gotten no request from the ethics commission for any interview, "nor any written questions requiring any response".


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