Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ford Case Puzzles

URA Executive Director Pat Ford's attorney Lawrence Fisher declined on Wednesday to show me the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission letter which he announced as exonerating his client. Rich Lord's story in this morning's PG breaks new ground by revealing this quote from that letter by ethics commission's Executive Director John Contino.

Mr. Contino wrote a letter to Mr. Fisher dated Tuesday saying that "only the commission ... may act upon the closing of a preliminary inquiry. To date, the commission has not acted upon the matter involving your client."

I've e-mailed attorney Fisher, asking him to provide me with a copy of the Ethics Commission letter he apparently shared with the Post-Gazette. It's possible that, elsewhere in the body of that letter, Contino explicitly says:

a) the 60 days provided by law for a preliminary review of Ford have past, and no evidence has been found to justify launching a full investigation...


b) there will be no formal investigation of Ford.

For now, we don't know. Is the passage quoted in the Post-Gazette the only one that addresses the status of Ford's case? It's not clear whether Fisher is simply deducing for now that Ford has been cleared as he awaits official notice.

Ethics Commission Executive Director Contino has not been returning the messages I've been leaving for him since Tuesday. (Contino is prohibited by law from discussing specific ethics cases. He sometimes does answer general questions about the law, policy, and procedures.)

The current situation begs the question of whether the passing of more than 60 days constitutes proof the Ford ethics case has been closed. If you enjoy logic puzzles, check out the Wikipedia discussion of "begging the question".


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