Sunday, September 14, 2008

Q&A: Ford's Lawyer Continues to Imply Inquiry by Authorities

Ford, Buchanan, Corbett, Fisher

Pat Ford's attorney, Lawrence Fisher, has had nothing good to say about Council President Doug Shields.

That was apparent in these earlier comments, as well as in his latest, in which he dismisses as political grandstanding Shields' call for federal and state authorities to investigate claims of corruption by Fisher's own client, Ford.

Noteworthy, however, are Fisher's ongoing remarks implying that authorities are already investigating something related to city government -- and that Ford is continuing to cooperate with those authorities. Fisher also continues to offer reporters his own spontaneous observations about the secrecy surrounding grand juries, thus keeping the topic of investigations in the spotlight.

After disparaging Shields for calling on U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan and PA Attorney General Tom Corbett to conduct inquiries into Ford's allegations of corruption, Fisher uncorked this provocative comment:

"He's asking for something that likely is already ongoing".

Before Shields' letter on Friday eclipsed Thursday's news, I was preparing a Q&A post from Thursday's interview with Fisher. Here's an excerpt from that Q&A. I've used a larger text style for emphasis in certain passages.

Q (Bob Mayo): A week or so ago, we reported the fact that Pat Ford has made these assertions about the city and the Ravenstahl administration, and I remember you said specifically "he has the wherewithal to prove them". Now we have this settlement. Is this settlement to hush Pat Ford and make him go away?

A: I really couldn't say. And I'm not going to speculate about why the URA agreed to the settlement in question. But let me say this to you, Bob, and I think this is very important. Nothing about this settlement inhibits my client from continuing to actively cooperate with authorities on matters of mutual interest, nor could any such settlement so inhibit him.

So, you have an agreement whereby Mr. Ford will no longer reiterate the allegations in his letter of resignation, unless and until he is compelled to do so by a subpoena.

Q (Mayo): He, in other words, won't be talking to reporters about it. But you're saying if there is any authority interested in it, he would not be kept from talking to authorities?

A: No one can, by way of an agreement in the settlement of a contract dispute, bind someone from participating with and assisting authorities in matters of the public interest.

Q (Mayo): So, to clarify, in past conversations you were careful to keep things in the past tense -- (saying) that he had "cooperated" with authorities on matters of mutual interest. Is he currently "cooperating" -- currently, since your 'past tense' past comment? Or is there any indication that authorities will be making use of Pat Ford's knowledge in the future?

A: Mr. Ford continues to actively cooperate with authorities on matters of mutual interest.

Q (Rich Lord, PG) : ...In Pat Ford's resignation letter, he asked for payment through the end of this year. He's receiving payment now through the end of June of 2009. Can you say anything about any subsequent claims that you made that may have motivated the city to move the yardsticks or move the goal line on this?

A: Let me say that Mr. Ford is grateful for this generous severance package from the URA and he is pleased to put the matter behind him and move forward with his life. Beyond that, the non-disclosure provisions of the agreement prevent me from discussing in detail claims which were raised and which have been obviously treated with respect, in terms of this agreement.

Q (Lord) : What is Mr. Ford doing now?

A: He's moving on with his life. He is going into a private consulting business and, as I said, he will continue, however to actively cooperate with authorities on matters of the public interest.

Q (Lord) : Do you think he will continue to live in Pittsburgh?

A: I know for a fact that he will not. Mr. Ford has relocated out of state.

Q (Lord) : Are you able to say whether he's gone back to Florida, or to any of the other locales..?

A: He has not gone back to Florida. He has moved out of state.

Q (Mayo): Has he lined up a new job?

A: He will be engaged in a private consulting business.

Q (Mayo): You won't say what city or state he is in?

A: As much as I'd love to use this moment for free advertising on behalf of Mr. Ford, I don't think that's my role, nor do I believe that's proper for me to do that...



Bram Reichbaum said...

I read little to nothing into his "continues to actively cooperate" shift. My read is that that's as close as he can come to disparaging (i.e. spiting) the URA and his former employers without violating the terms of his settlement agreement.

Frankly, the URA was so generous on paper, who knows what other forms of "compensation" are being accorded to him informally -- and by whom. This may be a way to remind everybody in the community that he still holds some cards and merits continuing consideration.

Anonymous said...

pat ford has moved to west vigina.