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February 06, 2008

Port of Seattle Hires Legal Firepower -- at Our Expense

While everybody and his brother is busy picking apart the meaning of the Super Tuesday races, I found this news from the P.I.'s Kristin Millares Young to be worthy of our attention: The Port of Seattle has hired a pricey team of lawyers to defend it against the federal investigation into corruption uncovered by state auditor Brian Sonntag. And you know who's paying for it. I guess the $97 million of our tax money that Port staff already squandered on under-the-table, no-bid contracts didn't satisfy their penchant for misusing public funds.

The lawyers are Arthur Harrigan Jr. and Timothy Leyh of Danielson, Harrigan, Leyh & Tollefson for $526 and $400 per hour, respectively, and an as-yet unspecified lawyer from Yarmuth Wilsdon Calfo.

"Is this the best use of taxpayer dollars?" Sonntag asked, noting that the port staff has been picking apart the audit's findings since late summer.

"The Department of Justice is using the audit report merely as a launching point to delve deeper into certain types of activities," Sonntag said. "They are certainly not going to use the audit report to bring criminal charges -- they are going to go deeper -- so I don't know what the benefit would be, other than to obfuscate and defend."

According to the article, Port commissioner Gayle Tarleton applauds the hiring of the high-priced lawyers.

Plus ca change, and all that...

Posted by shoephone on February 6, 2008 at 01:20 AM in Policy, Washington Culture | Permalink


An interesting side note here comes from the Dickie Scruggs saga. The Mississippi legislature has found it necessary to limit how much Scrugg's friend, MS AG Jim Hood, to hire outside legal counsel:


It's a crazy world when the AG has to hire outside counsel, isn't it?

Hopefully, a lawyer familiar with contract law or inter-government relations can shed some light on why the Port needs outside counsel. Can DoJ throw the Port in jail? The only point I see is avoiding some sort of suit of the Port by DoJ.

Posted by: Cujo359 | Feb 6, 2008 9:41:01 PM

That's the burning question, Cujo. And I think what Sonntag was alluding to is the Port's fears that Sullivan's investigation is going to lead much deeper. Say, deeper than Dinsmore. Who else on his staff (or even the commission) might be implicated? After all, why be nervous about an audit report that was published last summer?

Posted by: shoephone | Feb 8, 2008 12:11:56 AM

I followed a link to this blog from Ron Sims' home page. I'm not sure how you're connected to him, perhaps only in that you wrote a positive item about him. But I wonder if you know what would be the most appropriate way to contact him to ask why he, as a super-delegate, has declared support for Hillary? Now that the wishes of the Democratic voters in Washington are clear, and overwhelmingly in favor of Obama, I'm hoping he'll reconsider and align his support with the wishe