Council asks mayor to appear at hearing to explain legal expenses

By Josh Resnek

It is the big question hovering about the mayor’s daily activities that won’t go away.

Why is he continuing to pay criminal attorneys to represent him?

This question was raised at Monday evening’s council meeting, again.

The mayor had been asked to appear by Councilors Mike Marchese and Mike McLaughlin to answer about the need for criminal attorneys.

However, the mayor did not appear to explain himself.

“My colleagues, all of us need to know. What are the payments to attorneys for being paid from the mayor’s campaign account,” Councilor Marchese asked his colleagues.

“Are they for personal issues not allowed by the law? If this is the case, then he needs to tell us what it is, please,” he added.

Marchese suggested ordering the mayor to appear at a full committee hearing on the first Monday in March.

The motion passed unanimously by a voice vote.

“Is he involved in an ongoing FBI investigation? Is he an informant for the FBI? Why is he spending so much money for criminal attorneys?” Marchese asked.

“My colleagues, every one of us should know what these criminal attorney payments are for.”

The mayor has spent more than $200,000 and is continuing to pay for criminal attorney representation with the international law firm Greenberg Traurig.

He has made and is continuing to make monthly payments from his campaign account.

Those payments are labelled, “legal.”

“What is legal? What does this mean? The mayor should tell us,” Marchese said.

The Office for Campaigns and Political Finance would neither confirm nor deny that a review of the mayor’s campaign finance records is being conducted to determine what exactly the term “legal” means.

According to OCPF officials, only those expenses related to the mayor’s conduct as mayor, and pertaining to them, can be used to pay for criminal attorneys.

If he is under investigation with regard to his duties as mayor, checks for legal representation can be cut from his campaign account.

He cannot, however, use campaign funds to pay for personal matters like paying for a property, paying for a legal settlement concerning sexual harassment charges or to pay for personal judgments settled against him.

The mayor has steadfastly refused to indicate what the legal payments are for, something the OCPF is duty bound to investigate.

“If he has nothing to hide or to worry about, we have nothing to hide or to worry about as the city’s leaders,” Marchese said.

“The residents of this city we represent deserve to know if the mayor is within the law spending so much of his campaign funds for criminal attorneys,” he concluded.

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