Johnson tight-lipped on investigation and taxpayer-funded legal help

Pat Loeb
September 19, 2019 - 1:47 pm
Kenyatta Johnson

Photo credit: Pat Loeb

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson is under investigation, and the city has hired outside legal help, at taxpayers' expense, to help him.

The city solicitor's office says Fox Rothschild has been hired to provide Johnson with legal services at the standard rate, which is not to exceed $225 dollars an hour.

Fox Rothschild released the following statement:

"We have been retained by the city to represent Councilman Johnson in connection with an investigation being conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. We have reviewed the evidence related to that investigation and are confident that the Councilman has done nothing improper, much less illegal. We are confident that when all information related to the investigation comes to light the Councilman will be vindicated.”

Johnson, himself, would not provide any details.

"I currently don't have any comment at this current time," he said. 

As far back as 2016, there have been reports that the FBI is investigating land deals in Johnson's district. The councilman has steered several city-owned properties to a childhood friend at under market value. Developer Ori Feibush has sued Johnson in federal court, asserting he blocked land sales to Feibush in order to steer them to campaign donors. 

The cases have prompted calls for reform of the city's land sale system, including from Johnson himself, who has said everything he did in those cases was allowed by the system.

Asked if taxpayers have the right to know what they are paying for, Johnson reiterated, "I have no comment at this current time."

The home rule charter requires the city to provide legal counsel to elected officials and employees concerning matters arising in connection with the performance of their official duties.