A Recap of Rendell’s Ballard Spahr Connections

Member Group : Freindly Fire

* Ballard attorneys have contributed nearly a half-million dollars to Gov. Rendell’s campaigns. The Ballard firm, a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), contributed another $481,000.

* The Philadelphia Future Political Action Committee (PAC), registered at the Ballard Spahr offices, contributed $471,000 to Mr. Rendell. The PAC’s Treasurer is David Cohen, former Chief of Staff under then-Mayor Rendell, former Chairman of Ballard Spahr, and currently Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation. Mr. Cohen contributed $80,000 to the governor. Mr. Cohen’s wife Rhonda donated $156,000 to Mr. Rendell.

* The address on Gov. Rendell’s campaign finance reports is the 51st floor of 1735 Market Street in Philadelphia. Ballard Spahr occupies the entire floor.

* Upon assuming the governor’s office in 2002, Ed Rendell appointed himself Chairman of the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA). One of the major beneficiaries of Mr. Rendell being DRPA Chairman has been his former firm, Ballard Spahr. In the three years preceding Rendell’s election, Ballard received $25,000 in legal fees from the Port Authority, including only $480 in 2001. From 2002 until the present, Ballard has received over $2.7 million.

* Two of the governor’s former top aides, John Estey, his former chief of staff, and Adrian King, Jr., his former deputy chief of staff, are currently partners at Ballard, and both hold influential positions related to DRPA. Mr. Estey chairs the board meetings and maintains full voting rights on behalf of the governor, and Mr. King serves as the Authority’s Outside Counsel. Mr. Estey and Mr. King are brothers-in-law, and together have contributed over $35,000 to Mr. Rendell’s political coffers.

* Outgoing Pennsylvania Treasurer Robin Wiessmann, a Rendell appointee, sat on the DRPA Board. Her husband, Ken Jarin, also a partner at Ballard, serves as DRPA Outside Counsel and occasionally chairs board meetings. He contributed $90,000 to the governor’s campaigns. When Ms. Wiessmann accepted and received Ballard’s legal bills to DRPA, it amounted to money going into her husband’s, and ultimately her own, pocket.

* Mr. Estey also serves as chairman of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA), a state agency. On June 18, 2008, the PRPA Board selected Ballard Spahr as its outside counsel.

* Ballard received a $1.8 million no-bid contract for work on the Pennsylvania Turnpike privatization project. They also performed $773,000 worth of work on the turnpike issue without a contract.

* GTECH, a Rhode Island company specializing in casino-related operations, hired Ballard partner Ken Jarin for assistance in contract negotiations while it was attempting to win a contract with the state.

GTECH received a five-year contract worth millions per year. Additionally, GTECH was awarded a five-year contract earlier this year related to the Pennsylvania Lottery, potentially worth $25 million/year. GTECH has a "checkered history," according to a former state senate leader, based on serious corruption issues that have plagued the company in South America, Europe and the United States.

Chris Freind can be reached at [email protected]