Philadelphia taxpayers are paying Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s legal bills while he is under federal investigation, the city’s Law Department said Thursday.
The city has hired Patrick J. Egan of the Fox Rothschild firm, at the city’s standard rate of up to $225 per hour, to assist Johnson, a Democrat who represents Southwest Philadelphia and much of South Philadelphia, said Andrew Richman, chief of staff to City Solicitor Marcel Pratt. If Johnson is indicted, the city will no longer pay Egan.
WHYY first reported that the city was paying for Johnson’s legal representation.
Sources familiar with the FBI investigation have described over the last two years a wide-ranging probe into Johnson’s dealings, including his handling of city-owned land sales in his district, his wife’s work as an education and political consultant, and their connection to Universal Cos., a charter-school operator launched by Philadelphia music producer Kenny Gamble.
The FBI in 2017 raided the company’s headquarters. In May, two of the company’s executives were implicated in a bribery scandal involving the Milwaukee public schools.
Johnson on Thursday declined to comment on the investigation. Egan confirmed that the city hired him to represent 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,” Egan said in a statement. "We are confident that when all information related to the investigation comes to light the councilman will be vindicated.”
Staff writers Chris Brennan, William Bender, and Jeremy Roebuck contributed to this article.