October 30, 2013

Bishop Legal Costs Soar

Embattled Congressman Tim Bishop, the subject of an FBI investigation and a pending investigation of the House Committee On Ethics, has been spending a lot of money on legal fees.

As of August Bishop spent a total of $80,000 of campaign funds on lawyers, including $20,000 to Dechert LLP on July 20 and $20,000 to Perkins Coie on August 20, according to Newsday's Tom Brune.

Dechert LLP, a huge firm with offices all over the world, specializes in financial matters; Perkins Coie is counsel of record for the Democratic National Committee, and its clients include nearly all Democratic members of the United States Congress.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, after a three-month investigation, concluded "a substantial reason to believe that a violation of House rules, standards of conduct and federal law occurred." The OCE forwarded its findings to the House Committee on Ethics.

Bishop stands accused of trying to fast track a permit for a fireworks event at a Sagaponack oceanfront home of a constituent, Eric Semler, in exchange for a campaign contribution, which, if true, is an illegal quid-pro-quo.

Perkins Coie urged that House committee to end the probe. "OCE's written findings are deeply flawed and provide no basis for further review. But the testimony and documents provide the Committee with all of the information it needs to close this matter. . . . Representative Bishop respectfully requests the Committee to dismiss OCE's referral and take no further action," wrote Brian G. Svoboda, an attorney with the firm. Instead, the House Committee has extended the probe.

The Independent broke the story that the FBI, perhaps in conjunction with the Justice Department, is also investigating Bishop about the same matter. In fact, FBI agents were in Southampton last spring asking questions about the fireworks event.

Bishop has steadfastly refused to comment about the matter other than to state repeatedly that he "welcomes an impartial investigation." At one point, though, he refused to answer questions posed by OCE investigators about a $5000 contribution made by Semler.

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