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Rahm Donor Hired To Review The City's Law Department

By aaroncynic in News on Jan 11, 2016 5:35PM

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
The city’s Law Department announced Sunday that former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb would lead the review of the department, which will examine the standards and practices of the Federal Civil Rights Litigation division.

The announcement comes after Mayor Rahm Emanuel reversed course on the need for a look into the Law Department in the wake of revelations that one of its top attorneys concealed evidence in a lawsuit involving the killing of Darius Pinex by Chicago Police. On Thursday last week, Emanuel said that a third party review of the department was “essential for people’s confidence.”

“He has impeccable integrity and reputation, and is experienced in conducting investigations and internal reviews,” said Corporation Counsel Steve Patton in a statement, Crain’s reports.

Webb, who is co-chairman of the well-connected law firm Winston and Strawn, told the Tribune that in addition to his review of the department, he would refer cases of potential misconduct to Inspector General Joseph Ferguson. “I can go in and they have to provide me with any and all information … to kind of tear apart their practices and procedure,” said Webb.

Both Webb and Winston & Strawn have strong ties to city politics, and to Rahm Emanuel. The firm represented Chicago Parking Meters LLC in a lawsuit that challenged the much-reviled parking meter deal, and both the firm and Webb himself donated plenty of money to Rahm Emanuel's campaigns. Records from the Illinois State Board of Elections show that Winston & Strawn has given the mayor $114,000, while Webb himself has cut checks amounting to $10,000. Additionally, Webb has given $3,000 to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Laurie Levenson, a legal ethics professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, told Crain’s that “eyebrows will be raised,” since Patton chose the person who would investigate his own department, but that there would be extra scrutiny of the investigation:

“In the best of all worlds, you would want someone else to make the selection to make it as objective as possible, but sometimes practically that can't happen. So it's going to put an extra burden on this firm. They're going to be under the microscope.”

Webb, though, said there was no attorney-client privilege between him and the city.

“If I'm going to be independent, I need to be independent, and not be burdened by a lawyer-client relationship,” said Webb. Patton also stated his confidence in Webb, telling the Tribune “He's not going to sully his reputation by not doing a good and thorough job, and I don't want him to."

Webb will be giving the city a “discount,” charging just $295 an hour, as opposed to his normal rate of $1,335 an hour.