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Over $27K in fees before onset of ethics review raises questions about BlankRome’s independence

Lawyers proposed independent $625/hour review AFTER approving a press release exonerating Township manager and describing allegations as "irresponsible"

Our detailed review of $127K charged by BlankRome to the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors (KT-BoS) for a review of the ethics complaint against Township manager Eden Ratliff revealed $27K of work before the “independent” investigation even started. Why is this a problem? Much of the credibility of the review rested on the assumption that BlankRome brought a fresh, unbiased perspective on the concerns captured in the ethics complaint filed against Ratliff by Township resident Peter Doehring. We have concluded that BlankRome's had a conflict of interest when they proposed an "independent" ethics review, because their earlier involvement suggested that they were far from unbiased, and that such a review would lead only to one conclusion: that Ratliff had broken no laws.

What is the evidence? Right to Know (RTK) requests filed by OpenKennett revealed that BlankRome had in fact participated in reviewing the special press release authored by Supervisors Richard Leff and Whitney Hoffman on December 20. While BlankRome lawyers had denied any such involvement when initially questioned by residents, emails uncovered through RTK requests confirmed BlankRome's role. We believe that BlankRome, in reviewing the press release, had an obligation to indicate any concerns about whether the press release was in fact truthful. We therefore consider the review to also imply some level of approval.

BlankRome’s role in reviewing and likely approving the special press release is especially problematic given other concerns described elsewhere

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