[UPDATED] Broward School Board Member Phyllis Hope Let Taxpayers Pick Up Her Legal Tab
During a year when state and federal investigators have been circling the Broward County School Board, it seems as though every member of that ethically challenged outfit would have reason to keep a personal attorney close by. But only one school board member had the nerve to give her legal bill to the taxpayers: Phyllis Hope.
UPDATE: I still haven't heard back from Hope, but Kasen returned a message I left yesterday. He confirmed that he was retained in connection with Hope's trip on the FBI yacht. "She was contacted some time late in 2009 in conjunction with the arrest and investigation of Beverly Gallagher," says Kasen. "She then reached out to me to represent her with any potential issues that came with that."
According to Kasen, Hope then said she would try to scrape up the money she needed for a retainer, which must have entailed a phone call to the school district attorney, Ed Marko, because he was the next person to call Kasen. Marko told Kasen that the school district would pay the legal fees in his representation of Hope. Kasen says that he doesn't usually charge by the hour for federal cases but that he was talked into making an exception and giving a discount in Hope's case, for which he charged $275 an hour.
Naturally, Hope was concerned that she was a target of the investigation. But Kasen says that he spoke with the investigators and an assistant U.S. attorney on Hope's behalf and found that they were more interested in learning what she could offer as a witness. "Since they never got back to us, my suspicion is that they decided she didn't have much information to give."
Kasen does not believe that Hope is under active criminal investigation.
I left a message this morning with school district attorney Marko to find out why Hope's legal expenses were paid while other School Board members' legal expenses were not. The School Board is meeting right now. I'll update when I hear back.
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