Just a couple of days ago, I was writing about the PA Turnpike Commission officials in trouble with the law . . . and then I receive a press release about a FBI investigation probe involving local attorney Jeffrey Rotwitt. Rotwitt hosted an April fundraiser for State Representative candidate Warren Kampf.
If I understand the story correctly, Rotwitt earned fees on both sides of a deal to build a new Family Court building in Center City. In late May, Rotwitt’s law firm, Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP fired him after Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille killed Rotwitt’s deal to develop a $200 million Family Court tower at 15th and Arch streets.
The Family Court project is still going to move forward but with the state serving as developer. There is no way of telling whether the state will recover any of the millions in fees already paid out to Rotwitt and his partner, Conshohocken developer Donald W. Pulver. Taking money from the state ($1.1 million) and also receiving $500K as developer of the project . . . what did Rotwitt miss the ‘conflict of interest’ course in law school? Rotwitt who was with Obermayer for 35 years, continues to suggest a ‘misunderstanding’ as the FBI investigates. (As an aside Rotwitt’s developer partner Donald Pulver either received or was in line to receive $6.2 million in fees and costs for the project from the state!)
I was aware of the FBI investigation of Rotwitt from reading the Inquirer but did a little research on Rotwitt’s employer, Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel. The Philadelphia-based firm has 125 lawyers and has been a big-money player on Pennsylvania’s political scene; last year contributing a total of $175,000 to statewide campaigns.
It wasn’t until I received the following press release that I made the connection between Jeffrey Rotwitt and Warren Kampf. Just prior to his firing from Obermayer in late May, Rotwitt hosted a $250/person campaign fundraiser for Kampf in his home. As he follows the FBI investigation of Rotwitt, I’m guessing that Kampf may want to distance himself from his friend and the FBI probe . . . probably returning the dollars raised at that April fundraiser might not be a bad idea. What’s that saying about ‘judging people by the company they keep’?
In case you are interested, here is the press release that is being circulated from State Rep Paul Drucker in regards to this matter:
Rep. Paul Drucker Calls on Opponent to Return Money Raised by Fundraiser under Federal Investigation
Kampf received thousands raised by Jeffrey Rotwitt, currently under investigation by the FBI for role In Philadelphia’s scandal-plagued
Family Court project
PAOLI, Pa. – State Rep. Paul Drucker today called on his opponent Warren Kampf to return money raised for him by Jeffrey Rotwitt, an attorney who is currently under investigation by the FBI for his central role in the scandal-plagued Philadelphia Family Court development. Kampf held an April fundraiser at Rotwitt’s home that raised thousands of dollars for his campaign.
“Warren Kampf can’t call himself a reformer if he tries to ignore the fact that one of his chief fundraisers is under federal investigation for his role in the Family Court fiasco,” said Drucker today. “We need to change the way business is done in Pennsylvania, and if Kampf is serious about running an honest campaign, he should return the money Rotwitt raised for him immediately.”
A Philadelphia Inquirer investigation revealed that Rotwitt, who was a paid advisor to the courts for the project, was also working as a partner in the development itself – getting paid by both sides without fully disclosing his dual role. Rotwitt was fired from his law firm when his dual role became public. The scheme has cost taxpayers millions and is being investigated by the FBI.
“While I work toward real solutions, my opponent is working with people who epitomize our broken system of government,” Drucker said. “This is not the kind of reform Harrisburg needs.”