Waiting for Webb

WSJ reports huge legal bills piling up for governor

When it was revealed in the wake of Rod Blagojevich's arrest this week that his lawyer was Sheldon Sorosky, the collective response among those who pay attention to such things was: Who?

Even the ABA Journal called Sorosky "little-known" in its attempt to answer that question.

Besides, when you're someone as powerful as a governor in Illinois and you land in legal hot water, you usually call in Dan Webb.

"One of the country's most prominent litigators, Webb has carved out a niche for himself in recent years defending politicians in legal trouble," Brian Baxter of The American Lawyer writes in a story called "Illinois Governor Arrested, Dan Webb Watch Begins."

"We called Webb this morning," Baxter wrote, "but he was in a meeting and has not yet responded to a request for comment. (Apparently we weren't the only ones that had him on speed dial as his secretary asked us if 'this was about the governor.)"

It's not as if Webb is on a big winning streak, however, He couldn't keep either former Illinois Gov. George Ryan or former Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick out of jail.

Webb is also already representing indicted power-broker Bill Cellini in the federal pay-to-play investigation, which could pose a problem - especially if Cellini decides to roll over on the governor.

Blagojevich is also still believed to owe Webb's firm, Winston & Strawn, a bundle. Winston & Strawn represented Ryan for free - that courtesy isn't likely to be extended to Blagojevich.

With money tight, maybe Blagojevich will just represent himself. After all, he earned a law degree from Pepperdine University and worked as a Cook County prosecutor under Mayor Richard M. Daley when Daley was the state's attorney. Maybe Blagojevich is just crazy enough to do it. 

Legal Bills Already Sky-High

Rod Blagojevich owes more than $500,000 to the law firm Winston & Strawn, his primary counsel since federal investigators began looking into various allegations of corruption five years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. 

It's not clear whether the legal bills are for personal or campaign work, or for both.

The federal complaint against the governor repeatedly refers to his family's financial troubles and campaign filings show Winston & Strawn had charged the governor's campaign fund, Friends of Blagojevich, nearly $2 million in legal fees through the end of 2007.

Earlier this year, Blagojevich, strapped for cash and burdened by a years-long federal investigation into his administration, stopped paying a portion of the millions in fees owed to Winston & Strawn, according to people familiar with the matter.  As a result, Winston & Strawn stopped representing the governor, who is now embroiled in one of the most spectacular public-corruption inquiries in years.

In the criminal complaint filed this week, federal prosecutors charged Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

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