Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) continues to shell out money from his federal campaign war chest for unspecified legal expenses, continuing a trend that began nearly two years ago.
A spokesman for Boyle previously indicated that the expenses were related to “active litigation” — language usually reserved for cases that have actually been filed in court. But a Broad + Liberty review of several jurisdictions has yet to locate a case involving the congressman or his campaign committee.
The most recent Federal Election Commission filings for Boyle’s campaign committee shows he paid $4,500 on three occasions to Philadelphia attorney R. Emmet Madden, totaling $13,500. That figure represents about 18% of the overall disbursements made by Boyle’s campaign during the last quarter of 2021.
Since October 2020, Boyle has paid $43,500 to Madden, who describes himself as “an experienced personal injury and criminal defense attorney” on his website.
Add in another $12,926 sent to Blank Rome in 2019, and Boyle has spent $56,000 on legal fees in the last four years — more than twice the spending in that category for any other Pennsylvania representative from the Delaware Valley.
FEC records show Rep. Madeleine Dean’s campaign spent $25,700 on legal fees over the same four-year period, and Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon spent about $22,400. For both Dean and Scanlon, most of those payments went to Perkins Coie, a well-known Washington D.C. law firm that specializes in political matters.
Searches of the campaign finance database at the FEC website showed no results at all — in other words, $0.00 in spending — on legal expenses for Reps. Dwight Evans, Susan Wild, Chrissy Houlahan, and Brian Fitzpatrick.
Across the river in New Jersey, Reps. Donald Norcross and Andy Kim both had $0 in legal expenses in the last four years. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, however, tallied nearly $45,000 in legal consulting fees, but like Dean and Scanlon, most of those fees were spent with Perkins Coie.
Emailed requests for comments to the Boyle campaign were not returned.
The campaign did give some insight into the matter previously.
From a December 2020 report in Delaware Valley Journal:
“Mr. Madden practices law in a variety of areas,” Scott Heppard with the [Boyle campaign] told Delaware Valley Journal. “For example, Mr. Madden previously (and successfully) represented Brendan Boyle’s state Representative campaign in court.”
“As for this specific recent expense, Mr. Madden is currently providing legal representation to Congressman Boyle on a matter that involves his campaign. It is not a criminal matter. As it involves active litigation, it would be inappropriate to offer further comment.”
DVJ asked the campaign to identify — without having to comment upon — the ‘active litigation’ by case number or to provide a document from case filings. They declined to respond.
(Editor’s note: In the above quoted section, the order of paragraphs two and three were swapped for clarity.)
At roughly the same time Brendan Boyle was beginning to make the payments to Madden, he was also using his campaign coffers to transfer money to the campaign accounts of his brother, State Rep. Kevin Boyle.
Spending campaign money on legal expenses is legal at the federal level and in Pennsylvania, provided the expenses are closely related enough to political matters.
In 2020 and 2021, Brendan transferred at least $75,000 to Kevin’s campaign committees, with Kevin using the bulk of that to defend himself in a defamation lawsuit brought by then-State Sen. John Sabatina.
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use his encrypted email at email@example.com. @shepherdreports