CHICAGO (CBS)–As city leaders scrambled to react to the outrage that enveloped Chicago three years ago in the wake of the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video and the city’s subsequent coverup, city officials shelled out millions of dollars for lawyers and consultants to help mitigate one of the biggest PR crises in the city’s history.
During the tumultuous months that followed the November 2015 release of the video, the city spent more than $9 million on legal and and consulting fees for how to address the fallout after the public found out the city knew about the severity of the shooting but kept quiet, records show.
That’s on top of the $5 million settlement the city paid to McDonald’s family earlier that year.
Despite having nearly 500 attorneys and staffers on the city payroll, Chicago officials paid 13 law firms and consultants–including figures with ties to city hall–some with political connections.
Chicago-based Taft Law had the largest tab for legal fees at $4.44 million. Records show the city retained the firm to gather and turn over thousands of pages of police records.
The second-largest amount–$2.67 million–was paid to Washington, D.C.-based crisis management consulting firm WilmerHale.
The city’s regular hourly billing rate for outside legal counsel is $295, but WilmerHale attorneys received a whopping $1,200 per hour.
A spokesperson for the city’s law department defended the extra spending by pointing to WilmerHale’s “unusual expertise” in police reform matters.
The city’s decision to hire WilmerHale as a consultant came about two years before the firm’s former partner, Edward Siskel, was appointed as Chicago’s Corporation Counsel, in February 2017.
The highest-paid consultant on the list is Bromwich Group, which billed the city nearly $2.9 million. Former Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Bromwich is the firm’s founder who also served as a court-appointed monitor for the Baltimore Police Department.
The names of two prominent former Chicago Police officers also appear on the list–former Deputy Superintendent Charles Ramsay was paid nearly $37,500 and former Illinois State Police director Terry Gainer billed the city $4,250.