KSTP-TV reported last night that Johnson hired the Kennedy and Graven law firm to handle some of the county’s legal matters. Johnson’s son, Ben, is a lawyer and shareholder at the firm. The station says some $420,000 in taxpayer money has been paid to the law firm for county work since 2002.
Johnson denies a conflict of interest and says Kennedy and Graven is the best available legal firm to handle the county’s complex public bond issues.
County board member Dick Lang says he was unaware of the matter and says it needs to be addressed.
Former White House ethics lawyer Robert Painter says the work shouldn’t have been directed to the law firm without approval from the Anoka County Board of Commissioners.
I don’t know if there’s an actual ethics violation here or not, but I’m not sure that it passes the smell test. I’d like to hear your thoughts.
Johnson, who has been the Anoka County Attorney for nearly three decades, is retiring this year. Assistant Hennepin County attorney Brad Johnson and assistant Anoka County attorney Tony Palumbo are vying for the job.