Terree Bowers left his job as chief deputy to City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo recently to specialize in white-collar criminal defense as a partner at the downtown law firm Howrey LLP. In a Q-and-A with Amanda Bronstad of the L.A. Business Journal, he deftly dodges a couple of questions about City Hall's formerly favorite international PR operation:
Q: While at the City Attorney’s Office, you supervised the $5.7 million settlement with Fleishman-Hillard. Why did the firm pay so much?
A: They faced a huge risk in litigating the case because it would take a long time before the case was decided. It obviously didn’t enhance their reputation to continually be in the news. We also had penalties and other provisions in the law that could have multiplied the actual loss significantly. I’m sure they thought it was in their best interest to resolve it rather than face that kind of exposure. They wanted to put this behind them and show they could clean up their own shop.
Q: Any idea how the federal investigation of Fleishman’s executives will turn out?
A: You have one (executive) who’s already cooperating, so that’s usually an advantage for the prosecution – although you can never tell these days.
Q: Who bears responsibility for the situation rising to the level of a criminal investigation?
A: Some of it develops over time and people think they get more access as a result of contributing. It’s good the new mayor is requiring commissions [sic] to sign these ethics pledges because it can get out of hand. And I think the ethics commission does a very good job, but they’re somewhat understaffed. They have so many referrals it’s impossible for them to keep up with all of them.
He blames the often-noticed turnover in Delgadillo's office on "some resistance to change" among the staff, and denies that referrals to outside law firms have been excessive.
By the way: James Nash's media column in this week's LABJ observes that the bio of Fred Muir, the new boss at Burson-Marsteller we told you about in June, refers to his past employment at Fleishman-Hillard only as a stint with a "major international communications consulting firm."