Do the wrong thing

    When Ed Rendell was running for governor, he said it would be wrong for him to do exactly what he’s now doing – returning to the same law firm that gave him a launching pad for his campaign.

    This little inconvenient piece of history comes to us courtesy of Pete DeCoursey of the online news service Capitolwire.com.

    “I think it is wrong for a governor to sever connections from a firm, be governor, apply the law and then go back to that firm,” Rendell said in 2002 when he was campaigning for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

    Rendell’s ties to the Ballard Spahr firm in Philadelphia became an issue in the campaign, in part because Rendell acknowledged that he’d done “very little” work at the firm in 2002 while collecting a salary of $252,000.

    Rendell argued at the time that Ballard couldn’t expect favorable treatment from the state while he was governor because he had no plans to return to the firm, so he didn’t need to curry favor with its managers.

    Ballard is home to many Rendell friends, supporters and fundraisers. According to a recent piece in the Inquirer, Ballard got nearly $20 million in no-bid state contracts while Rendell was governor.

    DeCoursey reports that Rendell said in an interview Monday he’d changed his view that returning to Ballard after leaving the governor’s office would be wrong.

    “I decided if I wanted to practice law and adhere to what I said in 2002, I couldn’t practice law anywhere in Pennsylvania,” Rendell told Capitolwire. Since Rendell always intended to return the practice of law, he said. “It made the most sense to go with a firm where they had the practices in the areas I was most interested in, with the firm where I had the most experience, and where I had the most friends.”

    Rendell said the state had given business to so many law firms that he wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere that hadn’t gotten some state work.

    Rendell is a prolific fundraiser and has long argued that he because he gets contributions from so many sources, he doesn’t really owe anyone favors when he gets into office.

    In other Rendell news, NBC has made it official, announcing that the guv will become a political analyst for both NBC and MSNBC.

    NBC News president Steve Capus (who I knew as a WHYY news intern in the 1980’s) said that Rendell “has never been afraid to share his thoughtful analysis on national and local issues and he couldn’t be a better fit for NBC News.”

    In other other Rendell news, the Brookings Institution has made it official, announcing that Rendell is joining the think tank Feb. 1 as a distinguished senior fellow.

    “Rendell will work with the Metropolitan Policy Program to advance the program’s key initiatives on reinvigorating the nation’s metropolitan economies with particular emphasis on transportation and energy infrastructure,” the Brookings statement said.

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