Speaker DeLeo Still Paying Big Bucks For Probation-Related Lawyering

Speaker Robert DeLeo has paid $300,000 this year in legal services related to the ongoing US Attorney investigation into patronage at the probation department.

The payments to the Mintz, Levin law firm were disclosed in a campaign-finance report filed today. R. Robert Popeo, of Mintz, Levin, confirmed that the fees relate to “the whole probation department investigation.”

The investigation into allegations of patronage began in 2010 after a Globe Spotlight report. Although there have been a few indictments, none have yet come against any elected officials.

It is unclear how much of the $300,000 is for recently provided work, and how much might be DeLeo paying legal fees that have compiled over the past few years. Since paying around $60,000 to Mintz, Levin in 2009, DeLeo’s campaign account has not shown similarly large payments to the firm, during the time when the US Attorney’s investigation has been ongoing.

“We bill when we can bill, and the Speaker pays when he can pay,” Popeo said.

Although Popeo has long insisted that DeLeo is not a subject of the investigation, it has been clear that in his position as Speaker and previously as Ways and Means chair, DeLeo has been close enough to the events under investigation to require legal advice and representation. Other public officials have used their campaign accounts to pay legal fees.

“Robert Popeo has represented Speaker DeLeo for years, and the expenditures reflected in the OCPF report relate to that representation,” said David N. Martin, DeLeo committee treasurer, in a statement.

The campaign-finance report, covering the first six months of 2013, shows two $150,000 payments, on January 25 and March 28. DeLeo raised $342,000 during the six-month period, which is a typical sum for him. However, the payments to Mintz, Levin left him with just $184,000 in his campaign account—the lowest balance he’s reported since 2006, long before he became Speaker.