Erie County Water Authority racks up legal bills

In November, Investigative Post reported how the Erie County Water Authority had cut corners in a program required by the federal government to test tap water for lead.

Two weeks later, we pointed out how the water authority used paid Facebook ads and Twitter posts to release misleading statements about the program.

Now we learn from the Buffalo News that the water authority has spent almost $130,000 in legal fees in part on what it termed a “state of emergency” in action “against Investigative Post for improper conduct.”

But officials with the water authority refuse “to provide any documents stating the reasons, subject and purpose for hiring an outside firm to address the Investigative Post matter,” according to the Buffalo News report. The newspaper added that  “a couple of representatives for the water authority have informally suggested that the $129,508 spent with Phillips Lytle is for work much broader and far reaching than any perceived misconduct by Investigative Post.”

Jim Heaney, editor and executive director of Investigative Post, called on the water authority to be “transparent in how it spent public funds in apparent response to that reporting.”