Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration said Wednesday it had significantly increased the contract for a high-profile defense attorney as questions persist about City Hall’s role in alleged strong-arm tactics by local unions.
The taxpayer-funded contract for the defense attorney, Brian T. Kelly, has been increased to $200,000 as federal investigators probe whether the Boston Calling music festival was forced to hire union stagehands. The former federal prosecutor will also consult with an outside panel of experts reviewing the city’s Office of Tourism, Sports, and Entertainment.
Kelly was initially hired last fall under a $50,000 contract to represent the Walsh administration after a city official was cited in a criminal indictment accusing members of Teamsters Local 25 of trying to force the television show “Top Chef” to abandon its nonunion crew. In December, the city released an 11-page report in which Kelly said he found no criminal wrongdoing by city employees but did find a concerted effort to preserve the administration’s relationship with the Teamsters.
On Wednesday, the city released an amended contract showing that Kelly’s maximum pay had been increased to $100,000 on Jan. 25 and increased again to $200,000 on Feb. 1.
“The original contracted amount did not anticipate the complexity and protracted nature of these matters and was insufficient to meet the costs of the services being rendered,” wrote the city’s corporation counsel, Eugene O’Flaherty, in a letter explaining the increase.
The Walsh administration acknowledged Friday in response to a Globe inquiry that federal authorities were investigating Boston Calling, the music festival on City Hall Plaza. On Wednesday, Walsh’s spokeswoman, Laura Oggeri, said she did not anticipate that Kelly would produce a separate report about Boston Calling.
“We expect that any findings or recommendations will be included in the city’s larger review of event management; however, we also defer to attorney Kelly as he moves through his review,” Oggeri said in an e-mail. “We look forward to the input of the committee as we determine next steps.”
The Globe reported that two people familiar with the probe said authorities were investigating whether a member of Walsh’s administration warned festival organizers they could face problems if they did not hire union stage hands.
A similar warning had been conveyed to a Boston hotel and restaurant during the “Top Chef” episode.
Last month, the Globe published a story about a widespread federal investigation of union tactics that included subpoenas to City Hall staff members.
Kelly, who referred comments to the Walsh administration, is an attorney with the Boston law firm Nixon Peabody.
In representing the Walsh administration, Kelly has given the city a significant discount from his standard fee but is still paid $625 an hour. That rate is nearly three times what the city usually pays outside lawyers.