Thinking he was some official in the government and was there to help, she complied, especially after he warned her that fighting"could be costly."
Brennan denied he ever said he was calling on behalf of the Lehigh County Democratic Party, but clammed up pretty quickly when I spoke to him yesterday. Democratic Party Chair Rick Daugherty has told the Morning Call he was not acting on behalf of the party, and party leader Bar Johnston also confirmed that in a telephone conversation with me last night.
Having been disbarred myself, I'm an expert on lawyer ethics. It appears to me that, regardless whether he misrepresented himself as a lawyer for the Lehigh County Democratic Party, Brennan's conduct was unethical. According to Disciplinary Rule 4.3(b),
During the course of a lawyer's representation of a client, a lawyer shall not give advice to a person who is not represented by a lawyer, other than the advice to secure counsel, if the lawyer knows or reasonably should know the interests of such person are or have a reasonable possibility of being in conflict with the interests of the lawyer's client.Instead of using scare tactics, Brennan should have filed a ballot challenge and advised Velez to seek counsel.
This rule obviously exists to prevent precisely the kind of intimidation that occurred here. Violation of this rule is prima facia evidence that the Velez withdrawal was under duress.
There is no doubt in my mind that Brennan was acting on behalf of incumbent Council members Julio Guridy and Cynthia Mota, who are fearful she will draw Latino votes from them. But I have not contacted them.