Last week, West denied any such payment to Street.
Street maintained his silence on the payment, declining to comment other than to say he was cooperating with the federal inquiry.
"I reiterate, I have done nothing wrong either as mayor, Council president, Council member or private lawyer," he said in a statement yesterday.
In late summer 1998, Street, then the City Council president about to leave office to prepare for his first mayoral campaign, traveled to the New Hampshire home of company founder Bernard T. West, Kobie West's father.
Street gave a "wonderful, hour-long oral presentation" about the Philadelphia business climate at a board meeting, Kobie West said. At the time, West Insurance was a Boston company considering an expansion into Philadelphia.
"And since he was an outgoing City Council member, a lawyer, and a lifelong Philadelphian, who better to make such a presentation?" Kobie West said, speaking to reporters in his Center City office.
He said the payment was arranged by businessman Willie F. Johnson, then a West board member, and lawyer Carl Singley, who was then a Street friend and adviser looking for out-of-town companies to help supplement Street's income.
"Carl Singley asked us for $10,000," West said.
West said it was unclear what, if anything, Singley expected Street would do for the money. West said he came up with the idea of the presentation because he did not want to pay Street for nothing.
Singley has since had a bitter break with Street, and West complained that his firm has been dragged into that feud.
Federal authorities have been asking about the check, as well as demanding records about the Wests' contracts from five public agencies.
West said he turned over the $10,000 check to federal authorities, along with other company records, in late spring.
"We had nothing to hide about what we did," he said.
Although Singley, West and Johnson are in agreement on many details, they split at a critical point: what Street did for the $10,000.
Singley, who said he has talked to the FBI, said in a phone interview yesterday that Street was never asked to give any speech to the West Insurance board.
"Absolutely not. I handled all of the arrangements for this trip," said Singley, who accompanied Street on the trip to New Hampshire.
"There was no one-hour speech."
Singley said the payment was for legal work that Street might provide in the future. He said Street signed a retainer letter.
"The expectation was that Street would provide general advice," Singley said.
Singley said he wanted to ensure that Street did not face ethical issues during a campaign by accepting fees from people doing business in the city.
He would not identify other companies that he said made similar payments to Street.
Singley denied that he was trying to pull West into a political squabble. "I have no ulterior motive," he said, adding that he was only "stating the facts as I know them."
But West said there was no retainer letter or other documents about the $10,000. "John Street did no legal work for West Insurance," he said.
He also said Singley was in the room during the speech.
West allowed reporters to view a copy of the canceled check yesterday. Dated Aug. 10, 1998, it was drawn on a West Insurance Agency account and made out to "John F. Street, Attorney at Law." The check was signed and cashed.
Johnson, a big fund-raiser for Street, said Singley called him in mid-1998, looking for companies outside Pennsylvania "that might be interested in hiring Mr. Street as an attorney."
Street needed money then because he was about to leave his $80,000-a-year job as Council president to spend a year on the campaign trail.
In a written statement provided by West, Johnson says he introduced Singley to West as "a favor to Carl." Johnson said he saw Street deliver "an outstanding presentation."
Street did report income from his law practice on his 1998 financial disclosure; those forms do not require that lawyers detail their clients or fees. He did not list any speaking fees.
West Insurance relocated most of its operations to Philadelphia in 1999, as Street was making his first mayoral run.
Since then, the company has won more than $1 million in insurance contracts from city and regional agencies.
The Inquirer has reported that in two of those contracts, partners and one city official said the firm did little or no work.
West said his company was capable of doing more work but was pushed aside in those two deals because those firms were not interested in true partnerships with minority companies.
He blamed the federal scrutiny on $1,000-a-month payments made to lawyer Ronald A. White by a company that West Insurance later bought. West said he ended the payments to White, a former Street confidante who is awaiting trial on corruption charges, because "we don't pay people for doing nothing."
The Wests had been campaign contributors to Street for years, but last year they switched sides and donated to the campaign of Republican Sam Katz.
Since first asked by The Inquirer last week, Bernard and Kobie West have given shifting accounts of the $10,000 payment to Street.
Bernard and Kobie West at first denied the payment. Bernard West couched his statement by saying he never "personally" paid Street and declined to take questions about his business.
Last week, when asked about payments from any West-affiliated businesses or executives, Kobie West said that any suggestion of a payment was "an absolute lie."
Yesterday, he said he was speaking only of "personal" payments by his father.
Bob Stern, president of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies, a nonprofit research organization, said speakers fees long ago were banned by the California legislature because "it's a way of paying people for not much work."
Stern said the type of speech West described was questionable.
"It's one thing if you give a speech to the National Association of Widget Makers. It's another if you just give a speech to a company. It doesn't sound like it was a legitimate honorarium."
Contact staff writer Joseph Tanfani at 215-854-2684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inquirer staff writers Marcia Gelbart and Nancy Phillips contributed to this article.