FBI Raids Pro-Biden Union in Philadelphia

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October 16, 2020

Federal authorities raided an electricians’ union headquarters in Philadelphia on Friday morning, which had a massive flag promoting Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden covering the front of the building.

The Local 98 electricians’ union—a chapter of the larger International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers—was searched by the FBI at 7 a.m. on Friday, according to Philadelphia news outlet Billy Penn. It remains unclear why the FBI raided the building, but the raid marks the second time that federal authorities searched the location since the union’s alleged corrupt activities came into view four years ago.

In 2019, the Justice Department indicted Local 98’s union boss John "Doc" Dougherty Jr. on corruption charges related to the embezzlement of funds for personal use. Dougherty and his union engaged in highly overt political activism, spending millions on campaign spending and contributions to political candidates.

The indictment notwithstanding, union officials maintained that Dougherty's arrest would not change the frequency of the union’s political activity.

 In February 2020, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers officially endorsed Biden for president—though over 1,200 members of the organization called for union leadership to retract the endorsement.

Given the major financial and political influence of unions—particularly in the swing state of Pennsylvania—Biden has played up both his labor union and Pennsylvania ties on the campaign trail. On Labor Day, Biden spoke to union members at a Harrisburg, Pa., rally, touting his support for organized labor.

"I’ve never been afraid to say the word union," Biden said. "You can be sure to hear the word ’union’ plenty of times when I’m in the White House."

Biden has emphasized his Pennsylvania roots, sometimes to the point of falsification. The Democratic nominee told voters in Erie, Pa., last week that his great-grandfather Edward F. Blewett was the first Irish Catholic to be elected to the Pennsylvania state senate in 1907. A fact check done by the Dispatch later that week identified an Irish Catholic state senator in Pennsylvania almost a hundred years earlier in 1813.

Published under: FBI , Philadelphia , Unions