Ethical Mess in Philadelphia

John D. McDaniel /

Philadelphia Democrat John McDaniel, former campaign manager for City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, was sentenced Tuesday to serve a year and a day in federal prison for wire fraud charges related to stealing $100,000 in campaign and PAC money.

The FBI stated in a Tuesday press release:

McDaniel, the former treasurer of the campaign/political committee for a Philadelphia city councilperson, was fired from his city-paid airport job after the city Board of Ethics identified numerous reporting irregularities by McDaniel in the campaign’s required city filings.

Between 2009 and 2011, McDaniel used several methods to routinely and, at times, without authorization, withdraw funds from the committee account, which funds he then used for his own purposes and other purposes. At times, McDaniel wrote and cashed checks to himself and wrote checks to Progressive Agenda, a political action committee which he controlled and from which he then took stolen funds. McDaniel concealed the theft by filing false and incomplete campaign finance reports.

McDaniel was indicted in February for wire fraud. He was a top donor to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams’ election campaign in 2009. Personally donating more than $9,000 to the district attorney’s campaign would have been a violation of campaign limits; however, then-candidate Dan McCaffery triggered the "millionaire's provision" in that DA race, doubling contribution caps.

Two Philadelphia mayors have fired McDaniel since 2005. He has an eight-year history of violating election laws and was a paid consultant for Mayor Michael Nutter’s 2011 reelection campaign.

Brown has her own ethical issues.

The councilwoman admitted last year to the Philadelphia Ethics Board that she misused campaign funds to repay a personal loan received in 2010 from Chaka Fattah, Jr. (a.k.a. "Chip").  This admission came a month after federal officials raided Fattah's home inside the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia.

Fattah has been under investigation by the IRS and FBI since 2012 for questionable tax and banking issues. Former Pennsylvania Gov. and MSNBC contributor Ed Rendell has begun fundraising efforts to help relieve the legal bills Fattah’s family has accumulated for their son’s defense.

A 16-page settlement agreement between the City of Philadelphia Board of Ethics and the councilwoman depicts the "material omissions and misstatements," "excess contributions from Progressive Agenda PAC," disclosure violations, and misappropriation of campaign funds for which the campaign was responsible.