A Super PAC Just Dumped a Whole Lot of Money Into the Philly District Attorney Race

Larry Krasner 2

Photo courtesy of Larry Krasner’s campaign

The rumor has been swirling around Philadelphia’s political circles for months: A super PAC will throw its weight behind Democratic District Attorney candidate Larry Krasner.

Well, the gossip finally came true.

A group called the “Philadelphia Justice & Public Safety PAC” is spending about $300,000 on pro-Krasner TV advertisements airing from April 26th to May 2nd, according to PAC officer Whitney Tymas. If the super PAC keeps up that level of spending, it will pour almost $1 million into the race by Election Day. Read more »

Why Is Bob Brady Still in Charge?

Photo | Colin Lenton

Photo | Colin Lenton

Bob Brady, the U.S. Congressman and boss of Philadelphia’s Democratic Party, is six-foot-one and has a massive barrel chest. His head and neck are also strikingly thick; his voice is almost as gravelly as Tom Waits’s. In another life, he would have been a bodyguard. So when his black SUV whizzes past a couple police officers in Washington, D.C., they spot him easily. “Good morning, Congressman!” they shout, looking sincerely pleased to see him.

Brady grins. “The cops work for me,” he says. “The cops, the zoo, the garden, Smithsonian Institution, every employee, sergeant-at-arms, the courts, every one of them.” He is the ranking Democrat on the Committee on House Administration, which funds every office and panel in the chamber, manages many Capitol employees, and, apparently, oversees the National Zoo. The officers are smiling on this sunny morning in March, he says, because he got them a raise. “They’d all vote for me for Speaker!” Brady boasts. He’s used his committee to make many friends. In 2010, he says, back when the Democrats controlled Congress, a Republican named Kevin McCarthy asked Brady to pass legislation out of his committee. “I gave him a bill. I gave him two bills. I gave him three bills. And he never forgot that.” Today, McCarthy is the House Majority Leader. Read more »

Could Philly GOP Leader Joe DeFelice Resign for a Trump Administration Job?

Joe DeFelice Donald Trump

L: Joe DeFelice (photo via DeFelice’s Facebook), left, and Donald Trump (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Joe DeFelice, leader of Philadelphia’s Republican Party, has long been a staunch defender of President Donald Trump.

He was never a Never Trumper. He’s gone to the mat for Trump over many of his controversial decisions, like hiring strategist Steve Bannon and directing his children to manage his assets.

DeFelice also helped turn out the vote for Trump in Philadelphia. The Republican outperformed Mitt Romney and won a minimum of 25,000 votes from independents and Democrats in the city, according to an analysis by the City Commissioners’ office.

That all might pay off soon: Clout reports that DeFelice may step down as chairman of the Republican City Committee to take a position in the Trump administration. DeFelice did not respond to an immediate request for comment. Albert Eisenberg, the local GOP’s communications director, declined comment. Read more »

Philly Lawmakers Weren’t Up for Reelection in 2016, but They Raised $2M

City Council Entrance

Philadelphia City Council members aren’t up for reelection until 2019, but they raised almost $2 million combined last year, according a report by City & State.

Bobby Henon, a former political director for the city’s powerful electricians union, was the most successful fundraiser on Council in 2016. He brought in nearly $366,000, with roughly one-third of that cash coming from PACs connected to electricians union boss John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and other labor groups. Hey, why let a little FBI raid slow you down? Read more »

Here’s What’s Behind the Sharp Left Turn in Philly’s District Attorney Race

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Michael Untermeyer for District Attorney Campaign; ANNMARIE YOUNG; CITIZENS FOR RICH NEGRIN CAMPAIGN; JOSH PELTA-HELLER/KOALA PHOTOGRAPHY; krasner: NICK KELSH; ZAKIYAH CALDWELL; ERSKINE ISAAC/INVISION PHOTO; map: istockphoto

Clockwise from top left: Michael Untermeyer for District Attorney Campaign; Annmarie Young; Citizens for Rich Negrin Campaign; Josh Pelta-Heller/Koala Photography; Krasner: Nick Kelsh; Zakiyah Caldwell; Erskine Isaac/Invision Photo; Map: Istockphoto

Early in February, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams called an impromptu news conference. He arrived a few minutes after 10 a.m. in a pinstriped shirt, looking like he’d suffered through a long night with nothing but his own thoughts and a cigar. “Good morning, everyone,” he sighed into the microphone. “I have made the very difficult decision not to seek reelection to a third term.”

Williams was facing a rocky campaign. The FBI has been investigating him since at least 2015, and he recently was hit with the biggest fine in the history of the city’s ethics board for taking $175,000 in gifts and not bothering to report them. In those final moments of his political career, Williams made a revealing choice. He spent most of his time at the podium attempting to define his legacy as a victory for progressives: During his seven years in office, he said, he stopped locking people up for smoking pot, increased felony conviction rates, and helped bring humanity to the city’s punitive criminal justice system. Read more »

Philadelphia’s Police Union Endorses Rich Negrin for District Attorney

L to R: District Attorney candidate Rich Negrin and FOP president John McNesby. | Photo courtesy of Negrin's campaign

L to R: District attorney candidate Rich Negrin and FOP president John McNesby. | Photos by AP and courtesy of Negrin’s campaign

Philadelphia’s police union has picked a favorite in the Democratic primary for district attorney: Richard Negrin.

“Rich gets what it takes to keep our city safe,” John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said in a statement. “From his time as a prosecutor to his time as the city’s managing director, Rich has demonstrated a depth of understanding that is unmatched in the field. We know with Rich we’ll have a strong partner in the D.A.’s office and we look forward to working with him to strengthen and grow the relationships between our officers and the communities they serve.”

The FOP announced its endorsement of Negrin on Wednesday morning at a news conference, along with the Guardian Civil League, a group representing the city’s black police officers, and the leader of Philadelphia’s Spanish American Law Enforcement Association. Guardian Civic League president Rochelle Bilal said Negrin’s goal is for Philadelphia to be a city where “diverse communities enjoy strong, lasting relationships with the officers who serve them.” Read more »

The D.A. Candidate Who Threw His Hat in the Ring at the Last Possible Second

Jack O'Neill | Photo courtesy of O'Neill's campaign

Jack O’Neill | Photo courtesy of O’Neill’s campaign

Jack O’Neill kicked off his campaign for district attorney at the last possible minute. Literally.

The first time the 35-year-old Democrat was described as a candidate by the news media was when he submitted 1,776 signatures on his nominating petitions last Tuesday — the deadline for candidates to submit their paperwork to appear on the ballot. Before then, O’Neill hadn’t put out so much as a press release about his electoral ambitions.

Politicos were left scratching their heads: Who is this mystery man? And why would he jump into a race that already had six Democrats at each other’s throats?

“The reason I got in later than most people was because I was not going to run against Seth [Williams] in a campaign that seemed like it was going to be about trashing Seth for his personal problems,” says O’Neill. “I didn’t think it would help the city. I didn’t think it would help the D.A.’s office. I didn’t think it would help people’s confidence in law enforcement.”

O’Neill spoke with Philly Mag last week for nearly an hour. He talked about his experience prosecuting the “Kensington rapist,” his plan to expand the city’s crime-fighting Focused Deterrence program, and why he believes he is the most qualified person in the race to implement big reforms. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Read our Q&As with the other D.A. candidates in the May 16th election here. Read more »

Meet the D.A. Candidate Who Led Philly’s Civil Asset Forfeiture System

Beth Grossman | Photo courtesy of Grossman's campaign

Beth Grossman | Photo courtesy of Grossman’s campaign

Beth Grossman was a prosecutor for more than 20 years, serving in every unit in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.

From 2007 to 2015, the Republican led the city’s public nuisance task force, where she shut down nuisance bars, cleaned up abandoned lots, and cracked down on out-of-state slumlords, she says. The task force also handled civil asset forfeiture, which enables district attorneys to seize people’s cash and homes even if they are not convicted of a crime. The system has come under fire nationwide from both liberals and conservatives in recent years; Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said this month it “has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses.”

Grossman is proud of her time in charge of the city’s civil asset forfeiture program. She says she used the law to seize drug dealers’ homes and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods. “A neighbor called to thank me for getting rid of a drug house next door to him. He told me that he could now sit on his porch again,” she says. “Enjoying the basic joys and comforts of one’s home without crime negatively affecting his or her safety and quality of life is something that everyone in Philadelphia should be able to do.” Read more »

Feds Accuse Tierra Colombiana and Mixto of Failing to Pay Overtime

Tierra-937x538

L: Tierra Colombiana | Photo via Google Street View

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a Fair Labor Standards Act complaint against Mixto and Tierra Colombiana, alleging that the Latin American restaurants failed to pay their employees overtime.

According to the filing, the popular Philadelphia eateries gave their workers a handbook that explicitly laid out their no-overtime policy: “Mixto/Tierra Colombiana does not pay overtime. Every extra hour will be paid as a regular salary.” The federal government also accused Mixto and Tierra Colombiana of not keeping records of their workers’ wages and hours. Read more »

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