The Philadelphia Board of Ethics announced on Monday that it had reached a settlement with two political committees that supported Manny Morales, who narrowly lost a challenge to 7th District City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez in last year’s primary election. The 7th Ward/Friends of Angel Cruz PAC and the Latinos United for Political Empowerment PAC have agreed to pay a total of $8,000 in fines for making in-kind donations to Morales’ PAC that exceed campaign contribution limits, according to the terms of the settlement.
The two PACs coordinated spending and get-out-the-vote efforts with the Morales campaign, the Board of Ethics found in its investigation. LUPE spent $22,000 in coordination with the campaign, exceeding the $11,500 limit for donations from a political committee to a candidate in one calendar year. The 7th Ward/Friends of Angel Cruz PAC spent $48,325 in coordination with the Morales campaign, according to the settlement. Both PACs failed to disclose the in-kind contributions on campaign finance reports. Each of the four violations — two excessive contributions and two failures to disclose — each carries a fine of $2,000.
Morales was backed by a dozen 7th District ward leaders and, initially, by the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee, which has never supported Sánchez in her three successful Council campaigns. The Democratic Party rescinded its endorsement of Morales after Sánchez’ campaign revealed racist and homophobic posts on his Facebook page.
LUPE first supported former judge Nelson Diaz in the mayoral primary last year. It withdrew its support of Diaz after he declined to help fund Morales’ campaign for City Council (Diaz said LUPE asked for $102,000) and threw its weight behind Jim Kenney instead. Kenney’s campaign maintained it was not supporting Morales for Council.
Philadelphia’s electricians union, led by John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, gave $25,000 to the 7th Ward/Friends of Angel Cruz and $25,000 to 19th Ward Executive Committee, which is chaired by Carlos Matos. Cruz and Matos are members of LUPE. Doc was one of Kenney’s most decisive supporters.
The Ethics Board settlement contains a provision saying that the three men named — Angel Cruz, LUPE PAC treasurer Jose Giral, and 7th Ward/Friends of Angel Cruz PAC treasurer Joseph Evangelista — “will cooperate, if necessary, with further Board investigation and/or enforcement related to the conduct described in [the] Agreement.”
Asked if previous ethics settlements have included provisions to that effect, Ethics Board executive director Shane Creamer said, “No, we have not used that language or had a similar provision in any prior settlement agreement.”
Sanchez, when asked for comment, said the settlement isn’t the end of the story: “There’s something more.”
Holly Otterbein contributed to this report.
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