Law 360 reports that Philadelphia law firm Cozen O’Connor has gone to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in an effort to wipe $500,000 owed it by Congressmen Bob Brady from his failed 2007 mayoral run.
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics and lower state courts have ruled that the half-million-dollar debt—incurred by Brady as he fought off a challenge to his appearance on the ballot—would amount to a campaign donation that far exceeds the city's campaign finance limits. But Cozen O'Connor argues that city rules don't explicitly include post-candidacy contributions.
Brady, still a U.S. congressman and Philadelphia's Democratic boss, remains one of the city's most powerful politicians — despite that 2007 loss to Michael Nutter in the Democratic primary. (How did that happen, anyway?) It's easy to see why a powerful law firm might just decide to make a gift of its professional service — it's also easy to see how outsiders might conclude that an extremely large "post campaign contribution" might be ethically troubling. The U.S. House of Representatives, where Brady serves, has a $50 limit on the value of gifts and loans to its members — and yes, the House defines gifts broadly to include a reimbursement after an expense has been incurred. It's the city's rules that apply, but it's the integrity of Brady's current position that might be at stake.