Micah Mahjoubian is one of the most connected players in Philadelphia politics. He had a high-ranking job in John Street’s administration for eight years. He was senior adviser for Johnny Doc’s ill-fated run for State Senate. He was recently elected to be a member of the Democratic State Committee in the 1st Senatorial District, an office he holds today. And he is on the board of the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club. So what’s Mahjoubian doing consorting with ex-convict Joshua Scott Albert, the notorious creator of the blog Staphmeal, who is still on probation after spending 8 months in jail?
The answer is that Mahjoubian wanted Albert to start a blog about controversial Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush, who intends to run against Councilman Kenyatta Johnson next year and who just filed suit against the councilman earlier this week.
Mahjoubian's company, Soapbox Solutions, has a client list that includes District Attorney Seth Williams, City Controller Alan Butkovitz, the late Senator Arlen Specter, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, and, yep, Councilman Johnson. Mahjoubian was working for Johnson during the recent Feibush vs. Johnson battle for control of the 36th Ward in South Philadelphia, a battle Feibush lost.
Here's what Mahjoubian had to say about Feibush in a blog post he wrote on Soapbox's website:
His efforts were very high profile, as he spent his own money to recruit people to run for those positions, and pay the legal bills to have Committee Person candidates who support Councilman Johnson knocked off the ballot. Councilman Johnson hired us to help him beat back this Committee Person challenge.
And it was during that battle that Mahjoubian approached Albert with an idea. Mahjoubian had friended Albert on Facebook early in May, after which Albert asked him for an internship with Soapbox.
"I thought of something we might be able to work in [sic] together," wrote Mahjoubian to Albert in a text message. "I'd like to create an anonymous blog that chronicles all the shitty things Ori does."
"That is something I'd be more than glad to help you out with!" Albert quickly responded.
Albert came up with a name for the blog, IAmOriFeibush.com, which Mahjoubian thought was terrific. "It will play into his hyper egoism," he wrote. And Albert registered the Twitter account @IAmOriFeibush, which hasn't tweeted anything yet.
On June 4th, Albert told Mahjoubian that the site would be up in a few days.
"I can't wait," wrote Mahjoubian. "This whole project will be fun."
"Oh it will be," replied Albert.
Albert hasn't registered the site yet, and earlier this week, Mahjoubian checked in with him about it. On Thursday night, Albert told me that he decided not to do it. "I'm just not interested in these politics," he said. But then a couple of hours later, he sent a message to Mahjoubian asking for more money. (Albert says that Mahjoubian had paid him $100 in cash so far.)
On Friday afternoon, I asked Mahjoubian why he would hire Albert to do this.
"I don't know that I have any comment about that," he told me, followed by a long pause. "I met with him several weeks ago, when he reached out asking for an internship, and there wasn't a whole lot I had for him to do. And after some reflection, I had an idea to do some things to get some information out there about a different perspective about that race. There was some talk about it, but it didn't happen. … The decision was made not to do it."
Mahjoubian also made clear that Councilman Johnson was unaware of the plan and that it had nothing to do with him.
"It's disappointing," Feibush told me from his office on Friday afternoon, when I made him aware of Mahjoubian's activities. "It's a shame. But at the end of the day, no one in this neighborhood cares about me or Kenyatta. They care about having clean, safe streets. They care about having good schools to send their kids to. But, unfortunately, I wasn't even surprised when you told me this. They should be disappointed in themselves. It's pathetic. I put my name on everything that I do. I personally sued Kenyatta. I personally stand before neighborhood committees. They would rather fight in the shadows. The Councilman should be embarrassed."
Councilman Johnson was not immediately available for comment.
Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.