Philly’s Public Defender: George Soros’s Associates Wanted Me to Run for D.A.

L: Keir Bradford-Grey R: George Soros (Courtesy of

L: Keir Bradford-Grey (Courtesy of the Defender Association) R: George Soros (Courtesy of GeorgeSoros.com)

Why would an up-and-coming progressive turn down billionaire George Soros?

That’s the question some Philadelphia Democrats are now asking, after chief public defender Keir Bradford-Grey told her employees last week that she would not run for district attorney in the upcoming Democratic primary. “This is the biggest D.A.’s race in the country,” said one incredulous political insider following the announcement. “Once you have [Soros’s backing], you can go on to be the U.S. attorney, to be the president!”  Read more »

D.A. Candidate Donates $250,000 to Own Campaign, Triggering “Millionaire’s Provision”

Left: Michael Untermeyer via Facebook, Right: Seth Williams, photo by Matt Rourke, Associated Press

Left: Michael Untermeyer via Facebook, Right: Seth Williams, photo by Matt Rourke, Associated Press

On Monday, the Philadelphia Board of Ethics announced that Michael Untermeyer, one of five candidates hoping to unseat Seth Williams as district attorney later this year, had donated more than $250,000 of his own money to his campaign effort.

A self-directed donation of that size triggers the so-called “millionaire’s provision” in the local campaign finance law, automatically raising the limit on campaign donations from individuals and political committees. Now, donations will be capped at $6,000 for individuals and $23,800 for political committees, up from $3,000 and $11,900, respectively. The new limits will hold even if Untermeyer quits the race or his campaign returns a portion of his donation, according to an Ethics Board advisory. Read more »

Grossman: Philly “Deserves Better” Than Seth Williams

Former city prosecutor Beth Grossman announces her candidacy in front of a Kensington pawn shop where her family once owned a candy store.

Former city prosecutor Beth Grossman announces her candidacy in front of a Kensington pawn shop where her family once owned a candy store. Photo by David Gambacorta

If you’re going to try to hold a press conference in the middle of Kensington, you have to expect the unexpected.

Former city prosecutor Beth Grossman seemed prepared for most of the little interruptions that came her way on Wednesday afternoon: the occasional burst of thunder from the Market-Frankford El, the get-out-of-my-way horns from passing motorists, the locals who hovered nearby and talked over portions of a short, formal speech that outlined her decision to run as a Republican to unseat her former boss, District Attorney Seth Williams. Read more »

Philly’s Biggest Losers of 2016

Background image by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia™

Background image by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia™

Now that the last shreds of wrapping paper have been vacuumed up and the good dishes are finally put away, we revisit our time-honored tradition of taking a look back at the year and the losers, miscreants, and ne’er-do-wells it spawned. (For a more optimistic view of Philadelphia, consider Holly Otterbein‘s Biggest Winners of 2016.)

Ed Rendell

The once-lovable former champion of the everyman now spends his time being largely irrelevant and making facepalm-worthy comments in places like the Washington Post. But when you’re pulling in a cool $5,000 each month to do virtually nothing for a casino in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you probably don’t care. Read more »

What’s in Store for Philly’s Police Union in 2017

Fraternal Order of Police president John McNesby looks ahead to a busy 2017.

Fraternal Order of Police president John McNesby (left) looks ahead to a busy 2017 that will include supporting a candidate to unseat District Attorney Seth Williams (center), working with state Rep. Martina White (top, right) on a bill that addresses police shootings, and dealing with the uncertain fallout of president-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

John McNesby sounds like he’s in a good mood when he picks up the phone a few days before Christmas. The president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 is tending to some odds and ends around the office, putting the finishing touches on what has proven to be an interesting year for the union and the 6,100 or so members who make up Philadelphia’s police force. Read more »

To Resist Trump, Fix Philly’s Elite, Boring, Anti-Competitive Democratic Party

Bob Brady, Leslie Acosta and Chaka Fattah.

Bob Brady, Leslie Acosta and Chaka Fattah. Photos Jeff Fusco, Pa. House, Matt Rourke via AP

Philadelphia’s Democratic Party suffers from the same cancer as the national Democratic Party. Only it’s arguably much more advanced.

Think the Democratic National Committee favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders behind closed doors? In Philadelphia, the Democratic City Committee paves the way for its preferred candidates out in the open, without any shame: Before the mayoral primary even started, Philly Democratic Party boss Bob Brady publicly threw his weight behind state Sen. Tony Williams. The party puts its thumb on the scales in Democratic primaries for the judiciary, City Council and General Assembly, too, and its endorsements matter even more in these races because so few people pay close attention to them.

Think the national Democratic Party turns a blind eye to corruption? Earlier this year, the Democratic City Committee endorsed Chaka Fattah for Congress after he was charged with using taxpayer dollars and charitable donations to pay back an illegal loan. How could the party do this, as its schools were starving and its constituents were sinking deeper and deeper into poverty? Oh, but it gets worse: This month, Philly Democratic state Rep. Leslie Acosta was reelected after pleading guilty to conspiring to commit money laundering at a mental health clinic in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. Imagine how selfish you have to be to run for office after admitting to bilking the most vulnerable among us — and imagine how little she’ll be able to get done for her constituents, many of whom are Latinos and immigrants, now that she’s the laughingstock of Harrisburg. The list goes on and on. Over the summer, the FBI raided the offices of Democratic Councilman Bobby Henon and subpoenaed Mayor Jim Kenney’s campaign finance records. The feds are also reportedly investigating Democratic District Attorney Seth Williams.

Think the national Democrats are boring and not liberal enough? Let me introduce you to Katie McGinty, the uncharismatic Senate candidate who lost to Pat Toomey in an election that Democrats desperately needed to win in case of a Donald Trump upset. A lot has been made of the fact that McGinty, a moderate who supports fracking and is wishy-washy on sanctuary cities, received millions of dollars from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the primary. What has gotten much less attention is the fact that she was just as much a product of the Philadelphia Democratic Party as the DSCC. Everyone from Brady to former Gov. Ed Rendell to former Mayor Michael Nutter to numerous City Council members backed her in the primary over Democrats John Fetterman and Joe Sestak, two anti-establishment figures who might have fared better in a year in which people were clearly crying out for change. Read more »

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