Board of Ethics: Councilwoman Brown Ad Solicitations Perfectly OK
A few weeks ago, we told you about a letter that Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown sent out on City of Philadelphia letterhead, trying to drum up ad revenue for 900-WURD, an all-talk, for-profit AM radio station in Philadelphia.
We thought that the letter raised some serious questions for the Councilwoman, who has previously admitted to violating campaign finance law, and Zack Stalberg of political watchdog group Committee of Seventy agreed that the letter was “particularly problematic.”
And even Brown herself said that she goofed, claiming that the mailing was supposed to have been aborted. “Any solicitation letters that were sent in the mail were mailed because of staff error,” she told us. “After performing some due diligence … it was determined that the proposed mailing should be aborted.”
When we called the Board of Ethics in March for comment on the letter, they told us they couldn’t give us one — the only way to get the BOE to tell you whether something is an ethical violation is to file a formal complaint. So we filed one, and they have responded indicating that there’s nothing to see here:
As BOE director of enforcement Michael Cooke explained in the response, the solicitation letter doesn’t violate any laws within the jurisdiction of the BOE. And, says Cooke, the Councilwoman has not run afoul of any ethical provisions, because she apparently has no financial interest in WURD and because WURD “did not give her any money.”
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