Law Firm Asks Court to Forgive Bob Brady’s $450,000 Debt

Cozen O'Connor wants to let Congressman walk away from the bill.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

It seems a bit late to make a donation to Congressman Bob Brady‘s failed 2007 mayoral campaign — but not, perhaps, if you’re a well-heeled law firm.

The Legal Intelligencer reports today that the firm Cozen O’Connor is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to let it forgive $450,000 owed by Brady from when the firm defended him from Tom Knox‘s challenge to his spot on the Democratic ballot that year. Stephen Cozen argued on behalf of his firm. (Earlier reports put the tab at $500,000.)

At question: Whether that forgiveness of debt would then be considered a campaign contribution. Cozen argues that the law as it existed in 2007 (it has since been amended) allows the company to make a “post-campaign” contribution that also exceeded the $11,500 cap on company contributions to campaigns.

Cozen also argues that the law doesn’t apply because defending Brady’s spot on the ballot was not an expenditure intended to influence the outcome of the election.

The Supreme Court justices were skeptical of both lines of reasoning. “What do you mean it doesn’t influence the election? Of course it does,” said Justice J. Michael Eakin.

The case was heard today at Philadelphia City Hall. No word on a ruling.

Brady, of course, isn’t the only candidate from 2007 with residual problems from that campaign. His fellow congressman, Chakah Fattah, is under scrutiny after his top aide and close friend Gregory Naylor, pleaded guilty to a scheme to replay an illegal campaign loan using funds diverted from federally funded non-profit organizations. Fattah has denied wrongdoing, and federal officials have declined to say whether he is a target of their investigation.

Read the previous Commonwealth Court opinion: