Embattled Philly Politico Charged on Second Campaign Scheme

PHILADELPHIA (CN) — Heaping pressure on the only defendant in a Philadelphia corruption scandal who has not struck a plea deal, federal prosecutors unveiled new charges Tuesday against political consultant Kenneth Smukler.

The original indictment of 57-year-old Smukler occurred in October, three weeks after former Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to the Federal Elections Commission about a payment he took from his opponent to drop out of the 2012 election.

Moore had been running that year for a seat on the U.S. House of Representatives. Though prosecutors have never named the political rival who paid the judge, the face of Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District has been U.S. Rep. Bob Brady since 1998.

Smukler had been an aide to Bob Brady, but the superseding indictment brought Tuesday accuses the Villanova resident of additional illegal activity in the 2014 congressional campaign of a different candidate.

Again this candidate is not named, but the description of “Candidate C” aligns with Marjorie Margolies, a former member of Congress from Montgomery County who ran again in 2014.

When the Margolies campaign had been running low on funds it could spend in the 2014 election primary, according to the indictment, Smukler directed the campaign to keep spending.

Prosecutors say the consultant covered the ledger by making a backdoor $78,750 payment to the campaign. Though the money had come from one of Smukler’s associates, according to the indictment, Smukler told the campaign that this money came from a segregated media account.

Margolies still lost the primary, however, and prosecutors say Smukler concealed another shortfall by funneling $150,000 in illegal contributions from an associate to the campaign through two of his consulting companies.

Again Smukler allegedly lied to the campaign about the source of these funds, characterizing them as refunds of money that had been escrowed in Smukler’s companies for general election expenses.

Though the Federal Election Commission had a pending complaint against the Margolies campaign, prosecutors say the misrepresentations of the payments by the campaign, as caused by Smukler, led the FEC to dismiss it.

The new indictment adds charges of obstruction and making contributions in the name of another.

Margolies had represented Pennsylvania’s 13th District in the U.S. House from 1993 to 1995. The Philadelphia Inquirer approached her about the superseding indictment against Smukler, but she declined to comment.

The other congressman Smukler worked with, Brady, is the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Committee on House Administration. Considered a powerful power broker in the city, Brady has been chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Party since 1986.

Two of the middlemen who ferried money from Brady to Moore pleaded guilty to charges last year.

Carolyn Cavaness, the judge’s campaign manager, created a company whose sole purpose was to accept and use the $25,000 from Moore’s opponent.

A check for that same amount was sent by D. Jones & Associates, a political-consulting company run by Donald Jones.

As part of his plea deal in December, Jones also described $65,000 in payments that Moore’s opponent made to Smukler’s political consulting company, Voter Link Data Systems, which subsequently sent Cavaness $65,000 in disguised payments.

%d bloggers like this: