Philadelphia, which elects an unending stream of crooks to local, state, and national office, is a microcosm of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party.
Eleven-term U.S. Rep. Robert A. Brady, the leader of the party in Philly, decided not to run for reelection after being embroiled in a scandal over a reported payoff to a would-be challenger.
Chaka Fattah, who joined Brady in the House of Representatives more than 20 years ago, was convicted in June of federal racketeering and bribery charges. Fattah was sentenced to 10 years in prison and is due to begin his prison term shortly.
In state politics, here’s the rundown:
Vincent J. Fumo
For decades, Vince Fumo was the top Philadelphia Democrat in the legislature. But in 2009, a federal jury found that he had defrauded the Senate and two nonprofit organizations and staged a cover-up in a failed bid to thwart the FBI and federal prosecutors. Prosecutors said Fumo hired cronies for no-show state jobs, used taxpayer money to hire a private eye to spy on romantic and political rivals, and overpaid a big staff to illegally serve as his servants and political foot soldiers.
In 2011 he was sentenced to five years in prison. Fumo was released from federal prison two years later—or less than half of his original sentence—and began advising corporate clients on how to work the levers of government.
LeAnna M. Washington
LeAnna Washington, a Democrat who represented parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, pleaded guilty to felony conflict of interest charges in 2014. Prosecutors alleged Washington used her staff to plan her annual birthday party campaign fund-raisers from 2005 to 2013, using up to $100,000 in taxpayer money for political gain. A grand jury report said Washington berated her chief of staff when he questioned the propriety of ordering staffers to do political work on government time. “I am the f-ing senator, I do what the f- I want, and ain’t nobody going to change me,” she told him.
Ronald D. Waters, Michelle F. Brownlee, Louise Williams Bishop, and Harold James
The four Philadelphia Democrats were caught in a sting operation taking money or gifts from a lobbyist in exchange for official favors. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, also a Democrat, secretly ended the sting operation in 2013 without bringing any criminal charges. She said the investigation was poorly handled and biased in targeting African Americans. Kane was later convicted on separate charges.
Although city elections are a year off, local leaders have been notoriously corrupt over the years.
Seth Williams, the top prosecutor for the city, pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud.
The power behind these and other Democrats is John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, the business manager of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He has raised millions of dollars for Democrat campaigns and is now under federal investigation for the legality of those funds and other abuses of power.
On today’s ballot is a referendum to endorse a bond issue of $180 million in construction projects in Philadelphia. No doubt Johnny Doc and his cronies will get a sweet quid pro quo for all those years of backing a bevy of corrupt politicians in the home of the U.S. Constitution.
That’s who the Democrats are in Philadelphia and why I proudly vote—albeit without much hope for victory—for the Republicans every time.