Official suspended over allegations of political activity John McDaniel, an assistant managing director, had been accused in an unrelated case of stealing $13,000.

Posted: March 29, 2005

A Street administration aide who had been accused of stealing $13,000 from a nonprofit agency was suspended without pay yesterday pending a review of whether he violated the City Charter on an unrelated matter.

City Managing Director Philip R. Goldsmith said he took the action as he investigates whether John McDaniel, an assistant managing director, broke a rule that prohibits city employees from engaging in political activity.

"I've asked the inspector general to look into it further," Goldsmith said. "If it turns up there is no wrongdoing, he will be reimbursed."

Election records show that McDaniel, a city employee since 2000, the year Mayor Street took office, collected $450 in "consultant fees" from the 2003 campaign for Common Pleas Court Judge Lori A. Dumas. He was also paid $115.53 for providing "meeting refreshments" and $500 for a "petty cash" expenditure, records show.

Section 10-107 of the City Charter states that no city employee can "take any part in the management or affairs of any political party or in any political campaign."

McDaniel could not be immediately reached yesterday.

McDaniel's suspension comes as he is being considered for a promotion to director of labor standards, which could add $10,000 to his $75,000 annual salary.

In addition to concern over a possible charter violation, Goldsmith said he had questions concerning an allegation by the Pennsylvania Black Conference for Higher Education that McDaniel stole $13,000.

The organization said McDaniel was a volunteer when the money disappeared, between August 2000 and December 2001. At the time, he was deputy executive director of the Mayor's Office of Community Service.

Goldsmith learned about the accusation in a Feb. 23 report by city Inspector General William F. Gill.

According to that report, McDaniel contributed some of the money to City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown's campaign.

In May 2003, officials of the Pennsylvania Black Conference for Higher Education filed a police complaint against McDaniel. Detectives referred the matter to District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham in January 2004.

In October 2004, with the matter still unresolved, Abraham attended a community cleanup event, at McDaniel's invitation, on the street where McDaniel lives. McDaniel, of the 7600 block of Wyndale Avenue, is a block captain in his Overbrook Park neighborhood.

Abraham spokeswoman Cathie Abookire said officials from the Fire and Streets Departments and other city departments also attended.

A month later, the District Attorney's Office officially declined to prosecute. The office cited an August 2003 letter from the nonprofit stating that it no longer wished to pursue the case since McDaniel had repaid the $13,000 as part of a settlement agreement.

"The district attorney was not aware of any accusation" against McDaniel when she attended the event, Abookire said, because the matter did not rise to a level where she would be involved.

Contact staff writer Marcia Gelbart at 215-854-2338 or mgelbart@phillynews.com.

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