Feds: Ex-PAC man for pol a con man

Posted: February 08, 2013

JOHN McDANIEL, the man ensnared in a campaign-finance controversy with City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, was charged Wednesday by federal prosecutors with stealing from her political coffers.

McDaniel, who was Brown's campaign manager when she sought a fourth term for her at-large seat in 2011, is accused of stealing about $100,000 from her political-action committee.

McDaniel waived his right to have his case presented to a grand jury, typically a sign that a defendant will negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors.

That prompted a question Wednesday in the city's political class: What does McDaniel have to offer federal prosecutors?

McDaniel's attorney, Charles Gibbs, declined to comment.

Sources tell the Daily News that federal investigators have been asking questions about McDaniel, Brown and Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr., son of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah.

Brown's political reputation was rocked last week when the city's Board of Ethics announced that she had admitted to a series of campaign-finance violations that included using funds from her political-action committee to repay a $3,300 personal loan to Fattah Jr.

McDaniel created a "fictitious expenditure" to make that payment look like a campaign printing bill, the settlement said.

Brown, who also admitted depositing campaign cash into her personal account, agreed to pay a fine of $48,834.

The Board of Ethics said that Brown "voluntarily disclosed" the Fattah Jr. loan repayment in April. That was one month after FBI agents seized records and a computer at Fattah's home and office.

Brown and her attorney, Abbe Fletman, declined to comment.

Prosecutors charged McDaniel with one count of wire fraud, accusing him of taking cash from Brown's account at ATMs, writing checks to himself and funneling money through the Progressive Agenda PAC, another political-action committee that he controlled. He is also accused of filing false and incomplete campaign reports and creating fake expenses.

McDaniel was a paid consultant for Mayor Nutter's campaign for a second term in 2011.

Nutter hired McDaniel in 2012 for a new $87,125-per-year job managing volunteers at the Philadelphia International Airport.

Nutter fired McDaniel last week, after the Board of Ethics report was released.

In 2005, during Mayor John Street's second term, McDaniel had to quit as deputy city managing director for violating a city-charter ban on political activity.

Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said the mayor did not know that McDaniel was under investigation by the Board of Ethics or federal investigators until those probes were made public.

Campaign-finance records show that McDaniel continued to be paid in 2012 by the Progressive Agenda PAC and another political-action committee, both heavily funded by the Laborers District Council, which represents union construction workers.

McDonald also said that Nutter reviewed what happened in 2005 and "made it clear that if he was going to have a job at the airport, in no way could he engage in political activity. When we found out he had done precisely that, he was terminated."

- Staff writer Jan Ransom

contributed to this report.


" @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: phillyclout.com

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