Former campaign manager accused of defrauding Blondell Reynolds Brown

Posted: February 08, 2013

John D. McDaniel, former campaign manager for City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, was charged Wednesday with wire fraud, accused of stealing about $100,000 from Brown's 2011 reelection campaign.

U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger brought the charges in an information - a sign that McDaniel has waived his right to have the charges considered by a federal grand jury and expects to plead guilty, possibly cooperating with the government as its investigation proceeds.

McDaniel's attorney, Charles M. Gibbs, declined comment, and McDaniel did not return calls.

Well-known in the city's political circles, with close ties to the Laborers Union and connections to a series of candidates including Mayor Nutter, McDaniel landed in the midst of a very public controversy last week when the city Board of Ethics levied a record fine against Brown, outlining widespread irregularities in the financing of her 2011 campaign.

News reports focused on Brown's admissions that she used campaign donations to repay a personal $3,300 loan from Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr. - son of the Philadelphia Democratic congressman - and deposited $1,400 in campaign donations to her personal bank account. But the Ethics Board also described dozens of unreported contributions and expenditures, and more than $40,000 in unreported cash withdrawals.

The Ethics Board said McDaniel, 39, was the only person with the authority to write checks for the campaign. The federal information accuses McDaniel of diverting much of that cash, and almost $60,000 in other campaign funds, to himself.

Besides taking cash from ATMs and over-the-counter withdrawals, he wrote and cashed checks to himself and sent some of the Brown campaign's money to another PAC he controlled, the Progressive Agenda PAC, prosecutors alleged.

McDaniel concealed the theft by filing false and incomplete campaign finance reports, according to the information.

All the campaign finance reports were signed by Brown.

In an interview with The Inquirer this week, Brown said she had been "thrown off my game" by financial pressures related to her failing marriage, and did not give her campaign finances the attention they deserved.

After working for both Brown and Nutter in 2011, McDaniel was hired by the Nutter administration and put into an airport patronage job, paid $87,125 a year to run a volunteer program.

The Nutter administration fired him last week after the Ethics Board settlement was released. The dismissal was "imperative to ensure the integrity of our government and our personnel," the mayor said.

Campaign finance reports filed at the end of January showed that the government's integrity had already been compromised, however.

Two political action committees, both getting heavy financial support from the Laborers Union, reported $126,000 in payments to McDaniel while he was working at the airport - an apparent violation of the restrictions on political activity by city employees.

Contact Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or

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