Blondell Reynolds Brown' ex-campaign manager reaches settlement on ethics violations

John McDaniel pleaded guilty to stealing from Blondell Reynolds Brown's campaign and a political action committee.
John McDaniel pleaded guilty to stealing from Blondell Reynolds Brown's campaign and a political action committee.
Posted: February 27, 2013

John McDaniel, the former campaign manager for Blondell Reynolds Brown, who recently pleaded guilty to stealing $103,000 from her campaign and from another political action committee, reached a settlement agreement Monday with the Philadelphia Board of Ethics for violations of the city's election-finance laws.

McDaniel agreed to pay $12,450 over the ethics charges, but his fine will be waived if he is sent to federal prison for his guilty plea. His sentencing is scheduled for May 14.

The Ethics Board settlement says McDaniel contributed $4,600 to Reynolds Brown in 2011, $2,000 more than allowed. He made the contributions so her campaign fund would have enough cash to meet its obligations but he did not tell her that his giving exceeded legal limits.

McDaniel also omitted key information and made misstatements about spending for the Progressive Agenda PAC, which he also managed. That PAC was established in 2004 to support his candidacy for City Council, the Ethics Board settlement said.

Charles Gibbs, McDaniel's lawyer, said his client "is accepting responsibility for his actions, and the settlement agreement is yet another step in that direction."

Reynolds Brown could not be reached for comment.

In late January, she and her campaign committee, Friends of Blondell Reynolds Brown, agreed to a record $48,834 in Ethics Board fines and repayments for multiple violations, including taking excessive election contributions from Progressive Agenda PAC.

Her settlement also detailed how she used $3,300 in campaign funds to repay a personal loan from Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr., son of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.). She contends that McDaniel then falsely listed the loan repayment as a campaign expense for a printing company.

The Ethics Board settlement with McDaniel lists numerous other campaign-finance violations, including:

In 2011 and 2012, he gave Reynolds Brown a total of $3,750 in cashier's checks and checks drawn from his personal bank account to help her pay Board of Ethics fines for violations of the city's campaign-finance law. That violated a part of the city code that says people cannot make gifts to City Council members that might be expected to influence them.

On April 21, 2011, McDaniel wrote a check from Reynolds Brown's campaign account to Progressive Agenda for $1,000 to cover Election Day work in Germantown. McDaniel did not want Reynolds Brown to know whom he was using to do the work, so he said the money went to Progressive Agenda and then had that PAC pay the workers.

In 2012, after he became a city employee with the help of Mayor Nutter, McDaniel maintained control of Progressive Agenda PAC, though he knew that city workers are not allowed to engage in political fund-raising and certain types of political activity.

On March 8, 2012, McDaniel accepted and deposited in Progressive Agenda's account a contribution check of $42,000 from the Laborers District Council PAC. Progressive Agenda used the money to fund get-out-the-vote efforts in Philadelphia and surrounding counties and educational activities related to the Pennsylvania Voter ID Act. That violated a law barring city employees from soliciting or accepting political contributions.

Contact Miriam Hill at or 215-854-5520. Follow her on Twitter @miriamhill.

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