Lawsuit ends between Daniel McCaffery and city Board of Ethics

Posted: March 22, 2013

A long-running lawsuit between lawyer Daniel McCaffery and the city Board of Ethics ended Wednesday with the panel agreeing to pay $2,000 for an advertisement saying McCaffery did not act intentionally to violate the city's campaign finance law in his 2009 campaign for district attorney.

The lawsuit, filed in December 2009, accused the board and its executive director, Shane Creamer, of "frivolous, misleading, and false statements about McCaffery," made to "sabotage McCaffery's campaign, to embarrass McCaffery, and to tarnish his name and reputation in the eyes of the voting public."

Those allegations were based on a lawsuit filed by the board against McCaffery's campaign a week before the Democratic primary in May 2009. That lawsuit alleged that McCaffery's campaign "deliberately violated the city's campaign-finance law" in connection with its handling of a $10,500 donation from a political action committee set up by McCaffery's law firm.

The advertisement, scheduled to be published Thursday in the Legal Intelligencer, states:

"Dan McCaffery and The Board of Ethics have resolved their lawsuit. The Board of Ethics acknowledges that neither Dan McCaffery or his then-campaign treasurer acted intentionally or deliberately, or that any 'scheme' existed to violate City Campaign Finance law. It is acknowledged that the language the Board used in its May 2009 papers, which were filed in good faith, was inconsistent with its ultimate conclusions regarding the McCaffery campaign."

The law firm's PAC, known as the Pennsylvania Good Government Fund, delivered a $10,500 check to McCaffery's campaign in late January 2009, according to a settlement agreement signed in September 2009, between the Ethics Board and the McCaffery campaign.

But the McCaffery campaign tried to allocate the money between 2008 and 2009, reporting publicly that the campaign received $7,400 from the PAC in December and $3,100 in January.

A larger amount in 2008 would have exceeded the city's $100,000 limit on overall PAC contributions in a single year, and a smaller amount in 2009 left room for additional contributions later in the year.

"Based on its knowledge of federal campaign finance regulations, the McCaffery committee mistakenly thought such an allocation would be permissible under Philadelphia's campaign finance law," according to the September 2009 settlement.

The 2009 agreement said that McCaffery, his campaign treasurer, and the campaign did not intend to violate the city's campaign finance law. But it required the campaign committee to pay $1,500 in fines. In return, the board agreed to to drop the lawsuit.

Three months later, McCaffery sued the board. After a series of court proceedings focused on whether the case should be thrown out, it was scheduled for trial March 4.

Creamer noted that the resolution was consistent with the settlement agreement of September 2009 and did not require the board to pay damages or issue an apology.

McCaffery did not return a telephone call and his attorney, Dion Rassias, declined to answer questions over the phone.

McCaffery, brother of Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery, is running for a seat on Common Pleas Court in the May primary.


Contact Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or warnerb@phillynews.com.

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