Politics and crime, intersecting in Philly

Posted: February 21, 2014

CLOUT TODAY explores the intersection of Philadelphia's political community and the criminal-justice system, paths that have been known to cross before.

It's been a busy week. Let's run down the interesting stuff:

* The Ironworkers Local 401 made news when 10 members, including business manager Joe Dougherty, were indicted on federal charges, accused of conspiring to torch and damage property when the union wasn't given jobs on construction projects.

Here, the Pennsylvania Republican Party saw an opportunity.

The GOP yesterday asked if John Kane, a Democrat running for a state Senate seat in Delaware County, will return a $7,500 contribution from Local 401.

One problem: state Sen. Ted Erickson, a Republican in Delaware County, took $500 from Local 401 last year. Erickson is retiring from the 26th District seat that Kane is seeking.

Local 401 gives more money overall to Democrats than to Republicans. But we found Republicans running for judge and serving in the state House who took the union's money in the last five years. State Sen. Dominic Pileggi, the Senate majority leader, from Delaware County, also took a Local 401 contribution.

Republican Party spokeswoman Megan Sweeney promised to get an answer to this question: Does the GOP want Erickson, Pileggi and other Republicans to also return Local 401's money?

And sadly that was the last we heard from her. She must still be out there somewhere, looking for our answer. Good luck, Megan!

* Distancing yourself from suddenly controversial campaign donations can present new woes.

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, one of eight Democrats running for governor in the May 20 primary election, donated $10,000 she got from Local 401 to charity after the indictments this week.

That didn't sit well with Pat Gillespie, business manager for the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council.

"Those monies come from people who work for a living," he said. "For a politician to do that shows how half-assed they are."

In August, Gillespie endorsed former state Environmental Secretary Katie McGinty for the Democratic primary. He said his Council members are "all over the place" with endorsements.

Dan Pellicciotti, a First Judicial District employee with ties to Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, this week dropped his plans to challenge state Rep. Pam DeLissio's bid for a third term in the 194th District.

Pellicciotti said his decision has nothing to do with his 2005 guilty plea in federal court for bribing an employee in the city's Minority Business Enterprise Council to gain access to city contracts.

"I knew that would come up, but it wasn't a factor," Pellicciotti said. "I've got a thick skin."

The state constitution bars felons from serving in elective office, specifically citing bribery as one of the "infamous crimes" that makes someone ineligible.

Lou Agre, the Democratic leader of the 21st Ward, which stretches from Manayunk to Roxborough to Andorra, was set to endorse Pellicciotti's campaign.

Dianah Gregory, 65, of Strawberry Mansion, was charged yesterday with fraud by election officers, tampering with records, criminal mischief and tampering with a voting machine during the Nov. 5 general election.

Gregory, who has worked as a Democratic election worker for the 28th Ward in past elections, is accused of following a voter into the booth and trying to write her own name in on the ballot for the position of judge of elections. The voter got upset and left while Gregory wrote in her name, according to the District Attorney's Office.

The 28th Ward is headed by City Commission Chairman Anthony Clark, who runs the agency that oversees city elections. Clark did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

The Republican City Committee hailed Gregory's arrest as proof of an "ongoing problem" with voter fraud and tampering.


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout

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