A favor repaid, two decades later

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Marjorie Margolies has Bill Clinton on her side.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Marjorie Margolies has Bill Clinton on her side.
Posted: April 11, 2014

FORMER U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies, running for her old 13th District seat for more than 10 months now, this week finally had her coming-out party.

Former President Bill Clinton headlined two campaign fundraisers for her yesterday, just days after she made her first appearance with three Democratic foes in the May 20 primary election.

Margolies is pitching a narrative of political redemption in her bid for the seat she held for just one term, from 1993 to 1995. She was ousted from office after promising to not raise taxes and then voting in 1993 for a Clinton budget that did just that.

"On any one given day, one person, one member of Congress, can make a difference," Margolies said at one fundraiser. "I know. I lived that day."

Clinton started his stump speech promising that he would have come to Philly even if his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, were not married to Margolies' son, Marc Mezvinsky.

He then spent about 25 minutes meandering through a mishmash of politics past and present, spanning from the "trickle-down economics" of former President Ronald Reagan to the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, with rhetorical side roads on energy production, broadband Internet infrastructure, gender-pay disparity, raising the minimum wage and student loans.

He came back repeatedly to the 1993 vote, calling that an "ironclad assurance" of how Margolies will behave again in Congress.

"I have enormous confidence that Marjorie is in the best position to do the right thing in the future and that her record in the past is simply evidence of that," said Clinton.

The Margolies campaign said yesterday's events raised more than $200,000, although the checks are still being tallied.

She can use it. Margolies has trailed her primary opponents in fundraising while spending the bulk of her money for months on 10 campaign consultants.

The year's first-quarter finance reports are due Tuesday.

LeAnna takes stage

State Sen. LeAnna Washington was charged last month with two felonies after a grand jury accused her of using tax dollars to plan political fundraisers.

But there she was on stage yesterday with a bunch of elected officials and ward leaders, who took turns talking up Margolies while waiting for Clinton to arrive.

Washington didn't speak but former City Controller Jonathan Saidel, acting as master of ceremonies, noted her presence.

Traffic Court cattle call

Federal prosecutors last week asked a judge overseeing the trial of six former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges to compel 79 people to testify at their trial.

You read that right. Seventy-nine people. One shy of 80.

And what a list. We count 20 current or former Traffic Court employees of various ranks, five Democratic ward leaders, a former head of public safety at the Delaware River Port Authority, and an aide to City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.

Oh, and City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who yesterday declined to comment on the list.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, in the request, said it suspected the people on the list "will refuse to testify or provide other information on the basis of their privilege against self-incrimination."

A federal law allows a judge to compel that testimony if it "may be necessary to the public interest." That testimony then can't be used against the witnesses, unless they lie while testifying.

The local U.S. Attorney's Office received approval to make the request from the assistant attorney general of the U.S. Department of Justice's Criminal Division.

Former judges Michael Sullivan, Michael Lowry, Robert Mulgrew, Willie Singletary, Thomasine Tynes and Mark Bruno will stand trial on May 19 with businessmen Henry "Eddie" Alfano and Robert Moy.

The judges are accused of running a widespread scheme to fix tickets as political favors. Alfano and Moy allegedly were on the receiving end of ticket fixes.

Three other judges and a former court administrator have already pleaded guilty.

City Hall bids adieu

The people who work in and around City Hall gathered last week at a karaoke bar in Chinatown to damage their hearing and bid farewell to David Forde.

Forde spent 16 years working in City Council, calling it a "deeply rewarding experience."

Forde, who worked first for Councilwoman Happy Fernandez and then for Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, has always been politically savvy, quick with joke and generous with advice for younger staffers.

He is stepping down as Brown's chief of staff to become chief operating officer at Engagement Studios, a new agency specializing in advocacy, public relations, web design, advertising, photography and video production.


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout

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