Reporting Mike Dunn
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By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An ethics scandal involving a longtime member of Philadelphia City Council is growing, with a federal charge being brought this morning against her campaign manager.
A little more than a week ago, city councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown was hit with more than $20,000 in fines and required to pay another $20,000 in restitution over campaign finance violations dating back to 2010 (see related story).
About a day later, longtime Reynolds Brown associate John McDaniel was fired by the city (another related story). McDaniel was repeatedly named in the Ethics Board probe of Reynolds Brown.
Today, McDaniel, 39, of Philadelphia, was charged in a federal “information” with one count of wire fraud for allegedly stealing $100,000 from a campaign committee.
An “information,” rather than an indictment, indicates that the defendant is cooperating with authorities and intends to plead guilty.
McDaniel, the former campaign treasurer for Reynolds Brown, was recently fired from his city-paid airport job after the city Board of Ethics identified numerous reporting irregularities by McDaniel in the campaign’s required city filings.
According to the information, between 2009 and 2011 McDaniel used several methods to routinely, and at times without authorization, withdraw funds from the committee account, using those funds for his own purposes and “other purposes.”
At times, it is alleged, McDaniel wrote and cashed checks to himself, and wrote checks to “Progressive Agenda,” a political action committee which he controlled, from which he then took stolen funds.
It was further alleged that McDaniel concealed the theft by filing false and incomplete campaign finance reports.
McDaniel’s attorney, Charles Gibbs, had no comment. Reynolds Brown’s chief of staff said the councilwoman also has no comment at this time.
The ethics board had found that Reynolds Brown had used campaign money to repay a loan made to her by Chaka Fattah Jr., son of the congressman, who has been a political mentor to Reynolds Brown.
Reynolds Brown has been on Council since 2000, and last year was elevated to the post of majority whip.
If convicted, McDaniel faces a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment, five years’ supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.