By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The head of the Philadelphia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, John McNesby, says he’s likely to run for the state senate. And a new court ruling could boost the size of his campaign warchest.
The US Court of Appeals has overturned a provision in the Philadelphia Home Rule charter that has, for years, prohibited city police from making personal political contributions.
That ruling this week may quickly help the political prospects of McNesby, the head of FOP Lodge 5. He says he is “likely” to run for the seat of Pennsylvania state senator Mike Stack, if Stack is elected lieutenant governor in November. And he says the ruling would directly benefit the FOP’s political action committee, which in turn would contribute to his campaign.
“We were approached to see if there’s any interest in that (Stack’s) seat. We are looking at it. We are looking at it heavily. And if it is a ‘go,’ then absolutely that PAC would be a major part of anything we can do,” McNesby said today.
The Nutter administration could still appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court. A spokesman for the mayor says only that the ruling is still being reviewed.
But if it stands, its timing could not be more opportune for McNesby as he prepares to enter the knock-down, drag-out world of Philadelphia politics.
“You know, they say timing is the spice of life. So I think it is a great time,” McNesby told KYW Newsradio. “Not that there’s much money in there (the PAC) yet. But we’ll see what happens down the line. Our hats are off, all in for (Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Tom Wolf and Mike Stack to win.”
(Dunn:) “Just so I’m clear, you have not made a final decision whether to run?”
(McNesby:) “I wouldn’t do that until after the governor’s election.”
(Dunn:) “But would you say it’s likely?”
(McNesby:) “I would say it is.”
The ruling strikes down a 60-year old provision of the Home Rule Charter barring political contributions by police. The ban was aimed at ending a decades-old Philadelphia tradition of police officers helping out ward leaders, often to the detriment of political challengers.
McNesby says that’s no longer an issue:
“Those days are long gone. It’s a new time. Time’s change, and it was time for a change with the charter.”
In addition to funding his own and other candidacies, McNesby says the FOP’s PAC would help fund lobbying in City Council, Harrisburg, and Washington for issues related to police officer benefits.
“We need a COLA (cost of living adjustment) for our retirees,” he said. “Our pensions are under attack. And this will help get our message across.”
McNesby says assuming the ruling stands, individual police officers would be asked to contribute a few dollars out of each paycheck to the FOP’s PAC.