PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An FBI special agent outlined wiretap recordings that captured Philadelphia labor leader John Dougherty and city Councilmember Bobby Henon as their federal bribery and corruption trial continued Monday. It is about the content about these wiretapped calls intercepted by the FBI between Dougherty, Henon and even the Philadelphia mayor all surrounding the politicking of the 2016 soda tax.
Testimony Monday showed a labor boss leveraging his relationship with a city councilmember to bring pressure and exert influence, an alleged “with us or against us” mentality in the ongoing alleged bribery and corruption trial of Dougherty and Henon.READ MORE: First Confirmed Cases Of COVID-19 Omicron Variant Reported In Philadelphia, New Jersey
The jury heard wiretapped phone calls from 2016 between Dougherty, Henon and the mayor mapping out how to implement a sugary beverage tax — something strongly opposed by the Teamsters.
Henon on a 2016 call with Dougherty referred to City Council President Darrell Clarke as “narrow.”
“(Clarke) just does things himself. He should be bouncing things off of you,” Henon said on the call with Dougherty. “He needs you.”
The pair was captured discussing how to amass political support for the controversial tax sold to the public as a way to fund universal pre-K.
On a call the FBI was listening in on, Mayor Jim Kenney is heard telling Dougherty about the opposition.
“(Expletive) Teamsters, they don’t have a clue,” Kenney said on the wiretapped call, continuing the soda tax is “paying more for Parks and Recs than even pre-K.”READ MORE: Family Of Fallen Delaware County Firefighter Has Mortgage Fully Paid Off
Moments later the FBI says Dougherty then called Henon, saying, “I just had a great conversation with him. Jimmy (Kenney) was just, uh, he was really, really good.”
But even the mayor wasn’t beyond criticism with Henon urging Dougherty to tell the mayor he had to sell the soda tax to City Council, saying “tell him he needs to knock out the council chamber address, he needs to be the mayor for like more than 10 minutes.”
The Office of Mayor Jim Kenney provided this statement to Eyewitness News, “We’re not going to comment on the specifics of the call. The Philadelphia Beverage Tax (PBT) began with identifying the needs — poverty, an inadequate education system, and struggling neighborhoods — and then sought a funding mechanism that was the least onerous to taxpayers. The benefits of the programs the tax funds — providing quality pre-K for thousands of kids annually, creating 17 Community Schools serving 9,500 students, and investing hundreds of millions of dollars in our aging parks, recreation centers, and libraries through the City’s Rebuild initiative — are the only reasons the Administration implemented the Beverage Tax.”
Clarke’s office declined to comment.
Dougherty is accused of employing Henon in Local 98 in exchange for his official action on projects beneficial to the labor leader.
The soda tax is one of nine alleged schemes the government is walking jurors through.MORE NEWS: Mother Of Ahmir Jones, Teen Killed Protecting Girlfriend During Robbery Near Temple University, Speaks Out
Dougherty and Henon vehemently deny doing anything illegal and say zero crimes have been committed.