PA Dem adviser (and former Axelrod partner) pleads guilty to corruption

You’re to be forgiven if you’ve never heard of Tom Linderfeld. He’s one of those career “political adviser” type fix-it guys that are always knocking around political circles at every level. Most recently he was an adviser to D.C. Mayor-elect Bowser. Before that he was one of Davidl Axelrod’s partners. But back in 2007 he was on the team of congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA2) when he was hoping to become the mayor of Philadelphia. And now he’s in some serious trouble.

Tom Lindenfeld, until months ago a close adviser to D.C. Mayor-elect Muriel E. Bowser, admitted to a political corruption charge Wednesday in federal court in Philadelphia, according to prosecutors there.

The felony charge of conspiracy to commit fraud is related to Lindenfeld’s efforts in 2007 to elect Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) mayor of Philadelphia. The conduct laid out in documents provided by federal prosecutors Wednesday does not mention Lindenfeld’s work for Bowser (D) or any other D.C. officials.

The charge carries penalties that include up to 20 years in prison, but Lindenfeld is certain to face less onerous terms under federal sentencing guidelines.

(Hat tip to CNS News)

Fattah is still in congress (and was just reelected on Tuesday) and while there are no charges against him currently, it sounds like the Feds are taking a long, hard look at him. The scheme described in the report is pretty complicated, as such things tend to be, but what Lindenfeld is copping a guilty plea to is some dirty business indeed. Allegedly he arranged for a $1M loan from a Pennsylvania businessman to fund Fattah’s mayoral bid. When it came time to pay up, they are accused of creating a complex scheme to misappropriate charitable contributions and federal grant money designated for environmental, green initiatives to repay it, covering their tracks with various bits of bureaucratic sleight of hand.

Having one politico like Lindenfeld be taken down isn’t all that newsworthy on the national level. But if he is cooperating and being offered a more lenient deal – as the report indicates – then the law could be within reach of bringing charges against Fattah, which would be huge. And if his dealings with the congressman were dirty, that draws attention to the rest of his work with not only Bowser, but two other D.C. Democrat mayors, Anthony Williams and Adrian Fenty. (And Axelrod as well?)

This is a “local news” story for the moment, but keep your eyes on it. This one has the potential to blow up in a very big way.