Philly's new mayor made it 8 whole months before the FBI began looking at him

Philadelphia elected a new mayor last November and I’m sure hopes were high for a prosperous and vital future in the City of Brotherly Love. But as usual, reality has to rear its ugly head in the form of a union official going by the endearing name of John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty. What’s that you say? How could there possibly be any sort of problems arising around a Philly union boss? My, my… you don’t get out much, do you? It’s some fairly standard stuff. (

The focus of a federal investigation into the powerful Electricians union and its leader, John Dougherty, became clearer this week with the seizure of a computer belonging to an agent of the state Attorney General’s Office.

According to the search warrant used in the seizure, federal agents are seeking evidence that union funds were embezzled and that contractors were intimidated by “use of economic fear.” The warrant also cites possible extortion by an unnamed public official.

This is looking like a messy one already. The feds weren’t just going after the union folks, but seizing the computer of an agent from the state AG’s office. There were also whispers going around of connections to other politicians, campaign finance questions, bribery and various nasty bits of business. So you’re wondering what this could possibly have to do with the mayor? Oh my… you really are new around here, aren’t you? This just in. (Philly Magazine)

This afternoon, Philadelphia magazine’s Jared Brey wrote that Mayor Jim Kenney’s alliance with electricians union leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty is looking worse and worse in light of the FBI investigation of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98.

In a matter of hours, things managed to go further south for Kenney.

NewsWorks’ Dave Davies broke the news that federal agents have requested documents from Kenney’s campaign committee.

To be clear, the Mayor hasn’t been charged with anything nor is there a firm source suggesting that such charges might be in the offing. This is all in the investigative stages at the moment. But you’ve got the unions and some Philadelphia Democrats in the mix with federal investigators asking for campaign finance documents. After having lived and worked in both Philly and South Jersey for a number of years when I was younger and following the news from that turf after that, let’s just say that I won’t be knocked over with a feather if this blows up entirely.

And why should any of us be surprised, really? Keep in mind that this is the same stretch of turf that elected Chaka Fattah, currently appealing his lengthy vacation in jail for dozens of counts of corruption. And it’s not as if Fattah was some sort of exception to the rule. See this list of 39 prominent Philadelphia politicians (a list composed of, I’m sure just by coincidence, almost entirely Democrats) who were investigated for corruption over just the past fifteen years.

Eventually we must return to asking the same old question which always seems to arise. It’s the same thing that Donald Trump seemed to be trying to get across in his ham handed way when he asked why people in inner cities wouldn’t give him a chance instead of doing the same things over and over. Why do the voters in Philadelphia and these other large, urban centers keep electing the same Democrats from the same pool of power brokers and expecting different results? Sometimes it’s not just cities, but entire states. Four out of the last seven governors of Illinois wound up going to jail. (Though to be fair here, one of them was a Republican.)

Don’t you just get tired of it after a while? Or at least a tiny bit embarrassed?