Friday, February 19, 2021

Real Justice PAC Poured More Than $100,000 Into D.A.'s Campaign

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

District Attorney Larry Krasner has a cozy relationship with a West Coast political action committee that's become his biggest campaign donor.

The Real Justice PAC of San Francisco has been pouring cash, in-kind services and even rent money into Krasner's reelection campaign, to the tune of more than $100,000.

The only problem: the city of Philadelphia's legal limit on yearly contributions from PACs is just $12,600. That's why the city's Board of Ethics is monitoring the "Lawrence Krasner For District Attorney" campaign committee, and the contributions they've been raking in from the Real Justice PAC.

Because both the D.A.'s campaign committee and his favorite PAC are known offenders. Two years ago, the Board of Ethics finalized an agreement that called for both the Real Justice PAC and Krasner's campaign committee to fork over a total of $23,000 in fines and "disgorgements" [or forfeits] for breaking city election laws back in 2017 with donations over and above the city's legal limits. 

And now with Krasner running for reelection in the May 18th Democratic primary, both the Real Justice PAC and the D.A.'s campaign committee are at it again. According to Real Justice's filings last year with the Federal Election Commission, the PAC listed as campaign contributions to Krasner a $25,000 donation made on April 15, 2020, and a $50,000 donation made on July 30, 2020. 

But in financial reports that Real Justice PAC filed with the city, and in a financial report filed by the Krasner committee with the state, to date, both entities have only disclosed the $25,000 contribution. So the question becomes on which forms was Real Justice telling the truth? Was it with the city or was it with the feds?

Real Justice isn't talking; neither is Krasner nor his campaign committee. But J. Shane Creamer Jr., executive director of the city's Board of Ethics, is watching.

"I'm aware of all their public filings and I have no comment," Creamer said. 

There's a loophole that would enable Krasner to get around that $12,600 a-year limit on contributions from a PAC. Since Krasner didn't formally announce he was running for reelection until this month, Real Justice's contributions to the Krasner campaign last year fall under the classification of pre-candidacy donations.

That means any contribution Krasner receives over and above the $12,600 limit for a single year is supposed to be set aside in a special account, to be used for non-campaign expenses. That's opposed to any contribution over the legal limit that Krasner received while he was an official candidate. In that case, Krasner would have been required to return the excess contributions.

According to its website, the Real Justice PAC was founded to "fix our broken criminal justice system" by electing "reform" D.A.s across the country. 

In 2018 and 2019, Real Justice was Krasner's biggest campaign donor, donating $25,000 to Krasner in 2018 and another $9,000 in 2019, for a total of $34,000. In addition, two Real Justice PAC leaders made personal contributions to Krasner's campaign of another $9,000.

Where did Real Justice get its money? A major donor is Cari Tuna of Palo Alto, CA, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who's married to Dustin Moskovitz. Moskovitz, Mark Zuckerberg's roommate at Harvard, was a co-founder of Facebook who has a net worth estimated between $12 and $16 billion. 

According to data online posted by the Federal Election Commission, Cari Tuni has poured $2.25 million into the Real Justice PAC.

In 2020, the Lawrence Krasner for District Attorney collected a total of $161,984, most of it coming from out-of-state donors that included Friends at Work LLC of New York City, with $12,600; Susan Pritzker of San Francisco with $3,000; Patty Quillin of Santa Cruz, CA., with $3,000; and John Legend Music of New York City, with $3,000.

In contrast, Carlos Vega, a former homicide prosecutor who is Krasner's only opponent in the May 18th Democratic primary, took in $131,412 in just one month, December of last year, mostly from local donors. 

The biggest campaign contributors to the "Vega For DA" committee include Vega himself, who donated a total of $20,000 to his own campaign; FOP Lodge No. 5 of Philadelphia, with $12,600; the FOP PAC, with $5,000; the Philadelphia Fire Fighters and Paramedic Union, with $5,000; and the Sprinkler Fitters Local Union No. 692 PAC Fund, with $3,000. 

In 2020, according to their filings with the FEC, the Real Justice PAC not only contributed a total of $75,000 to Krasner's campaign, but the PAC also paid a total of $29,450 in rent to Tiger Building LP. 

According to Krasner's statement of financial interest filed with the city, the D.A. has a 40% stake in Tiger Building LP,  which owns the former Princeton Club located at 1221-23 Locust Street. On a phone list posted outside the building, the Real Justice PAC is listed as a tenant. 

The historic landmark building has an assessed value of $3,798,300. The building also comes with a current tax bill of  $53,168.60 that isn't due until March 31st.

In Krasner's annual statements of financial interest filed with the city, he didn't mention any rental income, or any other income from his real estate holdings in either 2018 or 2019. 

But Krasner doesn't necessarily have to declare rental payments as income. For example, the partners at Tiger Building LP could decide to say, set aside the rent money to pay off taxes. The rental income would only count as income if Krasner and his partner decide to take it as income. If they don't, they don't have to report it.

The Real Justice PAC is closely intertwined with the Krasner campaign. This year, Brandon Evans, the political director of the Real Justice PAC, is reprising his role as Krasner's campaign manager, which was a successful gig in 2017, when Krasner was first elected D.A. 

According to Krasner's campaign finance statement, on top of cash, Real Justice also donated $10,375 in "in kind contributions" to Krasner for "staff time."

On a state financial disclosure form, the Real Justice PAC lists Brandon Evans as the person they paid for "in kind staff time." However, on the PAC's filings with the FEC, Brandon Evans is not listed anywhere under expenses.

That begs the question: How could Real Justice pay Evans for in-kind staff time, when according to their own FEC filing he's not listed on their payroll?

As I mentioned previously, nobody at Real Justice is talking. PAC officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Real Justice and Krasner's campaign are so intertwined that they share a common vendor.

Real Justice paid Wren Collective, an Austin, TX communications consultant used by Krasner, $12,000 for services. Krasner's campaign committee also disclosed that they paid Wren a total of $36,000. The owner of Wren, Jessica Brand, is also a campaign contributor who donated $3,000 to Krasner's campaign.

Real Justice got so involved in the 2017 Krasner campaign that the PAC's extra contributions resulted in fines for both donor and recipient for violating the city's elections laws.

According to the city's Board of Ethics, the Real Justice PAC violated the law in 2017 by paying for three embedded staffers on the Krasner campaign. The expenses for the embedded staffers amounted to "in-kind contributions to the Krasner campaign totaling $34,820.08 in 2017, which was $11,020.08 in excess of the limits imposed by the city’s Campaign Finance Law."

That's according a settlement agreement with the ethics board that was signed by both Michael Reed of the Board of Ethics, and Rebecca Bond, the treasurer of the Real Justice PAC.

Bond, a co-founder of the Real Justice PAC, served as the PAC's advisor to both Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign and the 2018 Beto for Texas Senate Campaign.

She's also a partner at The Social Practice, which defines itself as "an ideologically driven political consultancy." And she's the co author of the manifesto, "Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything." 

In a May 22, 2017 press release, Bond bragged about the effect Real Justice's contributions and embedded staffers had on Krasner's victorious campaign. In the "fight to end mass incarceration," she wrote, Krasner's victory was " a massive earthquake."

"And Real Justice PAC was at the epicenter," she wrote.  "Real Justice PAC made the greatest contribution of any organization directly to the Krasner for District Attorney campaign. While there were many independent efforts, we placed three seasoned organizers inside the campaign, a bigger commitment than any other organization."

"In part as a result of their relentless efforts and experience with innovative technologies rarely used in a municipal race, they helped make it possible for volunteers to personally send over 160,000 text messages and make over 36,000 phone calls to the voters the campaign targeted as most needing to hear Larry’s message," Bond wrote.

"And while volunteers talking to voters was the soul of the campaign, every campaign needs funding, and Real Justice PAC also raised more than $36,000 directly into the Krasner campaign," Bond wrote. "This is a significant percentage of funds raised in a municipal race and it made a real difference because the money could be used directly by the candidate to cover the campaign’s most pressing needs."

Another co-founder of Real Justice PAC is Shaun King, a Black Lives Matter activist dubbed "Talcum X" by critics who questioned his claimed status as supposedly being biracial, because both of King's biological parents are white. [That led the resourceful King to claim that his mother had an affair with a black man who was his real father.]

Under terms of the settlement agreement with the Ethics Board, Krasner's campaign committee paid a $4,000 fine and gave the city $11,000 to compensate for the excess contributions that came from Real Justice PAC. According to the settlement, the PAC also agreed to pay an $8,000 fine to the city.

Real Justice's generosity could have been extended to paying the Krasner campaign's fines, but the Ethics Board closed that door. 

The settlement agreement, dated Feb. 27, 2019, stipulates that the Krasner campaign "shall not use funds received from Real Justice PAC, its officers, or affiliates to pay the penalties or disgorgement required by this Agreement."

Officials at Real Justice PAC did not respond to a request for comment on the $50,000 disparity between the campaign contributions to Krasner that they listed on federal and city disclosure forms. 

Officials at the Larry Krasner For District Attorney committee also did not respond to a request for comment. Additionally, both Krasner and Jane Roh, his official spokesperson, did not respond to a request for comment. 

In my emails, l asked Real Justice, as well as Krasner and the Krasner for D.A. campaign committee, about what safeguards, if any, have they had adopted this time around to make sure they don't run afoul again of the city's elections laws.

Right now, the answer to that question appears to be nothing. 

6 comments

  1. What a piece of slop this guy is

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for reporting on matters that most news organizations would not dare mention in passing. Perhaps Larry Krasner ought to run for DA... in san francisco.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The US Attorney's Office has top notch forensic accountants. I'm sure they are on it!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. All of this is so sad....How come Philly citizens tolerate this financial hijacking of the election of the District Attorney? Our ethics/integrity rules in city government need real power, strength and independence. ACCOUNTABILITY and TRANSPARENCY
    are for all public employees.

    ReplyDelete
  5. When You have a SCOTUS in the Tank, and won't deliberate on the Argument that the Election was conducted Unconstitutionally in Pennsylvania.

    The SCOTUS has been weaponized just as the DOJ and FBI have been.

    The Local Governments have been poisoned and they will spread and control the Population and Krasner will become the Standard of Criminals who will bend and shape the Law to their Evil Aims.

    The China Flu a Year from Now will be One of Many Forces used to Destroy American Society.

    It is obvious the Plan is to rewrite the Constitution.

    An Incoming AG, Merrick Garland, at His Confirmation Hearing Today has Sworn Allegiance to the Corrupt Democrat Machine.

    There was not one Question posed that asked for Garland's assessment of the Revised Criminal Justice System as practiced that is exacerbating crime by the Radicalized Justice System.

    The Dims will Model Russia and China until the Repubs take Control of the House in 2022 and restore a Semblance of Sanity.

    Jason Brando

    ReplyDelete

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