Saturday, December 11, 2021

Philly Board Of Ethics Sells Out To Larry Krasner & Frisco PAC

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net


To accommodate District Attorney Larry Krasner and his favorite West Coast PAC, the Philadelphia Board of Ethics just sold out the city.

Instead of holding Krasner and the Real Justice PAC accountable for their brazen and repeated violations of Philadelphia campaign finance law, the Board of Ethics has just doled out a couple of slaps on the wrist to our lawless D.A. and his favorite radical fundraisers from San Francisco. 

In the process of accommodating Krasner and his radical friends, the Board of Ethics has opened the floodgates for national PACS to invade the city's 2023 mayor's race, and allow outsiders to dictate who will become Philadelphia's next mayor.

Just like how, in two past elections, George Soros and Real Justice picked our D.A. for us. 

It's a real sell-out, although you won't read about it in the Inquirer. Because that newspaper typically functions as Larry Krasner's best friend, and the official PR outlet for the local, state and national Democratic party.

And what does the Board of Ethics have to say about their radical reversal of the city's campaign finance laws, and their decision to open the floodgates for national PACS to take over future local elections?

In response to my repeated questions lobbed at the agency that claims to be "promoting honesty, integrity and transparency in City government," J. Shane Creamer, executive director of the Board of Ethics, continues to stonewall.

The Board of Ethics used to have an annual limit on the amount a PAC [political action committee] could contribute to a local candidate; last year and this year, that annual limit was $12,600.

The Board of Ethics also had rules in place that specifically applied to any expenditure made by a campaign contributor who was working in concert or coordinating with a candidate's campaign committee.

Specifically, any campaign expenditure that was coordinated between a donor and a candidate's campaign committee automatically fell under that annual PAC donor's limit of $12,600 in goods and services.

But Krasner and Real Justice have a history of thumbing their noses at Philadelphia's election laws. 

In 2019, the Board of Ethics levied fines and forfeitures against the Krasner campaign committee and the Real Justice PAC for a total of $23,000. The fines and forfeitures were for not following Philadelphia's annual limit on campaign contributions from a PAC during the 2017 campaign, when Krasner was first elected D.A.

Undaunted, and in continued open defiance of that annual limit on PAC donations, the Real Justice PAC poured more than $100,000 into Krasner's reelection campaign in 2020, in the form of cash, in-kind payments made directly to campaign staffers, and rent money paid for office space rented at a Center City building co-owned by Krasner.

The response from the Board of Ethics was to do absolutely nothing. In the two Dec. 8th settlement agreements with the Krasner campaign and the Real Justice PAC, the Board of Ethics doesn't even address any of the excess 2020 campaign contributions that flowed into the Krasner campaign; instead, the Board of Ethics only dealt with contributions from this year that it claims did not comply with campaign finance laws.

This year, Real Justice was even more brazen, bragging online about how they had raised and donated some $1.3 million to Krasner's reelection campaign that resulted in a couple of landslide victories for the D.A. in the primary and general elections.

After the elections were over, instead of cleaning things up and enforcing the city's election laws, the Board of Ethics took a dive. 

On Dec. 8th, the Board of Ethics signed off on two settlement agreements that call for fining the Krasner campaign $10,000 and the Real Justice PAC $30,000, for a total of $40,000.

According to the settlement agreements, the Real Justice PAC billed the Krasner campaign for $48,165 in staff time. Of that amount, $31,492 was paid to Brandon Evans, Real Justice's political director who also served as Krasner's "embedded campaign manager," the settlements say, without Evans ever joining Krasner's campaign staff.

In a friendly interview with the Daily Democrat, er, the Inquirer, Creamer claimed that the campaign finance reports filed by the Krasner campaign and Real Justice were deceptive, and that's why both parties were fined. 

“There was no way for the public to know how the Krasner campaign was paying the PAC for staff, including its campaign manager Brandon Evans, and for other services,” Creamer told the Inquirer. “The disclosure errors by both the PAC and the Krasner campaign combined to cause a lack of public transparency about how the embedded staffers were being paid.”

Evans, who also managed Jim Kenney's last campaign for mayor, didn't see the fines as any big deal.

“To put these errors in context, the campaign received over 25,000 contributions during the campaign totaling over $1.3 million,” Evans wrote in a statement to the Inquirer. “It [the campaign committee] provided extensive and timely finance reports, including one that spanned 157 pages. The fines constitute approximately .5% of the total raised, spent, and reported by the campaign. Obviously, we regret any errors that were made.”

A total of $40,000 in fines amounts to chump change for a PAC that pumped some $1.4 million into the Krasner campaign over the past two years when the old limit on PAC donations over that two-year period would have been $25,200.

More ominously, in approving the two settlement agreements, the Board of Ethics rubber-stamped a new contract between the Krasner campaign and the Real Justice PAC signed last January that four years into their joint partnership, allows both of them to legally redefine their relationship. 

Between 2017 and Jan. 19, 2021, Krasner was a political candidate for Philly D.A. and Real Justice was a PAC from San Francisco that raised money for Krasner. And both parties operated in Philadelphia under that $12,600 annual limit on the amount of money that any PAC could donate to a single local political candidate.

But according to the two settlement agreements, on Jan. 20, 2021, the "Krasner campaign and Real Justice PAC entered into an agreement whereby Real Justice PAC staff would perform work for the Krasner Campaign, paid for in advance by the Krasner campaign."

In other words, Real Justice is now just a vendor to the Krasner campaign, a vendor that was free to collaborate all they want with the Krasner campaign on contributions and expenditures, without having to worry about any local limits on campaign donations. 

The end result -- because of the two settlement agreements the Board of Ethics signed with the Krasner campaign and the Real Justice PAC, there is now absolutely no limit on how much the PAC can pump into Krasner's campaign when he runs for reelection in 2025. 

And in the future, such as the 2023 mayor's race, national PACs now have the blueprint on how to buy our local elections, just like Real Justice did for Krasner.

In August, Creamer refused to answer any of my questions about the over-the-top contributions from Real Justice that were flowing into the coffers of the Krasner campaign over the past two years, and why the Board of Ethics wasn't doing anything about it.

At the time, Creamer apparently didn't want to say that the Board of Ethics was conducting an investigation. Ok, so now that the investigation's over, and the board has announced its findings, why can't Creamer talk?

Creamer, like many public officials used to being coddled by the Inquirer, got upset over having to answer some tough questions, so he resorted to claiming that Big Trial was biased against him. 

So while Creamer had time to talk to the friendly Inquirer, he did not respond to my questions about the Dec. 8th settlement agreements that the Board of Ethics struck with the Krasner campaign and Real Justice, and their radical implications for future local campaigns.

So I wrote to a dozen board members and staff at the Board of Ethics, the agency that claims to be "promoting honesty, integrity and transparency in City government," to put them on notice that their executive director was stonewalling. 

Here's what I wrote:

"Nowhere in either Settlement Agreement does the Board of Ethics address the glaring, tractor-trailer, sized loophole the Board has now codified into the Philadelphia Campaign Finance Regulations," I wrote.  "The board has told all future candidates and independent expenditure committees that coordination between the campaign and candidate is permissible."

"Your board has created a roadmap for PAC's to simply call themselves vendors, sign a contract and then direct all their donors to contribute directly to the candidate," I wrote. "In turn, the PAC can control and staff the campaign, maintain power over the money and spending decisions, while having the added benefit of extensive coordination and not running afoul of the Board of Ethics."

"This is not tenable," I wrote, because by signing off on the settlement agreements with Krasner and the Real Justice PAC, the Board of Ethics just gave its stamp of approval to the shell game run by Real Justice and Krasner.

Instead of collecting donations for Krasner as they usually did, this year, bundling those donations and sending them off to the candidate, Real Justice simply directed their donor list, through email and social media, to make direct contributions to the bank account for the Krasner campaign.

In the meantime, "Real Justice maintained control of the money since they were running Krasner's campaign," I wrote. It's the "very essence of a loophole."

To prove this point, the Real Justice PAC went online to brag about their open collaboration with the Krasner campaign. The day after the primary election, Real Justice put out a statement that proclaimed, "We [the Real Justice PAC] raised $1.3 million from 22,422 donors." 

Just four days later, on May 23, 2021, Shaun King, on behalf of Real Justice PAC, emailed Real Justice's entire donor list:

"Check it out below, and then we’re going to ask you to help us out once more," King wrote. "Because the truth is, our fundraising is way behind where we want it to be right now — about $20,189 to be precise."

"We poured EVERYTHING into Larry Krasner’s race," King wrote. "For about three weeks straight, we drove volunteers and donations almost exclusively to his campaign. And we have a LOT of other big elections coming up that we need to prepare for."

"Take a minute to watch Shaun's message here,'' the PAC wrote. "And then please rush a $3 donation to kick off our month-end fundraising push. We need to raise $20,189 in the next 8 days."

As I wrote the Board of Ethics, "Again, this raises some logical questions. Why is the Board of Ethics allowing the Krasner campaign and the Real Justice PAC to redefine a relationship that previously existed between 2017 and Jan. 19, 2021 as a campaign committee and a PAC?"

"With the mayor's race coming up in 2023, the Board of Ethics has apparently obliterated the campaign finance regulations that prohibit PACS from coordinating with candidates," I wrote. "By your actions or inactions, you are inviting national PACS to come in and redefine themselves as vendors while maintaining control over how to spend the donated money and coordinating and directing the candidate's message."

"These are radical changes" in the way city elections are run, I wrote. "The public deserves an explanation as to why."

"Your website claims that the Board Of Ethics is 'promoting honesty, integrity and transparency in City government,'" I wrote. "But stonewalling a reporter when he's raising legitimate questions about your actions is the opposite of transparency."

"And allowing national PACs to come to Philadelphia and pour unlimited money and resources into our local campaigns seems to me will have the opposite effect of promoting honesty and integrity in city government."

After my email barrage yesterday to a dozen staff and board members of the Ethics Board, Creamer was finally prodded into action. 

And the result was another dodge.

"I disagree with your mischaracterizations about the law and the facts and choose not to engage in a debate with you about them," Creamer wrote.

"I'm not looking for a debate," I countered, "but you owe the public an explanation."

"Right now, you're continuing to stonewall. That's the opposite of promoting honesty, integrity and transparency in government."

When I emailed him again asking to explain how the shell game pulled off by Krasner and the Real Justice PAC in the last election wasn't a blatant attempt to get around the city's campaign laws, the jig was up. 

Shane the sellout had no response. 

Yo Shane, we're still waiting for that explanation. 

6 comments

  1. Like The Inquirer, the DNC, other formerly progressive, liberal organizations, and once neutral watchdog groups, the Board is firmly under control of the oligarchs and the 1%.
    These organizations have evolved to become enablers and protectors for the very, very rich, who control everything.
    The rich corrupt and employ pay to play politicians like Jim Kenney, Joe Biden, others to legitimize their vast, growing power.
    Sadly, we have lost our democracy.
    While I like Nutter, we should recall he led Bloomberg's presidential campaign. Tax avoiding Trump-like Bloomberg, who was a Republican, then an Independent, then a Democrat, spent $500M on trying to buy local votes by giving money to various local organizations.
    As long as these vile, rich, shameless gonifs have such vast wealth, we have no democracy.
    Bloomberg Media admitted the Chinese government are nazis, but still aggressively pursued business interest with these nazis:

    - New NPR article delves into how Bloomberg's founding Editor-in-Chief deliberately killed an investigative story on wealth accumilation by the Chinese Communist party elites, including Xi Jinping.

    - Bloomberg News threatened to sue and fired their China correspondent who was investigating the CCP.

    - Bloomberg killed the story

    - Bloomberg even tried to force the wife of the correspondent to sign an NDA. Some of the demands made by Bloomberg on the wife were to never criticize Bloomberg or its officiers and Bloomberg reserved the right to sue her.

    - Bloomberg feared the CCP would kick Bloomberg out of China, resulting in Bloomberg losing their lucrative terminals. Bloomberg terminals have a yearly subscription fee of $20K . They provide financial data and analysis.

    - Bloomberg founding editor-in Chief Matthew Winkler referred to the CCP as Nazis, in a private teleconference call with senior news executives in NYC and China and the investigative team . NPR has obtained this recording.

    "It has to be done with a strategic framework and a tactical method that is ... smart enough to allow us to continue and not run afoul of the Nazis who are in front of us and behind us everywhere," Winkler said, according to the audio reviewed by NPR and verified by others. "And that's who they are. And we should have no illusions about it."

    - Mike Bloomberg was in on this. He denied the story was killed despite knowing otherwise. He alluded to the investigative team as "bad apples" . He supported Bloomberg news towing the CCP censorship line

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  2. I've been saying for years that PAC'S should be outlawed, however, that won't happen because the people making the laws are the ones benefitting from them. I believe that it is safe to say that every politician in the country has received money from a PAC. Our elected officials created this monster and unfortunately it is here to stay.

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  3. Not surprised considering Rich Glazer current Krasner Chief of Staff used to be Creamer's boss. Reeks Corruption!! Can the Feds step in Ralph?

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    1. Is he related to Glazer who interviewed the Traffic Court Judges under the pretense the info was for the Supreme Courts eyes only, only to have it appear as front page news at the INKY?

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  4. Interesting question. Sure seems like the locals are going to rubber-stamp everything Krasner the corrupt radical Ideologue wants to do.

    Even though people are dying, and Kenney professes to care, he doesn't want to offend Krasner and his progressive base.

    Outlaw is a mouse under house arrest while serving Kenney.

    The media is in Krasner's back pocket.

    That leaves only the feds who could step in and clean this up. But if they didn't do something when Trump was president and McSwain was U.S. Attorney, it doesn't seem likely that they'd do something now.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed. Meanwhile, the murders continue.......

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