Federal authorities say Philadelphia Congressman Bob Brady agreed to pay $90,000 from his campaign fund to get a rival out of the 2012 Democratic primary.
Brady hasn't been charged, but prosecutors say in a court filing that he authorized a $90,000 money transfer to retire the campaign debt of his opponent Jimmie Moore, who dropped out of the race months before the primary.
The filing concerns the guilty plea of Moore's campaign manager, Carolyn Cavaness. The feds say the money was routed through two political consultants close to Brady who paid a company created by Cavaness. She used those funds to pay vendors of Moore's campaign, in addition to repaying money Moore had loaned to his campaign, according to federal prosecutors. She also allegedly used relied on the funds to cover personal expenses for herself and Moore. Cavaness pleaded guilty to filing campaign finance reports that concealed the payments.
Neither Brady nor Moore are identified in the the charging documents against Cavaness. Instead, they're called "Candidate A" and "Candidate B," but their identities are clear from the descriptions in text.
Brady and Moore never returned calls for comment.
Cavaness answered the phone at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Ardmore, Pa., where she is pastor and offered the name of her attorney, Anthony Petrone. He didn't return a call for comment.
Two political consultants long known to be close to Brady were contacted for this story. Both of their firms received payments from Brady's campaign committee in 2012. One, Don Jones, said he knew nothing about the allegations. The other, Ken Smukler, didn't return a call for comment.
A Philly.com story quoted Brady as saying, "You have to talk to Kenny," about the allegations, a reference to Smukler. "They did all that. That's five years ago. I don't remember none of that," Brady said.
It's not clear if Cavaness is cooperating with prosecutors, or if anyone else will be charged.
I spoke to two former prosecutors and three election lawyers and asked if it would be illegal for Brady to pay money from his campaign fund to retire an opponent's debt to persuade that person to drop out of race. None would speak for attribution, and most were uncertain about whether such an agreement would be a crime. One of the election lawyers thought it could result in a corruption-related charge.
Below is a Jimmie Moore campaign video from 2012