One of Philadelphia’s most powerful men is facing a possible criminal case for a bout of old-fashioned fisticuffs.
John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, a dominant figure in local politics, and business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 and Philadelphia Building Trades Council, is now under a microscope after the Inquirer broke the news that he allegedly punched a non-union worker during a construction site dispute.
The case is now being investigated by the state attorney general’s office, as Philly DA Seth Williams cited possible conflicts due to campaign contributions from Dougherty. AG Kathleen kane also won’t touch the case for the same reason.
The FBI may also be investigating, the Inquirer reported, based on reports that they requested surveillance video from a business owner near the site.
In an interview with PhillyVoice, Dougherty said an Inquirer story about the assault was “irresponsible” and “disingenuous,” and claimed he was acting in self-defense when he punched non-union contractor Joshua Keesee.
The fracas took place on Jan. 21 around 8:20 a.m. at a South Philly construction site near Third and Reed streets that Local 98 members have protested at in the past for employing non-union labor.
Accounts differ over the sequence of events, but Keesee reportedly had a Local 98 sticker on his car, which he was ordered to remove. When one Local 98 member started scraping it off, Keesee allegedly punched the man. A few moments later as the Local 98 members retreated, Keesee and Dougherty got into a verbal altercation which ended with both men throwing punches and Dougherty landing two blows on Keesee.
It’s unclear how much the incident will actually affect Dougherty, who has a reputation in Philly as a mayor-maker.
When not advocating for more state funding to go through IBEW to solar power projects, Dougherty has been known for blasting the city for the Salvation Army building collapse and calling former Mayor Nutter a “flat-out fraud” on Facebook in the collapse’s aftermath.
He is also the brother of newly elected state Supreme Court Judge Kevin Dougherty.