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The Ernest Opinion: The company you keep

Mayor Kenney's association with union boss under federal scrutiny raises questions about what he's learned since the Fumo scandal.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Keenney.Getty Images

A new month, another embarrassing federal investigation. It's Philly politics as usual.

This time, Local 98 labor boss John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty is back in the headlines after the FBI raided his property last Friday. Councilman Bobby Henon, a former political director for the union, alsohad his City Hall office searched.

It’s unclear what exactlythe feds are looking for. However, the Philadelphia Inquirersuggestedthat the searches might be related to Doc’s role in the recent political campaigns of his brother, state Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, and Mayor Jim Kenney.

Inmy Election Day coverage last November, I had declared JohnnyDoc the true winner given his influence with his brother and the mayor.

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It was Doc’s union fundraising that benefittedKenney’s campaign fund and a PAC supporting him. Hissupport also played a role in getting the mayor’s sugary beverage tax passed.

In other words, Jim Kenney first eight months in office are tied directly toa man who is now and has in the past been under FBI scrutiny.(Doc was also investigated 10 years ago).

Let’s not forget the close ties that Kenney’s had with disgraced state Sen.Vince Fumo, the mayor's mentor who has been convicted in federal court on 137 counts ofcorruption. Kenney once served as Fumo’s aide and spokesman before running for office.

During his early years in office, Kenney was accused by some of his fellow politicos as being a discipleof “Fumocracy.” One example involved Kenney proposing to remove political contribution limits if a candidate donated $2 million of their own money. This was proposed byFumo before he was convicted.

Kenney toldPhiladelphia Magazinethe two haven’t spoken in seven years and that “the patching up of relationships does not include that one.”

After Fumo’s fall, you would think that Kenneylearned not to associate withbad company. But money talks in Philly. As much as I’ve taken issue with some of former Mayor Michael Nutter's policies in the past, he nevergot caught up in scandalous federal investigations.

When you’re the mayor of a major city with a reputation forpolitical corruption you can'teven a whiff of it to come near youryour administration. As a Philadelphian, I don’t feel confident that this investigation will go well for the city’s political image.

Aonce revered U.S. congressman, Chaka Fattah, has been convicted and lost the esteem in which he was once held. Ihope our mayor also doesn't lose our respect.

 
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