Mayor Jim Kenney, State Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty and Councilman Bobby Henon

Mayor Jim Kenney, State Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty and Councilman Bobby Henon

Billy Penn and state Supreme Court

The FBI, Jim Kenney and Philly’s most political union: What we know, what we don’t

It’s been almost a month since federal investigators raided IBEW Local 98 leader John Dougherty’s South Philly home and a slew of other locations connected to the union. And, in full late-August Friday-news-dump form, we learned late last week that the same probe has ensnared the campaign of new Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, eight months in. We know, thanks to agents toting boxes out of city offices, that an investigation is open and active. But plenty of mystery remains.

So far, here’s what we know and what we don’t know about the investigation.

What We Know

  • The FBI and the IRS are investigating IBEW Local 98 for misuse of union funds. The Inquirer reported a focus of the investigation was its role in the political campaigns of Mayor Jim Kenney and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty.
  • They have raided Local 98 leader John Dougherty’s home, the offices of Local 98 board member and City Councilman Bobby Henon, the Local 98 headquarters, an IBEW training facility, Doc’s Union Pub (a side business, one that’s also been on the receiving end of campaign funds) and the home and business of James Moylan, the chair of the Zoning Board of Adjustment and a former Local 98 consultant.
  • The list of others who have been raided: Local 98 president Brian Burrows, Local 98 political director Marita Crawford, Local 98 apprentice program leader Mike Neill and Michael Mazzucca, a plumber and Democratic committee member of the 1st Ward.
  • Federal investigators subpoenaed records from Jim Kenney’s campaign earlier this month; the timeline is unclear, but that demand appears to have occured after the raids at Dougherty’s home and other union locations. Local 98 contributed $550,000 to Building a Better PA, a PAC that helped bankroll Kenney during the 2015 mayoral election. Kenney’s communications director, Lauren Hitt, said Kenney has not been interviewed by the Feds. Kenney said the records sought included campaign finance filings and receipts.   
  • According to the Inquirer, the warrants used for raiding Moylan and the other Local 98 leaders sought evidence for the possibility of extortion by an unnamed public official, embezzlement of union funds and intimidation of contractors.
  • Investigators also seized the computer of an agent in the state Attorney General’s office, Joseph Ralston. Ralston has previous ties to Henon and Local 98. The warrant sought communication between Henon and Ralston, and agents were reportedly looking for evidence of embezzlement of union funds and intimidation of contractors.
  • Dougherty wrote a letter to union members saying the investigation wasn’t about him but Local 98 in general. He wrote if it were just him he’d “retire today and save our union any additional headaches.” He also wrote that he thought the Feds were targeting the union because of their success in helping get Kenney elected.
  • Local 98 has contributed about $30 million to numerous politicians and political causes since 2000. These donations have gone directly to politicians, from former Mayor Michael Nutter to nearly every City Council member, and to PACs, such as Building a Better PA.  
  • The investigation has been going on for two years.

What We Don’t Know

  • The specific misuse of Local 98’s funds that the Feds are investigating.
  • The specific records the Feds sought from Kenney. His office would only say he is complying with the request; Kenney told the Inquirer it was campaign filings and receipts, most of which were online.
  • The reason why Henon’s office was raided. He has not commented about the situation.
  • Whether other politicians’ campaigns that are connected to Local 98 have been investigated.
  • The identity of the public official tied to extortion in the search warrants
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