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Lawyer, corporate mover, political power broker: A look at David L. Cohen’s career

From Penn Law to Comcast to presidential host, it's been a busy four decades for one of Philadelphia's most powerful unelected officials.

David L. Cohen is his office as Comcast's executive vice president in 2005.
David L. Cohen is his office as Comcast's executive vice president in 2005.Read moreFile photograph

1981: Graduates summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Cohen later refers to Penn as his “number-one passion, other than my family and my job.”

1982: Arthur Makadon recruits Cohen to join the Ballard Spahr law firm.

1987: Cohen works as a press secretary to Ed Rendell’s failed mayoral campaign.

1991: Cohen serves as campaign manager for Rendell’s successful second mayoral run.

1992: Rendell hires Cohen as his chief of staff, making him the mayor’s right-hand man and chief strategist. Cohen spearheads the battle to save the city from near-bankruptcy, writing the five-year plan that charts the path for restoring the city to financial stability. The city goes on to post five straight years of budget surpluses.

1997: Cohen resigns from city government to become managing partner at Ballard Spahr.

2002: Cohen is named executive vice president of Comcast. He becomes a registered lobbyist and builds Comcast’s vast lobbying and public-relations operations.

2008: Cohen stops registering as a lobbyist, but continues visiting Washington to advocate for Comcast. Only employees who spend 20% or more of their work on lobbying have to register in Washington, and Comcast says Cohen doesn’t meet that threshold with his 18-hour days and wide array of responsibilities.

2009: Becomes chairman of the University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees.

June 30, 2011: Hosts a fundraiser catered by Stephen Starr for President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee, with tickets ranging from $10,000 to $38,500.

2012: Cohen raises more than $500,000 for Obama’s reelection.

January 2013: Cohen backs Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s reelection campaign, raising about $200,000.

July 2014: Cohen testifies before a Senate committee in favor of Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, saying the $45.2 billion deal would lead to innovation and consumer benefits. Comcast withdrew its proposal in 2015 in face of government opposition.

November 2014: Obama attends a fundraiser for Senate Democrats at Cohen’s home, joking, “I have been here so much, the only thing I haven’t done in this house is have seder.”

April 25, 2019: On his first day as a declared presidential candidate, Joe Biden visits Cohen’s home for a fundraiser with 150 guests.