Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Philly 'con man' gets $25K cash infusion from Johnny Doc's union | Clout

Lewis Thomas III has a record of embellishing his resumé, which might figure to hurt his campaign for state representative in Philadelphia. But he got a $25,000 cash infusion from the powerful electricians union, Local 98.

Despite a controversial past, Lewis Thomas III — shown here in 2015 — is running to replace retiring State Rep. Curtis Thomas. He has the financial support of the city’s powerful electricians union.
Despite a controversial past, Lewis Thomas III — shown here in 2015 — is running to replace retiring State Rep. Curtis Thomas. He has the financial support of the city’s powerful electricians union.Read moreALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / FILE PHOTOGRAPH

It's easy to laugh off Democrat Lewis Thomas III's bid for state representative.

After all, this is a man best known for faking his resumé.

Thomas, who managed Teresa Carr Deni's unsuccessful 2017 campaign for district attorney, said he was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha. He wasn't. He said he had been an adviser to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He hadn't. He bragged about master's and a doctorate degree from Howard University. He didn't have them.

The list goes on.

In fact, Thomas has been pushed out of jobs and called a "con artist" because he's embellished his credentials so many times, according to multiple reports.

If you think all that means he doesn't have a prayer, though, think again. This is Philadelphia, the land of second chances — if you're politically connected, that is.

Thomas' campaign for North Philly's 181st District got an infusion of $25,000 from Philadelphia's powerful Electricians union, led by John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty. That's real money in a state House race.

Why would Doc throw so much cash behind Thomas?

One clue: Tommie St. Hill, a longtime political consultant for the Electricians, is Thomas' uncle.

Dougherty said he's "not really interested" in this year's General Assembly races. He is more focused on helping Gov. Wolf and congressional candidates win, he said.

But Dougherty said, "People who are good to us, we're good to," adding that St. Hill has "been working with us for over 20 years."

Thomas, too, acknowledged that his family ties helped him win Local 98's financial backing.

"Absolutely," he said. "He was essential to me receiving the support of Local 98."

Thomas also said the Electricians union is giving his campaign a boost because of his record of believing "that labor is an essential part of the fabric of Philadelphia."

As for his past, he previously acknowledged that he "made some mistakes" and "I take full responsibility for those things."

Ballard Spahr attorneys fund huge share of congressional hopeful’s campaign

The powerhouse law firm Ballard Spahr is playing a big role in a closely watched congressional race in the Philly suburbs.

Mary Gay Scanlon, a Ballard attorney who lives in Swarthmore, is considered a leading contender in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania's Fifth District. She's married to the firm's chairman, Mark Stewart. And former Gov. Ed Rendell, Ballard special counsel, has endorsed Scanlon and appeared in her television ad.

Records filed this week with the Federal Election Commission show how deep the firm's support goes.

Contributions from Ballard attorneys account for about 45 percent of the $254,000 Scanlon raised through March. That does not count the $150,000 she lent her campaign.

Joel Coon, Scanlon's campaign spokesman, said that she has led the firm's pro bono practice for the last 14 years. "So it is not surprising that a significant portion of her campaign funds come from people at Ballard Spahr who know her and trust her to be an excellent congresswoman," he said.

Ballard attorneys are generous to candidates on both sides of the political spectrum. The firm's employees have donated about $120,000 to GOP congressional candidates since 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Everyone's favorite cable/telecom colossus is also helping fund Scanlon's congressional bid. Clout has learned that Comcast senior executive vice president David L. Cohen held a fundraiser last week for Scanlon, who is a longtime friend of him and his wife, Rhonda. Cohen was Rendell's former chief of staff.

The Cohens have each contributed the maximum $2,700 to Scanlon's primary campaign.

Pro-Lazer super PAC drops $200K bomb onto congressional race

Super PACs are known for making — and obliterating — political campaigns.

They can spend an unlimited amount of money to influence races, as long as they don't coordinate with candidates.

That's why all eyes have been on a super PAC in Pennsylvania's Fifth District, which was recently launched by political juggernaut John Dougherty. Known as the "Middle Class PAC," it is backing Democrat Rich Lazer, a former top aide to Mayor Kenney with ties to the Electricians union. Dougherty has financed a string of successful super PACs in recent years, including for Kenney and U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle.

This week, the super PAC is airing its first TV ad, Clout has learned. It is spending a whopping $200,000 on spots on cable TV from Friday until April 29, according to a source familiar with political ad buys in the area.

That dwarfs the amount spent on ads so far by two other presumed leading candidates in the race: Mary Gay Scanlon and former assistant U.S. attorney Ashley Lunkenheimer.

AKPD Message & Media, the firm founded by former top Obama adviser David Axelrod, produced the spot.

The ad highlights Lazer's support for expanding pre-K and forgiving student loans. It also features lots of images of Lazer and Kenney.

A spokesman for the Lazer campaign declined to comment.

If the pro-Lazer super PAC keeps spending at this clip, it would pour nearly $600,000 into the race from now until primary election day — and even more if the group goes on broadcast TV.