Councilwoman Carol Ann Campbell yesterday pledged to refrain from spending any money from the Democratic Party's two political-action committees until after Tuesday's primary, as part of a settlement with the city Board of Ethics.
Campbell, who is locked in a wild three-way primary battle for her Council seat, is also the party's secretary and a key ally of mayoral contender Bob Brady, the party chairman.
As part of the agreement, the officers in the two PACs, including Marty Weinberg and state Rep. Frank Oliver, also promised not to take any direction from her until after the primary.
But later in the day, Campbell said the agreement she signed was of no consequence to her, and she accused the Ethics Board of engaging in "a total conspiracy to bring down Bob Brady and the Democratic Party."
She accused the board, which is charged with enforcing the city's reinvigorated campaign-finance laws, with trying to "shut down the machine so we couldn't put our footsoldiers on the street Tuesday."
At issue is a provision in city campaign-finance law that limits candidates to one political committee. The candidate can receive contributions and make expenditures from just that committee.
Besides her own "Friends of Carol Ann Campbell" committee, the Ethics Board contended that Campbell was exerting influence as party secretary over the Democratic Campaign Committee PAC and the finance committee of the Philadelphia Democratic County Executive Committee PAC.
Campbell flatly denied making any spending decisions for those two PACs.
"They have no relationship to me. . . . If I wasn't making decisions, what difference does it make if I sign something that says I won't make decisions?"
But the Ethics Board had a different take on the matter after conducting its investigation and after taking a sworn deposition from Campbell.
"During the course of its investigation, the board discovered evidence including that Ms. Campbell has directed campaign contributions and other expenditures of the Democratic PACs to influence 'covered elections,' " the agreement said.
J. Shane Creamer Jr., the interim executive director of the Ethics Board, said the Finance Committee PAC made a $10,000 contribution to Friends of Carol Campbell in December, but there is no evidence that she personally directed that contribution.
The agreement was signed on the same day that the Daily News reported that the Pennsylvania attorney general was investigating allegations that Campbell has violated state election law related to campaign-finance-reporting requirements.
Campbell said she believes the investigation began with a complaint from her primary opponent, Matt McClure, filed with the district attorney's office and then referred to the AG's office.
In other developments, McClure annnounced yesterday that he had gained the endorsement of mayoral candidate Michael Nutter, who formerly represented the Council district. McClure has already been endorsed by mayoral candidate Tom Knox.
Curtis Jones Jr., Campbell's other opponent, has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, while Campbell has Brady's support along with the party organization. *