POLITICAL consultant

Ken Sny-der

this week became the owner of a townhouse at Front and Christian streets. All because of his religion.

An explanation: In December 2000, Snyder made a deal to rent the place. He arranged with the agent, Paul Bagherpour of Woodbury, N.J., to pass on his security deposit to the owner and to pick up his keys.

But Bagherpour called later with an odd question: What was Snyder's religion?

When Snyder said he was Jewish, there was an awkward silence. The agent said he was "just curious" and hung up.

The next day, Bagherpour called Snyder's wife, Jackie, to say that the owner had changed her mind and planned to rent to another applicant.

Bagherpour denied the decision had anything to do with Snyder's religion. He said the owner, a psychiatrist named Tawoos Bazargani, was concerned about the Snyders' dog, a half-Lab, half-shepherd mix named Wrigley, after Snyder's favorite ballpark.

But Snyder already had agreed to an extra month's security deposit in case Wrigley misbehaved.

Snyder told a pal, PR man Larry Ceisler. Ceisler called Bagherpour and asked why he'd inquired about Snyder's religion. Bagherpour said that he wanted to tell the Snyders where the closest synagogue was located.

Ceisler then asked: "Where is it located?" The agent stammered for an answer, Ceisler remembered, then said it was "downtown."

Snyder was forced to find another place. He eventually asked Bazargani and Bagherpour to reimburse him for some of his rental expenses, about $3,000.

They refused. The Snyders filed complaints - first with the city Human Relations Commission, which ruled in the Snyders' favor, then in federal court.

A panel of federal arbitrators recommended a $10,000 settlement. The defendants refused.

"My client felt he hadn't done anything wrong and it was hard for him to understand why he should pay anything," said Bagherpour's attorney, Ronald Beifeld.

A U.S. District Court jury awarded the Snyders $90,000 in damages plus legal fees.

The defendants appealed to the 3rd Circuit, which affirmed the verdict. They then tried to get the case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined.

Snyder's lawyers, Thomas Groshens and Thomas Sprague, dealt with every motion, every appeal. In 2007, Senior U.S. District Judge John P. Fullam took up the lawyers' fee request for $180,000 and halved it, to $90,000, plus $7,000 in expenses.

Bagherpour and Bazargani, who could not be reached for comment, had earlier posted an $80,000 deposit required for them to appeal.

But they failed to pay any more, so the Sprague firm asked the U.S. Marshal's Service to seize the property. Snyder showed up for the auction last week, to make sure the purchase price would cover what he was owed, and paid $160,000 for the property.

He said he plans to fix it up, for either sale or rent.

Longshot Republican: No respect

Mike Livingston is a law professor at Rutgers-Camden. Graduated from Yale Law just like famous Democrats Bill and Hillary. Except he's a Republican who's running against Chaka Fattah for Congress.

Make that "was running."

Last week, Livingston quit the race.

He says GOP elected officials and the party apparatus had little interest in helping a guy fight uphill in a Democratic district.

And that the national Republicans are so scared of a Democratic landslide in November, they are focusing on all their resources on protecting incumbents.

"There's not much charity in lifeboats," Livingston, from Cheltenham Township, told us.

"I can't think of a single Republican elected official who returned my phone call," he said. "Not [U.S. Sen. Arlen] Specter, not [U.S. Rep. Jim] Gerlach not the [Montgomery] county commissioners.

"I felt like the guy who couldn't get a date in high school," he said.

He reached out to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee and other groups to ask about fund-raising help and candidate training, and "they always seemed to direct me to the youngest person in the office."

When he asked the RCCC to put him in touch with donors, "they would sort of change the topic or say, 'That's not gonna work for you,' " Livingston said.

The last straw came on May 28, when Specter and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell held a rally to show support for local candidates. Livingston wasn't invited.

Vito Canuso, chairman of Republican City Committee, said that once Livingston filed a formal withdrawal with the secretary of state, the party would take steps to find a replacement.

Governors here next month

All 50 of the nation's governors are coming to town for the 100th annual meeting of the National Governors Association.

Gov. Rendell is vice chairman of the group and will be elected chairman for 2009 at the four-day session, July 11-14.

Although it's not yet on the schedule, we'd be surprised if presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain don't stop by the centennial meeting.

A number of former governors also have been invited as the group reflects on the role of governors in shaping public policy.

"Philadelphia, with its rich and significant history, is the perfect place to bring everyone together to highlight our vision for the next 100 years," said NGA senior press secretary Jodi Omear.

Obama here tonight

Hillary Clinton supporters who say they'll follow her lead and back Barack Obama get a chance to put their money where their mouths are tonight at back-to-back fundraisers at the Sheraton Hotel, 16th and Race streets.

The big event is a dinner for about 75 major donors, with the cash going to the Democratic National Committee. Contributions up to $28,500 are accepted.

After that, several hundred will gather for dessert and more modest contributions to the Obama campaign, within the federal maximum of $2,300.

The Anointed One is expected to arrive late for dinner and leave early from dessert, then stay over for a town meeting tomorrow.

Among the early donors: Ubiquitous TV pundits James Carville and Paul Begala.


"You can never quite imagine the mixture of relief and joy and pride that your parents are experiencing today. So this would be a very opportune time to ask them for money." - Gov. Rendell, delivering the commencement address at Susquehanna University. *

Staff writers Bob Warner and Gar Joseph contributed to this report.

Have a news tip? Gossip? Suggestion? Contact Gar Joseph at clout@phillynews.com, call 215-854-5895, or fax 215-854-5910.