POLITICIANS NEED to get their names in front of your eyeballs. Any way they can.
TV, internet, print. Hats, T-shirts, buttons. Billboards. Diner menus. Baby diapers. Drink coasters and beer koozies. Mouse pads and toilet paper. Signs on lawns, signs on buildings, signs attached to 18-wheelers parked strategically on highway overpasses.
Oh, wait - that last one pertains only to State Rep. Martina White, the Northeast Philadelphia Republican seeking re-election next month.
A Clout tipster tells us - and sent a photo! - that someone hung a big ol' Martina White sign on the side of a tractor-trailer that, in recent weeks, just happens to park on the Ashburner Street overpass in Holmesburg so all the drivers on I-95 below can catch a glimpse.
Think of it as a bandit billboard.
Clever. Very clever. Also? Totally illegal.
"No, it's not legal," Officer Tanya Little, a police spokeswoman, said Thursday. "A truck can't be parked on an overpass."
The huge sign includes a photo of White and a list of endorsements, and directs drivers to her website. (Although hopefully they don't visit the site while barreling down I-95.)
Clout called White's campaign Thursday but didn't hear back.
"If it was there when we went there, we would ticket it," Little said of the truck.
We figure White has built up some goodwill with the Philadelphia Police Department. She was elected last year with the help of the local FOP, and has introduced a bill that would prevent officials from immediately releasing the names of police officers involved in shootings. (The Assembly passed that bill Thursday and sent it to Gov. Wolf.)
Little said the political sign is of no concern to police. The truck just can't park there.
"As of 4:16 this afternoon, it's not there," she said.
But that Friday rush-hour traffic will be hard to resist.
The Ethics Board has been on a fining spree recently, charging candidates, elected officials, and their PACs thousands of dollars for breaking all sorts of campaign-finance rules.
One of the most frequent violations seems to be late filing. Why can't people make these deadlines? We looked to the leader of our fair city, the Honorable James Francis Kenney, assuming the mayor would set an example of filing on time.
Turns out, Kenney for Philadelphia, the mayor's PAC, was late not once or twice, but three times this year. And not just by a little.
On July 13, his committee filed the required campaign finance reports for campaign cycles 1, 2, and 3. They were all due between March and May. Then, on Aug. 3, the PAC got around to filing those same reports with the Ethics Board, which it should have also filed months earlier.
Was the mayor hiding something he didn't want us to see?
Clout went on a fishing expedition and discovered that the mayor had quite an inauguration bash. His campaign spent more than $100,000 on food, lights, entertainment and a ballroom at the Convention Center.
And he loves Race Street Cafe in Old City. The PAC paid for Kenney to eat and drink at his favorite restaurant 24 times over a four-month period, with the tab totaling $2,116, according to the campaign's finance report.
Given his frequent visits to Race Street, it must be good. What should we order, mayor? The petit filet Dianne and applejack pork chops both sound delish.
"It was an oversight by the campaign that was corrected," Marty O'Rourke, a spokesman for Kenney's PAC, said of the late filings.
As we've seen in recent months, late filings usually result in fines and settlements, but Shane Creamer, executive director of the Ethics Board, said he couldn't comment on the matter.
Speaking of the Ethics Board, some City Hall gossips are wondering whether the board's settlement this week with three staffers for Councilman David Oh might stray into theft-of-services territory and deserve a referral to the District Attorney's Office.
As our colleague Tricia L. Nadolny reported, office manager and director of constituent services Donald Tippett, director of policy and international affairs Lois Kang, and chief of staff William Stewart Graham will pay a total of $3,300 in fines for engaging in political fund-raising efforts, some on city time and using city computers.
Hmm, taxpayer resources being used for political purposes.
Isn't that kinda what Bonusgate was about?
Wasn't former State Sen. Leanna "the F---ing Senator" Washington convicted for ordering her staff to plan her birthday party fund-raiser?
And hasn't Oh already been fined by the Ethics Board for circumventing campaign-finance limits by funneling money through another candidate's committee?
"He's got nine lives," a Council staffer said.
Hey, maybe Oh's staffers happened to be doing political work for their boss without his knowledge. Maybe they didn't know it was wrong. Maybe Oh didn't know, either.
As the French proverb goes: "It would be a very big book that contained all the maybes uttered in a day."
Alas, Creamer said he couldn't talk about the case, and Oh didn't respond to a request for comment.
We have faith, though, in Oh. One of these days the councilman is going to figure out this whole ethics business.
- Staff writers William Bender and Claudia Vargas contributed to this column.