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A little city ethics cleansing

Brown aide admits to campaign-finance fibs

JOHN McDANIEL, the former campaign manager for City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, has admitted he violated the city's campaign-finance law.

McDaniel signed a settlement agreement with the city's Board of Ethics on Feb. 14, the same day he pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing from Brown's campaign account and the Progressive Agenda PAC, a political-action committee funded by the Laborer's District Counsel.

The agreement was approved Monday by Board of Ethics Chairman Michael Reed.

McDaniel admitted to:

* Giving Brown $4,600 in campaign contributions in 2011, $2,000 more than the $2,600-per-year limit, for election expenses.

* Giving Brown $3,750 in cashier's checks and checks drawn from his personal bank account in 2011 to help her pay previous Board of Ethics fines and legal fees for violations of the city's campaign-finance law.

* Making 40 "material omissions and misstatements" in filing reports for Brown's political- action committee and the Progressive Action PAC.

* Violating the city's ban on political activity by employees by continuing to work with the Progressive Agenda PAC and three other PACs in 2012 after Mayor Nutter gave him a $87,125-per-year job supervising volunteers at the Philadelphia International Airport.

McDaniel admitted to coordinating funds for get-out-the-vote work in 2012 and education on the state's new voter-ID law.

McDaniel said that he also used the Progressive Agenda PAC to disguise the source of a $5,900 contribution to Fatimah Muhammad for her Democratic primary-election challenge to state Rep. James Roebuck. The money originated from the Students First PAC, a pro-school-voucher group.

McDaniel agreed to pay a $12,450 fine. The agreement said that fine would be waived if McDaniel, due to be sentenced May 14, is sent to federal prison.

Charles Gibbs, McDaniel's attorney, said the settlement shows that McDaniel is taking responsibility for "certain violations of the city code and city charter."

The Board of Ethics on Jan. 28 approved a settlement agreement with Brown, who agreed to pay $48,834 in fines and repayments for a long list of omissions and misstatements by her political-action committee.

Brown reported herself to the board in April for the repayment of a $3,300 personal loan from the committee to Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr., the son of the longtime local congressman who has been her political mentor.

That disclosure came one month after news reports that the FBI had raided Chip Fattah's offices and home.

Brown has repeatedly refused to comment, saying it would be "inappropriate" to discuss an ongoing federal investigation.

McDaniel faces 15 to 21 months in prison for theft estimated to be between $70,000 and $120,000 from Brown's politica- action committee and from Progressive Agenda PAC. That sentence could be reduced if federal prosecutors tell the judge he cooperated with ongoing investigations.

Along with running Brown's 2011 campaign for a fourth term, McDaniel was a consultant to Nutter's re-election campaign.

McDaniel was fired from his airport job by Nutter on Jan. 29 for violating the ban on political activity.

McDaniel also lost a job as assistant managing director during Mayor John Street's second term in 2005 for violating the employee ban on political activity.