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Lawyer: Brady rival broke no laws in alleged payment scheme

The woman whose federal guilty plea this week exposed an alleged scheme by U.S. Rep. Bob Brady to eliminate a primary challenge by paying off his rival's campaign debts was the rival's fiance, the man's lawyer said Wednesday.

Senior Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore, accused of dropping his 2012 bid against U.S. Rep Bob Brady in exchange for a $90,000 payout, broke no laws, though an aide for his campaign has pleaded guilty to her role in the alleged scheme, his attorney said Wednesday.

"Everyone involved in this scenario has a different role, a different degree of involvement," attorney Jeff Miller said. "It's not like everyone is guilty of an offense. Some could be and some definitely are not. The fact she entered a plea of guilty, her activity … was significantly at variance to my clients. The fact she pled guilty doesn't mean he is guilty of any offense whatsoever."

Miller also, speaking for the first time since the investigation became public Tuesday, said the aide, Carolyn Cavaness, was Moore's fiancee and living with him at the time Moore ended his campaign bid.

Federal prosecutors say Cavanass admitted during a brief court hearing Friday to leaving the $90,000 in payments out of filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Unsealed records show she admitted that in 2012 she helped funnel the money from Brady's political action committee to Moore's campaign coffers after he ended his brief bid for Congress. According to her plea agreement, Moore instructed her to create a company whose sole purpose would be to receive the funds, which could then be used to pay Moore's political debts.

Neither Brady nor Moore has been charged with a crime. They also were not identified by name in court documents that outlined Cavaness's plea deal. But a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia made clear the crime was related to the 2012 primary campaign for Pennsylvania's First Congressional District, which Brady has represented for nearly two decades.

Miller on Wednesday said Moore wanted to unify the party when he dropped out of the race. But he said the candidate's primary motivation was financial.

"The expenses were just eating him alive," he said. "He also poured a considerable amount of his own funds into the venture and at some point just couldn't hang in there financially anymore."

Asked about Cavanass's assertion that Moore told her to create a company to receive the funds, Miller did not acknowledge Moore's involvement but responded as if it hypothetically were true.

"It doesn't mean it's a crime for someone to drop out of a campaign and for an opponent to fund legitimate expenses of that person because he was dropping out and to unify the party. The intention might not have been malevolent," Miller said. "… If we assume hypothetically that occurred, hypothetically, and that's important, hypothetically, it's not necessarily a crime."

He said Moore and Cavanass broke off their engagement shortly after Moore dropped out of the primary.

Miller said he has not spoken to Moore since prosecutors announced Cavaness's plea. He said the judge is dealing with "some significant health concerns" and, on doctor's orders, is taking some time off work and is out of the country.

He said he was retained by Moore and first heard about the investigation about three months ago.

"He has been completely forthright and available," Miller. "And basically, to use the cliche of the year, [he] has nothing to hide."