The instructions were simple: Constituents and community leaders were asked to write a letter in support of former City Councilmember Bobby Henon, asking the judge who will sentence him on federal corruption charges to go easy.
Then things got tricky.
Michele Fleming, who still does constituent services in Henon’s former 6th District office, emailed those instructions last week, asking for the letters to be sent or dropped off at that office. Seven staffers continue to work from the city-rented Tacony storefront. Henon resigned from Council last month, after his conviction in November. He’s being sentenced in April.
“Councilman Henon and all his staff greatly appreciate you, your organizations and all you have done in the past years,” Fleming wrote, signing with her city title and the office address. “We would be beyond grateful for your willingness to fulfill this request. No negative comments please!”
Fleming told Clout she sent the email at Henon’s request, but then hung up when asked if the office is receiving letters of support.
Henon, a Democrat, declined to comment.
A spokesperson for City Council President Darrell Clarke told Clout: “The issue has been addressed with the 6th District office staff as a whole and with the employee in question specifically. The district office should not be used for this kind of activity, and the office of the Council president has taken appropriate steps to ensure it does not happen again.”
A federal jury found that former electricians union leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty effectively bought Henon’s vote on Council with a side job that came with a union salary. Dougherty was also convicted.
It’s common for convicted politicians to solicit letters of support prior to sentencing. They’re required reading for reporters who track these cases. But an ousted politician using the same office he’s accused of abusing to solicit letters? That’s a new one for Clout.
The email came with a two-page set of instructions that included 13 pictures of Henon posing with supporters. It described “Team Bobby” as “shocked and devastated” by the verdict.
The Philadelphia AFL-CIO sent a similar letter to union members last month, asking them to write “a plea for leniency” for Henon and urging them to send or drop off those letters at his former district office. A spokesperson for the union group later said using the district office address was a mistake.
Corman claims Philly lawmakers support impeaching Krasner
Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Centre County Republican running for Pennsylvania governor, claimed Wednesday that his call for the state House to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has found support from state lawmakers who represent the city.
Corman, who came to town to tout the effort, said it requires “bipartisan support.” The House has not taken up the issue.
“I’ve spoken to Philadelphia members of the delegation who have said they would be supportive of it,” said Corman.
He later declined to name those lawmakers.
Corman’s event was festooned with placards calling for Krasner’s ouster, paid for by his campaign, even though the call for impeachment came from his Senate office.
Republican competitors in the primary — no fans of Krasner — have derided Corman’s efforts as political grandstanding.
“I was glad to see that some of his colleagues from his party were calling him out,” Dawkins said. “Everyone can see what it is — political theater.”
With no Democratic Senate endorsement, candidates declare victory anyway
We’re not math geniuses here at Clout, but we can calculate two-thirds. That’s the threshold a candidate had to meet at a Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee meeting Saturday to get endorsed by the party.
No one got there. Still, we heard a lot of victory talk.
U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb has the most mathematical reason to claim the win: He got more than 60% of the vote for his Senate campaign, short what he needed for an endorsement but more than double the second- and third-place finishers, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.
The other campaigns have pointed to the crowd the candidates were there to woo — about 300 heavily engaged, elected party committee people — as Lamb’s kind of room and his endorsement to lose. And lose, he did.
As did everyone seeking the endorsement.
Lamb campaigned hard for the vote, sending mailers to committee members and personally calling many of them.
That, his opponents argue, makes Lamb the loser and everybody else a winner, since no endorsement means less influence in the key final months before the May primary.
Kenyatta’s team saw his third-place finish and ability to make it past the first ballot (which Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh did not) as a win for him.
Arkoosh’s campaign has said the opinions of 300 people in a ballroom, especially without an endorsement following it, are unlikely to have any major bearing on the campaign and thus leaves her largely where she was in the race — still struggling to gain traction.
Clout’s calculation: Spinning a loss into a victory just brings more attention to a shot taken and missed.
Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.