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Philly Dems support net neutrality — but not a petition for, you know, net neutrality | Philly Clout

Philly reps in Congress tap dance on net neutrality, a mayoral candidate makes a fake statement and Democratic political consultants battle in court.

Comcast, its headquarters tower seen in this 2017 file photo, opposes federal regulations that would prohibit internet providers from discriminating against content in download speed or price.
Comcast, its headquarters tower seen in this 2017 file photo, opposes federal regulations that would prohibit internet providers from discriminating against content in download speed or price.Read moreBRIANNA SPAUSE / Staff Photographer

Philly Dems in the U.S. House say they support net neutrality — just don’t ask them to sign a petition for it. Funny what a Comcast-shape shadow can do to you.

Philly’s Bob Brady, Brendan Boyle, and Dwight Evans have all declined to sign a Democratic petition to force a vote on restoring the Obama-era net neutrality rules that were overturned by GOP members of the FCC. Delaware County’s newly sworn-in Mary Gay Scanlon had also resisted, but flipped under pressure.

Before her change of heart last week, they were four of just 16 House Democrats who had not signed, according to activists pushing to restore the internet regulations. (Signatures from Scanlon and another member had reduced that to 14 as of Thursday afternoon.)

“It’s hard to see it as a coincidence" how many holdouts come from "Comcast’s backyard,” said Evan Greer of Fight for the Future, one of the advocacy groups raising the pressure.

The Philly-based Godzilla has joined other internet providers in trying to kill the Obama-era rules meant to ensure a level playing field on the internet — though the company says it believes in an open internet.

What irks activists is that Boyle, Evans, and Scanlon had all publicly vowed to support net neutrality. Brady, who once wrote a letter echoing Comcast’s objections, said he, too, supports the idea.

So why not sign?

All four reps said they don’t agree with the tactic, even though it’s led by their Pennsylvania colleague, Mike Doyle, and supported by nearly every Democrat in Congress. It’s likely a dead end, even if all sign: the petition is part of a process that would ultimately require support from two dozen House Republicans and President Trump’s signature.

Scanlon said she hadn’t signed the petition because “it wasn’t going anywhere.” She said she prefers legislation to make the rules permanent, not subject to presidential reversal, and hasn’t talked to Comcast. (She decided to sign anyway after getting flogged by constituents and when tech-focused website Gizmodo singled her out.)

Evans, Boyle, and Brady also want a bill. “The debate is over process,” Evans said.

Those arguments echo those of the giant internet providers, who’d unleash their lobbyists on legislation, Greer argued.

“They can’t claim to support a free and open internet while spewing telecom talking points and refusing to do the one thing in their power to show they truly support real net neutrality protections,” Greer wrote.

Time is about up: The petition dies when Congress recesses this month.

Day cares at safe-injection sites? Ruling on GOP mayoral candidate’s claim: False

Billy Ciancaglini declared himself “fed up” with Mayor Kenney on Monday as he became the first Republican candidate for mayor. He decried the soda tax. Philadelphia shouldn’t be a “sanctuary city.” And forget coddling opioid users.

“Oh, oh, and I forgot to mention one more thing,” the South Philly defense attorney told supporters. “These safe-injection sites that Jim Kenney is proposing? They will have day cares in them. I am not making this up.”

The crowd groaned and shouted.

And Clout has the first fact-check of Election 2019:

“The idea of a day-care center at an overdose prevention site is ridiculous and claims that such plans exist are patently false,” said Kenney spokesperson Mike Dunn.

Ciancaglini told us he can’t remember who told him about the day cares but stands by his claim.

“Ultimately, we will wait and see,” he said. “Maybe it’s correct, maybe it’s not. I still say it’s correct.”

Philly Dem consultants feud in court

In 2015, Democratic consultants Dan Fee and Aubrey Montgomery founded a firm specializing in campaign-finance compliance, and soon counted as clients candidates for city, state, and federal office.

But while Democrats had a banner year in 2018, things haven’t been going so well for the Philly-based Campaign Compliance Firm LLC, court documents show. It’s losing money. It was fired by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey’s reelection campaign. And the onetime business partners (and, it seemed, friends) are now embroiled in litigation, with Fee accusing Montgomery of financial mismanagement and defamatory statements.

In a lawsuit filed in October, Fee alleges that Montgomery expressed concerns about the firm’s viability after the Casey flap and wanted to close it. Fee requested an accounting of the firm’s finances, the suit says, and Montgomery stonewalled him for six months. Montgomery had a 65 percent stake and managed the company, the suit says. Fee owned 35 percent.

In addition, Montgomery “baselessly” told associates Fee was “beset by ‘mood swings’ from which she must ‘protect’ her staff,” and that Fee was “somehow insensitive to another’s religion because he included a Jewish staff member” on an email chain on Yom Kippur, the suit says.

In court papers, Montgomery’s lawyers say she refunded Fee’s investment. They call Fee vindictive and his claim “absurd.” Fee alleges that Montgomery never offered to make him whole, and that his $25,000 investment is being held in escrow.

Montgomery says she hired an outside accounting firm to review Campaign Compliance’s books. But the review is useless, Fee alleges, because Montgomery withheld key documents.

On Dec. 4, Judge Nina W. Padilla ordered Montgomery to provide Fee the documents he had requested. Montgomery didn’t meet the deadline, and her lawyers asked for more time. On Wednesday, Montgomery’s partners at a separate consultancy didn’t show for scheduled depositions, according to Fee’s lawyer.

Fee is now asking the judge to sanction Montgomery and Campaign Compliance by ordering each to donate $3,000 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.