U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle was hunkered down with his staff during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection with his Capitol office lights and computers turned off.
But his cellphone was still blowing up with call after call — and more than 200 text messages from friends, supporters, even Clout — asking if the Northeast Philly Democrat was safe.
One call from Boyle’s political allies in the city building trades unions posed a different question. Did he want some union muscle to come watch his back?
That short story is told in the opening pages of This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future, a book released this week by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns.
The book, a wellspring of news scoops for weeks, attributed the offer to John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, the longtime head of the electricians union who was convicted in November with former City Councilmember Bobby Henon on federal bribery charges.
A source close to Dougherty told Clout the union leader “did indeed reach out” to Boyle and U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat from Montgomery County, “to check on their safety and to offer them additional personal security.”
“They are two members of Congress who the trades worked hard to elect,” the source said. “We just wanted to help ensure their safety on that dark day.”
Boyle recalls the offer. “I did not take them up on it,” he told Clout. Instead, he was the first Democrat to walk onto the House floor after order was restored and gave a five-minute speech about why the peaceful transfer of power should continue.
City Council members raised thousands for legal defenses
Henon, who resigned from Council in January and is now preparing an appeal of his conviction, disclosed this week that he collected nearly $175,000 in 2021 for his legal defense fund.
That was part of the annual statements of financial interests elected officials had to file by Monday.
Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson filed his as well, listing $21,500 in 13 donations for his legal defense fund. Johnson and his wife, Dawn Chavous, face retrial after a federal jury’s deadlock prompted a mistrial in their bribery case last month.
Henon improved his haul from 2020, when his legal defense fund took in about $44,000, while Johnson saw his numbers drop after collecting about $70,000 in 2020. Johnson’s largest 2021 donation was $10,000 from real estate developer Jason Nusbaum.
Henon, a former political director in the electricians union, recorded 75 donations in 2021, with eight contributions for $10,000. That included the Laborers District Council, Philadelphia’s AFL-CIO Council, the Operating Engineers, Steamfitters Local 420, and the union that represents state liquor store workers. His own union, Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, was not listed.
He also got $10,000 from an addiction recovery center in Florida and top-flight attorney Shanin Specter. The founder of another addiction recovery center in Philadelphia just missed the mark with a donation of $9,999.
State Rep. Mike Driscoll, the Democrat running in the May 17 special election to fill Henon’s seat, kicked in $1,500. Henon was one of the ward leaders who selected Driscoll for that race.
One quirk in the law to watch: Henon will have to file a statement of financial interests for this year next May, despite resigning 20 days into 2022. So any money he raises this year for his legal defense will have to be disclosed next year, even though he is out of office, according to the city’s Board of Ethics.
Mastriano’s media meltdown
State Sen.. Doug Mastriano, the Franklin County Republican seen as a front-runner in the May 17 primary for governor, spends much of his time campaigning in front of supportive crowds. That may have skewed his perspective on the reality of running statewide in Pennsylvania.
Consider his freak-out Wednesday on a podcast for the Delaware Valley Journal, a website that calls itself politically “center-right.”
It started nice and easy. What he would do if elected? Why he is the best Republican in the race?
“I appreciate you guys,” Mastriano said. “You’re always fair. That’s what we look for. We don’t look for adoration.”
You sure about that, Senator?
Mastriano then lashed out when asked about his recent speech to a group that traffics in QAnon and other conspiracy theories and his attendance at the Washington rally that devolved into the Jan. 6 insurrection. Mastriano was subpoenaed in February by the congressional committee investigating the events of Jan. 6.
Mastriano chalked up all his troubles to “biased left-wing reporting.”
The hosts tossed Mastriano another softball, asking how he would handle crime in Philadelphia.
Mastriano launched into an answer but the lure of playing victim proved too strong as he redirected the interview back to the questions he had just complained about.
“I don’t like the nature and the tone of this interview because that is so unfair,” Mastriano said.
The final straw: a question about the 2019 state law that largely expanded the use of mail ballots, something Mastriano voted for, and his lies about the 2020 presidential election being stolen in Pennsylvania.
Mastriano issued a final litany of grievances and then hung up on the stunned hosts.
Bill McSwain, one of nine Republicans in the primary, tweeted Thursday that it was “flat-out embarrassing” that Mastriano “can’t even handle questions from a friendly outlet.”
Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.