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July 25, 2017

Bob Brady's campaign paid challenger to drop out of congressional race, prosecutors allege

A former political aide told a federal judge on Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Bob Brady's re-election campaign in 2012 paid his challenger to drop out of the congressional race.

Carolyn Cavaness, 34, of Ardmore, admitted to taking part in the scheme when she worked as an aide to former Philadelphia Municipal Judge Jimmie Moore, who looked set to challenge Brady's seat in the Democratic primary before dropping out, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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Prosecutors allege Brady's campaign paid Moore's campaign $90,000 to have Moore drop out of the race.

The statement did not directly identify Brady or Moore, instead referring to them as "Candidate A" and "Candidate B," respectively, but it said the candidates were in the 2012 Democratic race for Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District, which Brady has represented since 1998.  

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Prosecutors allege that to get around campaign laws, which states a campaign cannot pay more than $2,000 to another, Moore told Cavaness to create a company whose sole purpose would be to receive the funds from Brady's campaign. The money was allegedly used to pay Moore's campaign debts, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The payments were routed through two political consultants who created false invoices intended to justify the payments, prosecutors claimed.

Brady and Moore have not been charged or accused of wrongdoing, but the case could spell trouble for Brady down the line.

The plea by Cavaness follows a recent string of corruption cases within the city's Democratic Party.

Among others, former District Attorney Seth Williams pleaded guilty in a bribery case and abruptly resigned last month, and former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah is serving a 10-year prison sentence after his conviction last year in a federal corruption case.

Brady has been a longtime political fixture in the city and chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee for more than 30 years.

He told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday that he had no knowledge of the scheme, and he reportedly referred questions to his longtime political consultant, Ken Smuckler.

"You have to talk to Kenny," he told the newspaper. "They did all that. That's five years ago. I don't remember none of that. ... Whatever they did, I don't know."

Moore, who retired in 2016, released a joint statement with Brady in 2012 after he dropped out of the race.

The statement called Moore's decision "an effort to unify the Philadelphia Democratic Party."