Two aides to one of the most powerful politicians in the region, Democratic Congressman Bob Brady, pleaded not guilty to allegedly helping Brady’s campaign funnel a $90,000 payoff to former Philadelphia Judge Jimmie Moore for dropping out of the 2012 congressional primary.
Political consultants Kenneth Smukler, 57, and Donald Jones, 62, appeared at arraignments in federal court Wednesday, a day after the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia announced grand jury charges against them for their alleged roles in a “falsification scheme” to pay Moore’s campaign.
Following entry of their pleas Wednesday, Smukler and Jones were both released on $50,000 OR bonds. The judge allowed them to remain in contact with Brady for work purposes. Smukler is represented by Philadelphia attorney Brian McMonagle. Jones is represented by Robert Trimble, also of Philadelphia.
Smukler, an attorney and longtime aide to Brady, also worked with former state Attorney General Kathleen Kane. Jones is a New Jersey-based political consultant who has been involved in several city-wide campaigns.
The two were charged with conspiracy, causing unlawful campaign contributions, causing the filing of false reports to the Federal Election Commission and causing false statements to the Federal Election Commission. Jones was also charged with making false statements to the FBI, the announcement said.
Brady has not been charged with a crime and prosecutors have given no indication as to whether they’re pursuing the congressman.
When the indictments were issued Tuesday, Brady’s attorney, James Eisenhower of Dilworth Paxson, said the congressman was saddened by the charges against Smukler and Jones, and added that Brady has done nothing wrong.
“The congressman has not been charged in this indictment and indeed has done nothing wrong. He has long acknowledged that he has helped Judge Moore relieve his campaign debt when Moore dropped out of the race more than five years ago,” Eisenhower had said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing illegal, and it’s commonly done in politics.”
In July, Moore’s former campaign aide, Carolyn Cavaness, pleaded guilty to covering up an alleged scheme to divert money from Brady’s campaign funds to pay Moore.
Although the announcement Tuesday did not name Brady, Moore was the only Democratic challenger running against Brady in the 2012 primary for Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District, for which Brady has been the incumbent for roughly 20 years.
On Oct. 3, Moore also pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FEC regarding the 2012 congressional primary.
Moore withdrew from the race in February 2012 after an agreement was struck where his opponent allegedly promised to pay $90,000 in campaign funds to repay Moore’s campaign debts, prosecutors said. However, the announcement noted that the law does not allow one campaign to contribute more than $2,000 to another during a primary election.
Prosecutors alleged that Moore instructed Cavaness to create a company whose only purpose was to receive the funds. Those payments, according to the announcement, were routed through Voter Link Data Systems and D. Jones & Associates, the political consulting companies run by Smukler and Jones.