Saturday, February 28, 2015

Judge Tosses Cozen O'Connor Suit Against Ethics Board

A Court of Common Pleas judge has rejected a lawsuit filed against the Philadelphia Board of Ethics by the law firm Cozen O'Connor, which was seeking to lift campaign contribution limits from last year's mayoral race.

Judge Tosses Cozen O'Connor Suit Against Ethics Board

U.S. Bob Brady during his mayoral campaign last year.
U.S. Bob Brady during his mayoral campaign last year.

A Court of Common Pleas judge has rejected a lawsuit filed against the Philadelphia Board of Ethics by the law firm Cozen O'Connor, which was seeking to lift campaign contribution limits from last year's mayoral race.  U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, who came in third in the seven-way Democratic primary, ran up a $448,648 legal bill with Cozen O'Connor to successfully fend off a ballot challenge from Tom Knox, who finished second in the primary.

City law limited campaign contributions to $2,500 for individuals and $10,000 for law firms, political-action committee and unincorporated businesses.  Those limits were doubled because Knox, a millionaire, was running a self-financed campaign.  Knox challenged Brady's place on the ballot because of information left off the congressman's nominating papers.  Cozen O'Connor's lawsuit said the contribution limits made it difficult to get paid for the Brady legal work.

Judge Gary DiVito on Friday dismissed the lawsuit, based on preliminary objects from the Board of Ethics.  Attorneys for the Board of Ethics argued that Cozen O'Connor lacked standing to sue because the contribution limits impacted Brady's campaign, not the law firm.  Brady asked the Board of Ethics after the primary for a ruling on whether he could exceed the limits.  The board turned him down in September and he did not file an appeal within 30 days.

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William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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