Judge Tosses Cozen O'Connor Suit Against Ethics Board

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.