Fast Eddie's casino days are over

Ed Rendell is cashing out. 

The former Pennsylvania governor told Clout on Thursday that he has decided to withdraw from his $5,000-a-month gig as a member of an advisory committee for Hong Kong-based Imperial Pacific International Holdings in light of some, er, recent events. 

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Ed Rendell was paid $5,000 a month as an adviser for a Hong Kong-based company.

Last week, the FBI “visited” Imperial Pacific, the parent company of the totally legitimate-sounding Best Sunshine Live Casino, which generates gargantuan amounts of revenue from its small perch between a coin laundry and a cellphone shop on Saipan, a U.S. island that’s just a stone’s throw away − about 7,800 miles − from the East Coast.

lengthy Bloomberg story in November revealed that Imperial Pacific’s CEO is Mark Brown, a onetime protege of President Trump.  The U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network reportedly had taken an interest in Best Sunshine Live. Last September, the casino claimed it recorded $3.9 billion in bets, an eye-popping figure that some gambling promoters suggested could be evidence of money laundering. Brown insisted the casino was on the up-and-up. 

Rendell told us back in November about some Philip Marlowe-like digging he did into Best Sunshine Live: “I said to Mark, ‘Is this legit?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Is it a real casino?’ He said, ‘Yes, it is.’ ”

As for the $5,000 a month, Fast Eddie described it then as “not a big f-ing deal” and said the only thing he’d done for the money so far was to persuade former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to sign up as an adviser to the company.

On Thursday, Rendell said that the FBI’s recent visit to Imperial Pacific had to do with undocumented workers who were hired by the company. Our friends at Guam's Pacific Daily News reported similar allegations. (Brown’s mentor would be none too happy about this.)

“Believe it or not, they’re having trouble getting workers there,” Rendell said. “As to the money laundering, they keep insisting there’s nothing to it.”  

Rendell said his decision to withdraw from the advisory committee − which includes former FBI Director Louis Freeh − came down to practicality. 

“It’s too far away for me to effectively monitor anything that goes on. I’m taking people’s word for it, and that’s not a good thing,” he said. “I can’t give them good advice because I’m too far away, and I can’t figure out what’s going on.”

GOP steel cage match

The battle to be the next chairman of Philadelphia’s Republican City Committee is now a three-way fight And the men behind the contenders are just as interesting as the brawl.

Michael Meehan, the party’s longtime general counsel and leader of the old guard, confirms that he has entered the race, which already includes Mike Cibik, the party’s vice chairman, and Joe McColgan, who has run for the U.S. House and City Council and works in financial management.

McColgan, who resigned from the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority last week, tells Clout that Meehan called the same day to announce his candidacy. Meehan, according to McColgan, said he had the backing of former state House Speaker John Perzel. (Is that a good thing?)

“I’ll admit I reached out to John,” Meehan told us, “just to make him aware of what I was doing.”

Things are looking up for Perzel, who pleaded guilty in 2011 to conspiracy, theft, and other crimes, and served nearly two years in prison. Superior Court on Wednesday ruled that he does not have to pay the $1 million in restitution to the state that was part of his sentence. And his parole ends this month.

Perzel, who represented a Northeast Philly district, is now a lobbyist. Which does not surprise us at all.

Meanwhile, Cibik, a bankruptcy lawyer who leads the Fifth Ward, confirms that he sought the support of Vince Fenerty, a fellow ward leader who resigned as executive director at the Philadelphia Parking Authority in September after two sexual harassment complaints were made public by the Inquirer and Daily News.

“I just want his support and the votes,” Cibik said of Fenerty. “I say to people, ‘You can’t be stupid.’ If Joe or Michael don’t ask Fenerty for this vote, that would be dumb.”

McColgan also has an interesting potential ally. His brother-in-law Val DiGiorgio in February became chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party. McColgan says he has asked DiGiorgio not to intervene in the race.

The current chairman, Joe DeFelice, is still in place, although he may be leaving soon to take a new job, possibly in Trump's administration. DeFelice is lying low, avoiding any comment about all this.

“There’s nothing to do until there is a vacancy,” Meehan said.

Quotable

“When you hear somebody like Lynne Abraham calling for the resignation of Seth Williams, it reminds me of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, the creator of the monster, complaining about the monster. The former DA, Lynne Abraham, is actually the mad scientist that put together some confused notions of justice, put them in the head of this young black man, who I supported, thinking he was a progressive young black man, and he took on the traits of his creator.”

– Attorney Michael Coard, speaking Tuesday outside the District Attorney’s Office, where activists were calling for Williams to resign and mocking Abraham for suing to have a judge remove him from office now that he has been indicted on federal corruption charges.

Staff writers David Gambacorta, Chris Brennan, Julia Terruso, and William Bender contributed to this column. Tips: clout@phillynews.com

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