Campbell under scrutiny

State eyeing councilwoman's finance reporting

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Councilwoman Carol Ann Campbell in Council chambers yesterday, the day after the attorney general's office said it had opened an investigation May 1 involving her campaign-finance reporting.

COUNCILWOMAN Carol Ann Campbell is the subject of an investigation by the Pennsylvania attorney general's office into allegations that she violated the state election code governing campaign-finance reporting.

Kevin Harley, spokesman for Attorney General Tom Corbett, said late Wednesday that the investigation was opened May 1 after the office received a referral from District Attorney Lynne Abraham's office. Abraham's office declined comment on the referral.

The investigation is under the direction of Patrick Blessington, a senior deputy attorney general in the Norristown office of the public-corruption unit, Harley said.

Campbell yesterday said she was unaware of the attorney general's inquiry, but she had been informed that Matthew McClure, one of her two primary opponents, had filed a complaint with the district attorney weeks ago.

"This was all a conspiracy that was contrived by my opponent to completely discredit me," Campbell said.

Referring to the McClure complaint to Abraham's office, Campbell said, "The only thing I can say is that they are the same charges that he lodged against me to get me knocked off the ballot and three judges heard the evidence and deemed it unfounded and dismissed it."

Gary Samms, Campbell's attorney, reiterated his client's lack of information.

"We are unaware of any investigation or the reason for it," he said.

In letters to the district attorney, the attorney general and the city's Ethics Board in mid-April, McClure alleged a series of violations related to Campbell's current fundraising as well as reporting discrepancies dating to 2005.

He raised questions about Genesis IV, a political-action committee in which Campbell said she is no longer involved. In 2005, her brother Edgar Campbell Jr. signed the reports.

McClure contended that $70,000 in contributions to Genesis IV from judicial candidates and another PAC went unreported in 2005. Campbell has said the reports were amended to show the contributions.

In 2001, Campbell was indicted by a state grand jury for violating reporting requirements. In that case, Blessington was the prosecutor.

"Certainly this office has experience with her lack of accuracy in reporting campaign expenses," Harley said.

With the consent of prosecutors, Harley said, Campbell, as a first-time offender, was allowed to participate in a program known as accelerated rehabilitative disposition, which often includes a community-service component. After she completed the program, the charges were expunged from her record, he said.

Meanwhile, Campbell said she has filed complaints with the attorney general and the district attorney against the city's Ethics Board and staff. She said that complaints to the Ethics Board should be kept confidential, but that McClure made them public.

"I don't think that's upholding the ethics code and no sanction was taken. He's an officer of the court [McClure is a lawyer] and sworn to uphold the law. This is very, very unfair, but that's life," she said. *