Former Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr. was the potential witness whom federal prosecutors say U.S. Rep. Robert Brady tried to influence as they probed an alleged $90,000 payoff the congressman paid a 2012 Democratic primary challenger to drop out of the race, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
Contacted Thursday, Goode, 78, would not say if he was the former elected official identified only as “Person 3” in court filings unsealed this week. Instead, he asked how the reporter who contacted him had heard he was involved.
“I assume there is an ongoing investigation,” said Goode, who held the city’s top elected post from 1984 to 1991. “I’m not responding to people who give information, and I don’t know who they are or what they know about facts. I would just say in the right time, the facts will come out as they should come out in an accurate manner.”
In a conversation later in the day, Goode confirmed that he had “facilitated” a 2012 meeting that led Brady’s challenger, former Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore, to drop out of the race.
He would not, however, discuss the potentially more explosive claim in prosecutors’ filings: that Brady attempted to shape the testimony of the man who brokered that meeting, and did so days after FBI agents had approached the congressman in April about their investigation – an accusation Brady has denied.
Goode – a community activist and the first African American elected to his post – is only the latest recognizable political name attached to an FBI probe that has brought agents to the doorstep of Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee for more than three decades and one of the longest-serving U.S. representatives in the state.
The allegation of potential witness-coaching emerged Wednesday in a motion to seal any further filings in the case of another key cooperator, an aide to Moore. In that document, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric L. Gibson outlined a meeting between the former mayor and the congressman days after Brady had first been approached by the FBI.
Brady sought to meet with Goode in person to discuss the details of the 2012 negotiation that both men had been involved in that paved the way for Moore to exit the race.
Brady “demanded of [Goode] whether he ‘was clear about what [had] happened,’ ” Gibson wrote. “After [Goode] indicated he was ‘clear,’ [Brady] responded that he took care of [Moore’s] girl.”
Prosecutors, in their motion, called their discussion a clear attempt to “influence [Goode’s] account of the matter under investigation” and warned that if further filings in the case were not kept secret, there was “a significant danger” that Brady or others on his behalf might try to impede the FBI probe.
The “girl” mentioned in the filing was Moore’s then-campaign manager and ex-fiancée, Carolyn Cavaness, who pleaded guilty in a deal unsealed this week to falsifying Moore’s campaign finance filings to hide a $90,000 payment from Brady’s campaign.
Cavaness has admitted that the money was intended as a payoff to persuade Moore to drop out of the race and was funneled through two of Brady’s longtime political consultants to a company she created solely to receive the funds in an attempt to hide their source.
Authorities have alleged that Moore and Cavaness used some of the money to pay off his campaign debts, but spent more than half of it on themselves.
In Cavaness’ plea agreement on Tuesday, prosecutors said Goode played a role in bringing Brady and Moore together to strike that deal. They did not specify, however, whether Goode was aware of the terms to which Brady and Moore had allegedly agreed, to shut down Moore’s campaign.
Goode on Thursday said Moore had worked for him “back in the 1970s” and mutual friends were worried “he was damaging his career” by resigning as a judge to challenge Brady. Moore at first resisted the former mayor’s advice to drop his campaign but relented when told “he had no chance of winning,” Goode said.
Moore told Goode he needed to meet with Brady. Goode set it up.
“I put the two of them in a room and told them to talk, and when they were finished talking we could leave,” Goode said.
Neither Brady nor Moore has been named in any court filings surrounding Cavaness’ case. Nor has either man been charged with a crime.
Goode said Thursday he had no knowledge about the people and candidates described in the government’s pleadings.
“What I know, for the most part, I read in the newspaper in the last two days,” he said. “I don’t want to get in the middle of narratives that people have. If someone from a law enforcement agency were to ask me questions, I would answer truthfully and accurately.”
Asked if he had hired a lawyer, he responded: “Based on what I know about the case, I do not see the need for any attorney.”
Brady’s attorney, James Eisenhower, scoffed Wednesday at any allegation that his client had ever tried to impede the investigation. He has balked at the government’s characterization of the $90,000 that Brady’s campaign paid to Moore as an illegal payoff.
Instead, he maintains that the money went to purchase exclusive rights to polling data compiled by Moore’s campaign and to hire Cavaness as a subcontractor for Brady’s reelection bid – transactions he described as legal and typical in political campaigns.