Feds file new charges against Ken Smukler, aide to Bob Brady

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday filed new charges against a top aide to U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, accusing Ken Smukler of obstructing a federal investigation and concealing illegal contributions to Marjorie Margolies, a former member of Congress from Montgomery County who ran again in 2014.

Smukler was charged last year in an illegal payoff scheme that prosecutors said was aimed at pushing Brady’s rival, Jimmie Moore, out of the 2012 Democratic primary. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to be tried next month. Neither he nor his attorney could be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

In their superseding indictment, prosecutors broadened the scope of their case, accusing Smukler of facilitating and concealing illegal contributions to Margolies’ unsuccessful campaign.

Although Margolies is not named in the indictment, she fits its description of “Candidate C,” whom prosecutors identified as a Democratic congressional candidate who hired Smukler in a 2014 House race.

Even after the campaign ran out of money as the Democratic primary election neared, Smukler urged the campaign to continue spending money that he falsely described as a refund from a media account, the indictment says.

In fact, prosecutors say, the money was “an unlawful campaign contribution” of $78,750 funneled through Smukler’s business account. He was reimbursed two days later by “Person 1,” identified as a close associate.

After she lost in the primary, Margolies faced a new problem: reimbursing money to donors that had been earmarked for the general election. But no campaign money remained, the indictment says.

Smukler essentially repeated the scam, the indictment says, raising $150,000 from an unnamed “Person 2” and wiring that through two of his companies to the campaign.

The payments violated federal limits on campaign contributions, prosecutors said.

Smukler then caused the campaign to file false statements with the Federal Election Commission, saying that the $150,000 represented refunds of money held in escrow for general election expenses.

Prosecutors say Smukler also obstructed an FEC investigation by causing an attorney to urge the agency to drop a complaint against the Margolies campaign that had been filed by State Sen. Daylin Leach, then a rival for the Democratic nomination. The FEC dismissed the complaint.

Margolies, at one time known as Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, is a Wynnewood resident and a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government. From 1993 to 1995, she represented Pennsylvania’s 13th District in the U.S. House.  She declined to comment.