A good-government activist and supporter of a rival candidate yesterday filed an ethics complaint against City Councilman Frank DiCicco.
Norma Van Dyke's complaint to the Philadelphia Board of Ethics asks the board to look into charges contained in last week's federal corruption indictment of State Sen. Vince J. Fumo, a longtime patron and ally of DiCicco's.
The indictment, to which Fumo has pleaded not guilty, accuses the powerful senator of inappropriately using state and charity money to dispense personal and political favors.
DiCicco, who has not been charged with a crime, was one of the alleged recipients of those favors, including the installation of hardwood flooring and regular snow removal courtesy of a Fumo-controlled nonprofit, and assistance against political foes provided by a contractor on the state payroll.
Van Dyke's complaint asks the board to look into whether the gifts and services complied with the city's ethics code, and whether they were properly reported.
DiCicco denounced the complaint as political.
Though Van Dyke said she plays no role in the campaign of Vern Anastasio, who is trying to unseat DiCicco in the May 15 Democratic primary, she said she supports Anastasio and spoke to him Sunday to let him know she would be filing the complaint.
"It's obviously politically motivated, in my opinion, and I welcome the investigation, because they're not going to find anything," DiCicco said. "If the federal government, after four years of investigating [the nonprofit], did not indict me, I don't think anything's going to happen with the ethics board."
"Perhaps they're not illegal, but it doesn't sound like they're ethical," said Van Dyke, a Society Hill retiree and founder of Philadelphians United to Restore Ethics. "I think it's up to the ethics board to determine that."
Shane Creamer, the ethics board's interim executive director, said he received the complaint late yesterday. Created as the result of a referendum last year, the board was sworn in only in late November and has not yet established a protocol for how to deal with complaints from the public.
Without commenting on Van Dyke's complaint, Creamer said the board was empowered to investigate and issue fines for violations. The maximum is $1,500 per violation.
Van Dyke said the main weapon in the board's arsenal was the power of the pulpit.
"They can make it known to the community, and they can take that with them to the polls," she said.