This article was published by Philly.Com on May 13, 2015. Click here to read the article on the publisher’s website.
Remember that time that Council President Darrell L. Clarke was teasing everyone about running for mayor and holding fundraisers all over town and in New York?
Well, Clarke’s PAC accrued a half-million dollar war chest this past winter. But the Council President then decided he would not run for mayor.
Clarke recently flung the money chest open. He is helping out his Council colleagues who face a tough fight at the polls next week, as well as one Council newcomer running unopposed.
(Clarke is running unopposed in the Fifth District Council Democratic primary.)
Clarke’s campaign finance reports filed Friday show that Friends of Darrell Clarke gave $10,000 each to at-large Democratic incumbents Bill Greenlee, Blondell Reynolds Brown, Wilson Goode Jr. and Ed Neilson. He also gave $5,000 to Republican incumbent Dennis O’Brien.
The at-large candidates are the most vulnerable in next week’s election.
Friends of Darrell Clarke also gave $10,000 to state Rep. Cherelle Parker who is running unopposed to replace Ninth District Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco, who is retiring.
Second District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who is being challenged by developer Ori Feibush, received $5,000 from Clarke.
Through a spokesman, Clarke said: “I am fortunate enough to be able to help out my colleagues who deserve re-election. Simple as that.”
The big checks from the sitting Council President are common practice. Former Council President Anna Verna was also known to give out big checks.
“It’s very smart of him to do that,” said former Councilman Bill Green.
The council members who are beneficiaries of Clarke’s generosity would be more likely to vote for him for president, Green said.
Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, who did not receive a donation from Clarke, said the checks are also a “thank you” gesture for the last four years.
“He’s being supportive,” Sanchez said. “It’s not unusual.”
O’Brien, however, received some heat Tuesday for taking Clarke’s money.
Republican at-large Council candidate Matt Wolfe said Clarke’s $5,000 “preserve(s) O’Brien as a reliable vote for his agenda.”
“Councilman O’Brien has stood shoulder to shoulder with Darrell Clarke and the Democrats on City Council, voting for the cigarette tax, voting to make the “temporary” sales tax permanent, voting for a bill that forces employers in Philadelphia to give paid leave to employees that is not in effect anywhere else in the state and killing the deal to sell PGW,” Wolfe said.
Clarke raised an additional $103,850 from January through May 4. Within that period, he spent $256,250, including the checks he gave to his colleagues. That left him with $350,000 to spend as of Friday.