Newly released court documents show that federal prosecutors feared Rep. Robert Brady would influence a witness in an alleged payoff scheme his campaign used to force a former opponent to drop out of the race.
Prosecutors asked to keep the records sealed until after the witness’s plea deal, warning of a “significant danger” the Pennsylvania Democrat posed toward the investigation.
The documents unsealed late Tuesday night show a former aide to Brady’s 2012 challenger, senior Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore, pled guilty to conspiring to conceal a payoff scheme. Carolyn Cavaness, 34, admitted Friday to falsifying records to the Federal Elections Commission as part of her role in a money transfer from Brady’s campaign to Moore.
While neither Brady or Moore are named in the court documents, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia said the case centers on Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District, the seat Brady has held since 1998. The documents suggest Brady’s political action committee secretly transferred $90,000 to Moore, who eventually dropped out of the primary.
Neither Brady nor Moore have been charged with any wrongdoing.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reached Brady for comment Tuesday night, but the congressman referred the inquiry to Ken Smukler, his longtime consultant.
“You have to talk to Kenny,” Brady told the Inquirer. “They did all that. That’s five years ago. I don’t remember none of that.”
Smukler’s lawyer Brian McMonagle said, “Ken Smukler has done nothing wrong and is completely innocent of any criminal wrongdoing.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Gibson motioned last month for a judge to seal records related to Cavaness’s plea deal. He cited concerns that Brady “would attempt to contact [her] in a corrupt attempt to influence [her] decision.”
Gibson said Brady sought out another witness in April after FBI agents met with the congressman.
“The government submits that this conduct by [Brady] was intended to influence [that person’s] account of the matter under investigation,” Gibson wrote.
Brady, who has chaired the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee since 1986, joins his former House colleague, former Rep. Chaka Fattah as the latest congressman from Philadelphia to come under FBI scrutiny. Fattah and his son, Chaka Fattah Jr., are both serving time for corruption related crimes.
Brady is now in his 10th term in Congress and is the top Democrat on the House’s administrative committee.