Opinion| President Trump carried Pennsylvania in 2016 in a major surprise and Democrats plans to reclaim the state as their own is key to unseating Trump in 2020.
Wednesday’s announcement that Philadelphia labor kingpin John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, along with 6 cronies, on a 116-count indictment that includes embezzlement, bribery and theft, threatens the hopes of national Democrats to reclaim control over Pennsylvania’s electoral votes in 2020.
Dougherty’s union is the single biggest independent source of campaign funding in Pennsylvania.
All seven of the accused are affiliated with Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
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In making the announcement Federal officials revealed details of their long-running investigation into the region’s largest electrical union and its influential leader at a Wednesday morning press conference.
Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon was also among those charged with embezzlement, bribery, and theft. Henon has a paid position with the IBEW.
The indictments come more than two years after the FBI and IRS raided union sites, homes, and offices tied to those involved with union.
It’s hard to overstate Dougherty’s power in Pennsylvania: His union’s heavy purse and legendary get-out-the-vote operation helped elect congressmen, governors, judges, mayors, state legislators, and city council members. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 was a major donor to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, played a critical role in putting Democratic Congressman Brendan Boyle in office, and was almost single-handedly responsible for making Jim Kenney the mayor of Philadelphia.
A few years before the nation’s high-stakes midterm elections, the union’s deep pockets helped put three justices on the state Supreme Court, including Dougherty’s brother, Kevin.
That paved the way for the Democratic-controlled court to radically redraw the state’s congressional map last year and that lead to the Democratic pickup of a handful of congressional seats this past November.
Longtime political observer Larry Ceisler predicted this bust “will have national implications for 2020 in Pennsylvania if John and 98 are sidelined. You’re talking about potentially millions of dollars, let alone their different operations for get-out-the vote.”
“When people run for president, John’s on the list of people they call in Pennsylvania.”