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Inquirer Editorial: Philadelphia Politicians Are Constantly Under FBI Probes

police tapeBy Editorial Board
Philadelphia Inquirer

An FBI raid of the home and offices of electricians Local 98 boss John J. “Johnny Doc” Dougherty doesn’t mean he is guilty of anything. But the fact that the Justice Department keeps finding reason to investigate a union leader with strong ties to powerful elected officials is more than a bit unsettling in a city that only weeks ago saw a congressman convicted of corruption.

Federal agents similarly searched Dougherty’s home 10 years ago in trying to determine the source of mysterious bank deposits that they said suggested “an effort to conceal financial dealings.” Dougherty was given $200,000 to ren
ovate his home by his wife’s parents, his lawyer said. Investigators responded that Dougherty’s in-laws lived “paycheck to paycheck.” But no charges were filed.

In addition to Dougherty’s house, FBI agents executed search warrants Friday at his sister’s house next door; his union offices; the Mount Laurel home of Local 98 president Brian Burrows; and the City Hall and district offices of Councilman Bobby Henon, a former Local 98 political director. Henon, a rising star since his 2011 election, earlier this year ousted Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. as majority leader.

A source told the Inquirer that the FBI’s current focus was on the union’s finances and its involvement in the successful political campaigns last year of Mayor Kenney and state Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, John’s younger brother. Kenney spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said he had no reason to believe the investigation was related to him. Justice Dougherty provided no immediate comment.

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