Politics

Campaign Aide to Rep. Robert Brady Found Guilty on 9 Counts

Feds secure conviction on fraud spread over multiple election cycles

A federal jury found Rep. Robert Brady’s aide, Kenneth Smukler, guilty of 11 counts of breaking campaign finance laws. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A federal jury found Rep. Robert Brady’s top political strategist, Kenneth Smukler, guilty on nine counts of breaking campaign finance laws and obstructing a Federal Election Commission investigation.

The jury found Smukler guilty of conspiracy to violate federal law, making and causing unlawful campaign contributions and causing false statements to the FEC in connection with a 2012 congressional primary campaign in a Philadelphia-area congressional district.

“Smukler was the mastermind of multiple crooked political schemes,” said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “He showed a true pattern of deception by misusing funds and lying to corrupt the entire political process. The only way to guarantee open and fair elections is to have everyone play by the same rules. Smukler ignored those rules and broke the law so that his candidates could try to win at all costs. We are grateful that the jury saw through his lies and held him accountable for his widespread criminal conduct.”

Smukler, 57, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts of causing unlawful campaign contributions, one count of causing false campaign expenditure reports, two counts of causing false statements, two counts of making contributions in the name of another, and one count of obstruction. He was acquitted on two charges related to making false statements to the FEC. 

The conviction is related to Brady’s run in the the 2012 Democratic primary election for Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, in which he ran against former Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore. Federal prosecutors say that Smukler orchestrated a scheme in which the Brady campaign made an illegal $90,000 donation to Moore to get him to drop out of the race. Smukler arranged for the Moore campaign to receive the money.

The next election cycle also included deception by Smukler. When his candidate, former Rep. Marjorie Margolies, lost the primary election, there were not sufficient campaign funds to repay donors who contributed for the general election. (Margolies is the mother-in-law of Chelsea Clinton.) Smuckler funneled illegal contributions totaling $150,000 from an associate to the campaign through his consulting companies, according to federal prosecutors.

Smukler’s sentencing is scheduled for March 13, 2019.

Brady, an 11-term congressman, has denied any wrongdoing in the federal corruption investigation. He announced in January that he would not seek re-election. 

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