Philadelphia Need Ethics Reform

Unless We Restore Integrity In Philadelphia's Governmental/Political Process...

Philadelphians Will Continue To Pose The Question: For Whom Is The City Run?

In recent month, indictments and critiques of the city's "pay-to-play" culture have eroded confidence in the city's political system.

  • Philadelphia lacks meaningful limits on the amounts of political contributions
  • Individuals and firms are virtually unchecked in their ability to receive no-bid city contracts

This combination creates an environment where many are eager to play (for example, by offering or seeking lucrative contracts) and willing to pay (for example, by making or soliciting campaign contributions).

  • Donors may demand benefits in exchange for political contributions
  • Politicians may demand contributions in exchange for access to contracts
  • Qualified potential vendors, candidates, and donors may simply choose not to participate, leaving us will a smaller pool of participants
  • Office seekers are forced to raise significant amounts in campaign funding, which may make raising money more important than interacting with voters in the electoral process
  • Individuals who want to abuse the system find many legal ways to use political involvement as a way to access public dollars or to use public funds to reward political supporters

How Does This Affect You?

On or about June 24, 2003, KEMP discussed the fees for the NTI line of credit with the City's financial advisor on the deal. When KEMP and the financial advisor mentioned WHITE, the advisor said, "I mean Ron White, they didn't really do anything." KEMP stated, "I know, they are just going to get paid just for the hell of it." The advisor said she would call WHITE. The next morning, KEMP told WHITE, "you'll probably get a call on the NTI deal, on terms of the fees, probably get a call." WHITE said, "the NTI deal?" KEMP said, "you know that little, line of credit we did." WHITE said, "oh yeah, right, right, Jerry working on that?," referring to an associate in WHITE's firm. KEMP replied, "no, I don't know how much he's working on it but he, you know, he's still gonna get paid, f--- it." KEMP said WHITE would be paid $35,000 or $40,000….

KEMP also provided confidential information to WHITE which permitted RPC to overcharge the City for printing on bond transactions. In reality, RPC did not actually perform any financial printing, and contrary to defendant JANICE RENEE KNIGHT's false representations to others, did not have the equipment necessary for that task. Rather, with respect to every financial printing contract RPC received, it referred the work to another printing company, and then simply marked up the bill from that company, sometimes by more than 400%. WHITE and KNIGHT therefore knew and intended that RPC would receive work from the City not in a fair, merit-based process but simply because of WHITE's ability to secure the contracts from KEMP and other City officials.

Is It Like This Elsewhere?

Can Philadelphia Reform The "Pay-To-Play" System?

  • Philadelphia voters already enacted a Charter change to prohibit major campaign contributors from receiving no-bid public contracts and add transparency to the process of awarding no-bid contracts. Similar changes to prohibit contributors from receiving other assistance is also needed.
  • The Mayor's 21st Century Review Forum offered an ambitous package of recommendations for ethics reform including recommendations to restrict campaign contributions by individuals or firms receiving no-bid contracts.
  • Philadelphia voters established a powerful and independent Ethics Board to enforce ethics-related laws in Philadelphia.

The "Pay-To-Play" Culture Holds Philadelphia Back

Ethics Reform Can Move Philadelphia Forward