January 30, 2019—John Dougherty—the head of IBEW Local 98 and long-recognized as one of the most powerful political players in the state—has been indicted on charges of embezzlement, bribery, and theft as part of a major, multi-year federal investigation.

Among the charges are that Dougherty—or “Johnny Doc”, as he’s widely known—used union funds for personal gain and used union money to bribe Philadelphia Councilman Bobby Henon to do Dougherty’s bidding.

Here’s why this is significant.

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently called Johnny Doc “the most powerful pol[itician] in Pennsylvania who’s never won an election.” The Inquirer is right. Separately, the paper noted IBEW “money and manpower have helped elect mayors, City Council members, county commissioners, members of Congress, state legislators, governors, and more than 60 judges — including the union leader’s brother, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty.”

You’ll recall Justice Dougherty is part of the Democratic majority that hijacked the role of the state Legislature last year and imposed a new congressional district map on Pennsylvania.

And last election cycle, Johnny Doc’s union gave tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates in Pennsylvania, and more than $650,000 to Tom Wolf’s re-election. In other words—Johnny Doc has been one of the primary political powerhouses working against many of our interests.

It should be noted that while none of the charges are against the union itself—indeed, IBEW 98’s hardworking members are the victims of Dougherty’s corruption—Johnny Doc is the political kingpin who pulls the strings on the union’s political activity and spending.

Now, he’s under indictment for abusing his position, robbing IBEW’s members, and bribing elected officials. Dougherty, along with his co-defendants, is scheduled to appear in federal court this Friday at 1:30 pm.

Make no mistake: these charges will have serious implications for the political scene not only in Philadelphia but also across the state, as multiple elected officials—including Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and PA Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty—owe their offices in no small part to Johnny Doc’s patronage.

This development also underscores the importance of our work in helping elect principled candidates to legislative and judicial seats—candidates who cannot be bought but who instead will uphold the rule of law.

Here are several articles of interest relating to today’s development:

And if you’d like to read the full indictment, it can be found here.

# # #