One unexpected twist (at least to NinetyNine, which briefly forgot that nothing can be labeled truly unexpected in local politics) of the Philadelphia Board of Ethics fining a city employee for engaging in banned political activity was this juicy morsel from The Next Mayor project’s Daily News wing:
Cameron Kline, spokesman for District Attorney Seth Williams, got himself in a bit of trouble late last month when he sent out a press release attacking Republican mayoral candidate Melissa Murray Bailey on behalf of the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club.
By sending the press release – which blasted Bailey for accepting campaign contributions from a donor that Liberty City described as “homophobic” – Kline violated the City Charter. As Williams’ spokesman, he is prohibited from engaging in political activity.
But, apparently, Kline was moonlighting as a messenger for Democratic mayoral candidate Jim Kenney.
According to a settlement agreement that the city’s Board of Ethics just released, Kline sent the email after a representative from Kenney’s campaign “emailed the co-chair of the board of Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club and asked if the organization would be willing to issue a statement about online comments made by the largest contributor to the Republican nominee for Mayor. The Kenney campaign provided the text of the proposed statement, a list of reporters’ email addresses, and screenshots of Facebook posts made by the contributor.”
Kenney’s spokeswoman Lauren Hitt told the Daily News that the campaign “flagged the comment for the group because they are important advocates in speaking out against LGBT discrimination.”
Well, the matter landed Kline a fine and ethics-training appointment and afforded Bailey an opening to tee off on a foe who conventional Philly-political wisdom says can’t lose.
In comments made to NinetyNine on Thursday night, Bailey didn’t seem all that keen on brushing the matter off typical Philly shenanigans.
She framed the situation as emblematic of Kenney recklessly endangering the professional well-being of someone for his political gain (despite the fact that the article notes Kline “didn’t participate in discussions with the Kenney campaign.”)
“This summer, Jim Kenney made a cognizant decision to endanger the livelihood of the Council Sergeant at Arms and the DA spokesman. He put his campaign above the needs of others,” she said. “And for what? To attack my campaign. The campaign that supposedly doesn’t stand a chance?
“He’s reckless. He’s showing that his track record as an ineffective legislator would continue as an impotent mayor. He is using his so-called friends in city government as pawns to attack me because he’s a coward and refuses to face me on the key issues on the biggest stage. As a consequence, he’s endangering other people’s livelihoods. If he has done this to his friends, imagine what he would do to the people of Philadelphia.”
To Bailey, these transgressions are evidence of an opponent who knows “that I’m a legit candidate [and that] my messages and vision resonates with voters. … Despite the odds, I’ve run a people-first campaign and not a mudslinging campaign, unlike my opponent who doesn’t have the courage to sling the mud himself.”
Asked for a response to the overarching sense of Bailey’s comments, Hitt told NinetyNine on Friday morning that “we saw an instance of homophobia and we brought it to the attention of one of the city’s largest LGBT advocacy groups.”
Those comments came moments before the campaign issued a press release titled “Kenney Authors Op-Ed Calling for LGBT Inclusion in Papal Visit” with a link to a Thursday guest column in the Philadelphia Gay News.