Bobby Henon quietly returns to City Council after his conviction in bribery trial

Councilmember Henon isn’t the only legislator who has kept quiet about the conviction. Just two out of 17 legislators released public statements.

A closeup of Bobby Henon

Philadelphia City Councilmember Bobby Henon walks to the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Three days after a federal jury convicted him of bribery and conspiracy, City Councilmember Bobby Henon participated in his first legislative session in more than a month. But over the course of the roughly two-hour meeting on Thursday, there was not a single mention of Monday’s high-profile verdict, which also saw a jury convict powerful labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Doughtery.

Henon, who has not said if he’ll appeal, remained quiet other than announcing his presence at the start of the session.

Thursday’s silence largely echoes the post-verdict hush from Councilmembers following Monday’s verdict. The day of the guilty verdict, just two out of 17 councilmembers released public statements.

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Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, in a statement issued Monday, called the corruption trial “a sad time for Philadelphia City Council.” She said Council must act to address the issues raised at trial, including a ban on outside employment for council members.

A total of four members of City Council, including Henon, have roles that bring in income.

“The potential for the appearance of conflict of interest is simply too strong and erodes the public trust. There can be no disputing that outside employment has the potential to compromise the integrity of our members,” said Quinonez-Sanchez.

Quiñones-Sánchez, who called on Henon to resign after he was indicted in 2019, did not attend Thursday’s session.

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Council President Darrell Clarke’s post-verdict statement did not call for Henon’s resignation or call for any other reforms. “While it is always difficult to learn of a guilty verdict on conspiracy charges of a member of this legislative body, the jury has spoken, and we respect its verdict,” he said.

Several council members on Thursday did take time to congratulate Ryan Boyer, business manager of the Laborers District Council, on his appointment as business manager of the Building Trades Council, an umbrella group for some of the city’s most influential unions. He is the first Black leader of the group.

None of them mentioned Dougherty, who Boyer is replacing. Dougherty on Wednesday resigned as business manager, a post he’s held since 2015.

Boyer will head a new slate of council leaders, which includes President Wayne Miller and Secretary Treasurer Pat Eiding.

“I wholeheartedly believe that this slate, this team of leaders, they will make sure that the work that labor does, particularly in the building trades, puts people on a path to self-sufficiency. They will make sure that Philadelphians from all walks of life have access to that opportunity,” said Councilmember Cherelle Parker.

On Monday, a jury found that Henon used his seat on Council to do Doughtery’s bidding. This in exchange for a $70,000 salary from Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the city’s most politically powerful union.

Both men face up to 20 years in prison for the most serious charges.

Dougherty, who has vowed to appeal, on Tuesday stepped down as business manager of Local 98, a post he held for three decades. Henon, who served on Council since 2011, is not legally required to resign from his 6th District seat until he is sentenced in February. And he has said he will wait until then.

Henon on Wednesday did step down from his committee chair roles, according to an internal memo obtained by WHYY. He led the Committee on Public Property and Public Works and Committee on Licenses and Inspections. He was vice-chair of the Committee on Finance and the Committee on Public Health and Human Services.

“I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to have served in leadership roles on these committees. I am proud of the work that we have accomplished and I am confident that my colleagues in City Council will continue to advance the work that we’ve done for the past 10 years,” Henon told Clarke in a letter obtained by WHYY.

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