Carpenters fueling pro-Kenney super PAC

     Former 6-term city councilman Jim Kenney  (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    Former 6-term city councilman Jim Kenney (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    If you follow the Balkanized world of Philadelphia politics, you know that carpenters union, which has been shut out of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, has endorsed state Sen. Anthony Williams in the Philadelphia mayor’s race.

    But apparently not all carpenters agree.

    Campaign finance reports filed today show that the Carpenters’ Fund for Growth and Prosperity, based in Edison, N.J., recently contributed $750,000 to a newly-created committee called The Turnout Project, and $725,000 of it quickly went to a super PAC that’s running TV ads promoting former City Councilman Jim Kenney’s candidacy.

    How could that happen?

    Apparently John Dougherty, business manager of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, an avid Kenney supporter, is involved.

    When I called the contact person on the finance report of The Turnout Project to ask about the contributions, she said someone would soon get back to me.

    Within a few minutes, I got the following statement from Local 98 spokesman Frank Keel: “The International Carpenters Union clearly understands that John Dougherty is consistently on the right side of the issues‎ and they want to work with him.”

    Here are the details, as revealed in The Turnout Project’s report:

    The Carpenters Fund for Growth and Prosperity of Edison, N.J. made contributions of $250,000 (on April 4th) and $500,000 (on May 1st) to The Turnout Project.

    The Turnout Project contributed $225,000 (on April 23rd) and $500,000 (on May 1st) to the Build a Better Pa. Fund, which has spent a little over $700,00 on TV ads for Kenney.

    Building a Better Pa. Fund’s campaign finance report shows it raisesd about $1.4 million, about a third of that from Local 98.

    So what does it mean that Philly carpenters are backing Williams and some aren’t?

    I reached out to a Martin O’Rourke, spokesman from Ed Coryell, business manager of the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters here in Philadelphia.

    He wrote back with this:

    Here is a statement from Frank Spencer, Eastern District Vice President, United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America: “The UBCJA unequivocally supports Ed Coryell and our leadership in Philadelphia – as well as the local political decisions the Regional Council makes.”

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.