Councilman Oh staff fined by Philly ethics board

The Philadelphia Board of Ethics has fined three current and former employees of City Councilman David Oh for working on his re-election campaign on city time. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Board of Ethics has fined three current and former employees of City Councilman David Oh for working on his re-election campaign on city time. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Board of Ethics has cited and fined three employees of Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh for working on Oh’s re-election campaign last year while on the city clock.

Council employees are barred from political work on city time, and they’re barred from political fundraising at any time.

The ethics board found that the employees — office manager Donald Tippett, director of policy Lois Kang and former chief of staff Stuart Graham — violated the rules. They have agreed to pay the penalties – $1,500 for Kang, and $900 each for Tippett and Graham.

Many of the violations involve working on fundraising events for Oh.

Even though the penalties come a year after the election, they have an impact on all city employees, said Shane Creamer, ethics board executive director.

“These investigations do take time,” Creamer said. “The value is that these employees are being held accountable for violating the political activity restrictions in the charter.”

Creamer said the ethics board has pursued about a dozen cases of prohibited political activity over a decade.

Vigorous enforcement and regular training to educate employees about the rules are making a difference.

“Occasionally we’re going to have these violations,” Creamer said, “but I think we are certainly seeing a lot less political activity under these kinds of circumstances than perhaps occurred long ago.”

Though the prohibited activities involved his campaign, Oh was not accused of wrongdoing in the case.

Graham retired from the city earlier this year. The other two employees will keep their jobs.

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