Federal judge upholds ban on political contributions by Philly cops

    A federal judge has upheld a ban on political contributions by Philadelphia police officers, thwarting a move by City Council that could have turned the local Fraternal Order of Police into a powerful political force.

    The decision by Judge Juan Sanchez may be appealed. FOP attorney Tom Jennings said he’ll consider that after he reviews the decision.

    The city charter originally banned cops and firefighters from making political contributions, but in 2003, a court decision gave firefighters the right to donate to candidates of their choice.

    City Council voted to let police officers make contributions through paycheck deductions to their union political fund, but the Philadelphia Board of Ethics blocked the move. Executive Director Shane Creamer cited a pattern of corruption before the charter banned political contributions

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    “That history of political corruption included forced contributions in order to get a job as a police officer and in order to advance in the police department, and led to biased enforcement of the law,” Creamer said in an interview.

    The FOP went to court, saying the contribution ban violated the officers’ right of free expression.

    But Sanchez rejected that argument, saying the special role of police officers justifies a different standard of conduct.

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