Michael Bloomberg, ‘Johnny Doc’ come up big for Kenney’s re-election bid

Mayor Jim Kenney (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Mayor Jim Kenney (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is getting some high-profile help in his re-election bid from indicted labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday.

The union Dougherty leads, Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, made a $200,000 contribution to Philly 2019, a super PAC formed this year to run ads supporting Kenney.

Bloomberg gave $1 million to a separate super PAC called Forward Together Philadelphia. His check represents the bulk of the $1.25 million it has raised for the effort.

Together, the two PACs have spent more than $1.4 million, mostly on television ads, supporting Kenney.

Kenney himself has been hard to find on the campaign trail, and he hasn’t yet run a single TV ad.

While Kenney and other candidates must adhere to contribution limits under city law, super PACs and other “independent expenditure” committees can raise and spent unlimited sums under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United court decision.

The independent committees are not permitted to coordinate activities with candidates they support.

Because of those restrictions, Kenney has no say in what either super PAC does or how they raise money.

When asked about campaign help from Dougherty — Kenney’s biggest single Philadelphia supporter in his race four years ago — Kenney has said that the contributions from Local 98 are from its members, not the leaders who face theft and fraud charges.

Kenney’s two primary opponents in the May 21 primary, state Sen. Anthony Williams and former City Controller Alan Butkovitz, have little campaign cash as the race comes down to its last days.

But Kenney has been the target of more than $1.1 million in spending by the American Beverage Association, which has attacked Kenney and the city’s tax on sweetened beverages.

Those attacks, no doubt, played a role in Bloomberg’s involvement in the race. He has contributed in the past to efforts to pass and defend the city tax, and he’s been a national crusader against sugary beverages.

Besides the super PAC spending, reports filed Friday showed Kenney’s campaign with a big lead over this rivals.

Kenney has spent $752,000 this year and had $703,000 on hand as of Monday, the cutoff date for the filing. Williams had spent $113,000 and had $51,000 on hand. Butkovitz spent $99,000 and had $42,000 on hand.

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