Milton Street: Don’t you dare call me a felon

 In launching his campaign last year, Milton Street told NewsWorks that he 'doesn't give a fat rat's hind leg' about 'elitists' who think he shouldn't run for office again. (Brian Hickey/WHYY)

In launching his campaign last year, Milton Street told NewsWorks that he 'doesn't give a fat rat's hind leg' about 'elitists' who think he shouldn't run for office again. (Brian Hickey/WHYY)

As mayoral-campaign problems go, the one that has T. Milton Street, Sr., angry is uniquely Miltonian.

Namely, Street can’t quite figure out why someone would brand him a “felon” during a discussion about the mayoral race on 6ABC’s “Inside Edition.” This, because while Street has done some federal time, ’twasn’t for a felony.

In recent days, former Mayor John Street’s older brother has waged something of a Facebook war against his alleged hater, local writer Nia Meeks.

“Defamation of character at the very beginning of a campaign is hard to overcome,” Street wrote in a post Monday. “I plan to go to court, and some judge will tell the voters Milton Street has never been convicted of a felony. The most egregious thing that can happen to a candidate doing a political campaign, is when a seasoned respected reporter lies.”

To that end, Street retained the services of attorney Sean P. Stevens, who himself toyed with a run for the 194th state-house seat in Northwest Philadelphia last year.

Stevens issued a press release about said retainership on Tuesday. Here’s what it said:

Today, January 27, 2015, my services were retained by T. Milton Street in regards to a statement made by Nia Meeks on the January 25, 2015 edition of Inside Story that was broadcast on 6ABC.

It is the intention of T. Milton Street to explore all possible legal remedies in this matter.

The segment in which the statement was made was focused on mayoral candidates for the City of Philadelphia.

Nia Meeks, an experienced award winning journalist, asserted that my client was a convicted felon. This statement is simply inaccurate as to my client, T. Milton Street, and the depiction of my client as a felon is extremely damaging to my client as he possibly begins his candidacy for Mayor of Philadelphia.

The entire statement made by Ms. Meeks during a roundtable discussion was, “He has the street cred of, I don’t know, he’s a former state rep and a former felon.”

By incorrectly stating that my client was a convicted felon Ms. Meeks has damaged my client’s ability to solicit funds from potential donors as these donors may now falsely believe that T. Milton Street would not be able to be seated as Mayor if elected.

This perception is incorrect as my client was convicted of three misdemeanor offenses under 26 U.S.C. Section 7203, and has never been convicted of a felony. The crimes my client were convicted of do not prevent him from holding office if he were to be elected by the public by either the City Charter or by the Constitution of our Commonwealth.

Ms. Meeks an experienced reporter who has worked for at least three publications and has served as a panelist on Inside Story for many years, either knew that the statement that she made was false or she showed reckless disregard for the actual truth in making her statement on Inside Story.

In stories about said kerfuffle, the Inquirer pointed out that Meeks serves as communications director for the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, while Citified noted that she “previously worked as a spokeswoman for mayoral candidate state Sen. Anthony Williams.”

Said Stevens on Tuesday afternoon, “I am investigating further whether Nia Meeks has done any campaign work, now or in the past, for any of the current candidates. Milton will guide the ultimate direction of this matter.”

As for Meeks, she was apologetic in the aftermath of Street’s public display of I-might-sue-edness, an anger stoked by the fact that he was actually watching “Inside Edition” at the time.

“Let me state clearly that I inadvertently misspoke Sunday on ‘Inside Story,'” she said. “Milton Street was convicted on misdemeanor — not felony — charges related to taxes. I am sorry I made the error.”

NinetyNine could not ascertain Wednesday morning whether that apology has enabled Street to return to planning his Feb. 17 campaign launch. We will update you as developments in the matter warrant.

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.