Philly DA Krasner fined $4K for super PAC campaign finance violation

In this file photo, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner speaks with members of the media during a news conference in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

In this file photo, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner speaks with members of the media during a news conference in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Updated: 2:18 p.m. EST

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and an allied political committee were fined by the city Board of Ethics for violating the local campaign finance laws.

A settlement agreement released by the board outlines an arrangement in which Krasner’s campaign enjoyed the services of three full-time staffers whose salaries were paid by the Real Justice PAC during the 2017 race for district attorney. The super PAC, now allied with activist Shaun King, supports DA candidates around the country who want to push criminal justice reform policies. King joined the group in 2018, a year after it was founded.

But the Board of Ethics found that the salaries and other costs paid to provide these “embedded” staffers, which amounted to $34,820, counted as in-kind contributions in excess of the city’s political contribution limits. In 2017, PACs were barred from contributing more than $23,800 to support DA candidates. That was double the normal limit because former candidate Michael Untermeyer had triggered a so-called “millionaires provision” by contributing large sums of money to his own campaign.

Adam Bonin, a lawyer for Krasner, chalked the breach up to simple confusion.

“Certainly this is something that, in the middle of a hectic campaign, with a first time candidate getting some support from a non-local group, that everyone intended to track and was missed,” he said. “This is something that Larry is happy to have resolved and we were happy to work with Ethics, which did a very thorough job in auditing the campaign.”

Krasner agreed to pay a $4,000 fine to settle the matter. Real Justice PAC agreed to pay $8,000. In addition to the fine, Krasner will also pay the city $11,000 to compensate for the excess contributions.

This is a corrected story.  An earlier version mischaracterized Shaun King’s involvement with the super PAC Real Justice.

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.