Kiss of death for Doc?
By DAVE DAVIES
When FBI agents showed up to search union leader John Dougherty‘s South Philadelphia home last Friday morning, they took pictures of the house, sources said.
Dougherty is associated with several entities that have received grand-jury subpoenas over the last year, but the search of his home is the most direct engagement yet between Dougherty and federal investigators.
Dougherty has not responded to requests for comment on the search, which was reported in yesterday’s Inquirer.
Dougherty, 45, is business manager for Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and one of the most powerful labor leaders in the region. He’s also one of a half-dozen Democrats who have acknowledged they might run for mayor next year.
The precise nature of the feds’ interest in Dougherty couldn’t be learned yesterday, but union sources speculated that the search may be related to the probe of electrician Donald “Gus” Dougherty, whose business and home were raided by federal agents in January.
The two Doughertys are lifelong friends, and John Dougherty said in an April interview that “there’s no doubt” that among federal authorities “there’s interest in [Donald’s] relationship with myself.”
Several agents arrived shortly after 7 a.m. to execute a search warrant, sources familiar with the events said, and the fact they took photographs led some to connect the search to Gus Dougherty, who had done renovations on John Dougherty’s home.
Authorities have subpoenaed numerous documents from Local 98. One source said the feds were investigating whether John Dougherty may have used union funds to help Gus Dougherty.
The FBI and federal prosecutors declined comment on the search. An open question in the wake of the feds’ action is whether Dougherty can wage a viable mayoral campaign with the cloud of an FBI investigation hanging over him.
“You can, but it’s difficult,” said Republican political consultant Chris Mottola. “A lot obviously depends on whether other shoes drop, whether more damaging information comes out.
“The trick, if you’re running [for office] while under investigation, is to be able to spin it, to create an enemy,” Mottola said, “like John Street, turning the investigation into a George Bush, Karl Rove plot.”
DAILY NEWS: What’s Up, Doc?
VOLK: “With reports in the Inquirer that he was running federally indicted City Councilman Rick Mariano’s office, his candidacy could have a hard time getting off the ground.”