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Philadelphia Election Official Fined For Ethics Violation

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- City commissioner Anthony Clark has been fined $4,000 by the city's Board of Ethics for getting involved in discussions about a pay raise for his brother, who has a job in his office.

Commissioner Clark -- one of three officials who oversee Philadelphia elections -- has reached a settlement agreement with the Board of Ethics in a matter involving his brother, Alex, who works in Anthony Clark's office as a trades helper.

Michael Cooke, director of enforcement for the Ethics Board, says Commissioner Clark has admitted to three violations.

The first, a failure to disclose a potential conflict of interest and to disqualify himself.

"In the agreement, the commissioner has acknowledged that he failed to file a disclosure and disqualification letter, to remove himself from action involving his brother," Cooke tells KYW Newsradio.

Cooke says having a sibling on the city payroll is not, in and of itself, a problem, but an official needs to disclose it and disqualify himself from actions involving the sibling.

"Under the city's Ethics Code, the conflict of interest rules mean that Commissioner Clark is prohibited from taking any official action with regard to his brother.  He was required to disclose the fact that his brother had an interest that could be affected by his action, and then disqualify himself from it," Cooke explains.

The second violation, Cooke says, is that Clark failed to remove himself from discussions about a raise for his brother.

Alex Clark, the Ethics Board had alleged, was given a pay increase amounting to nearly $7,000 a year above his job class -- a raise that the agreement notes was initiated by Commissioner Clark.   The increase was later rescinded.

The third violation, according to the settlement agreement, is that Clark failed to cooperate with the Ethics Board's investigation of the matter.   The board had alleged that Clark attempted to influence the testimony of a witness.

Clark was fined $1,000 each for the first two violations and $2,000 for the third.

After the agreement was announced, Clark's attorney, Jimmie Moore, told KYW Newsradio that Clark had not participated in discussions involving his brother's pay rate.

"The commissioner did not participate in those discussions -- he was present," Moore said.

Anthony Clark himself did not return our phone call seeking comment but issued a statement calling the matter "a technical violation" of the ethics code, and admitting no wrongdoing.  "This settlement confirms that I had no involvement whatsoever in my brother's employment matters," Clark's statement said.

Clark, who recently won the Democratic nomination for another term as city commissioner, made news last fall when the City Paper found that he had not bothered to vote since 2011 -- the last time he was up for re-election.



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