The year 2012 was an incriminating one for the Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania's 1st district, in the heart of Philadelphia.
Federal prosecutors charged two aides to longtime Rep. Robert A. Brady in October with making illegal campaign contributions on Brady’s behalf to a 2012 primary opponent.
But Brady’s newest challenger, former Philly traffic court judge Willie Singletary, can do the incumbent one better: 2012 is the year Singletary resigned his post after allegedly showing a female court employee pictures of his genitals, inquiring after, “Do you like that?”
That same year, Singletary was involved in a ticket-fixing scheme that cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. He later served a 20-month prison sentence for lying to the FBI in its 2013 investigation into the scandal.
“Even though I made some mistakes, I’m not a mistake,” Singletary, a church pastor, said in a video in late December announcing his bid to unseat Brady. “And just like many in our community, we all could use a fresh start.”
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The embattled former judge and his allies say he deserves a shot at redemption since he was never even found guilty of corruption — just lying to the FBI.
“Marion Barry was the mayor of D.C. He was on film smoking a crack pipe, and he was elected mayor. So I think voters are forgiving people,” Singletary's lawyer, William J. Brennan said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
At the time of his sentencing in 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence F. Stengel indicated Singletary’s record revealed the farcical nature of local politics in Philadelphia. When Singletary ascended to the bench in 2008, the highest educational degree he had achieved was a high school diploma. He was a 26-year-old with no practical law experience.
“How someone so unqualified for this office can be elected says more to me about the diseased political system that puts this person up for office than it does about Mr. Singletary himself,” Stengel said at the time.
But Singletary believes it is time to move on. And representing his hometown in Washington is the way to make amends.
“I don’t want to be stuck in my past,” he told the Inquirer last week. “Neither should my past hinder me from my future.”
As for Brady, he appears to have escaped the legal scythe after Justice Department lawyers allowed a series of agreements Brady had signed extending the five-year window in which he could be charged to expire last month. Those extensions allowed the FBI to continue to investigate Brady but also gave Brady’s lawyers more time to convince investigators the Pennsylvania Democrat had done nothing wrong.
His lawyers, Jamie Eisenhower and Ronald Levine, have repeatedly said their client did nothing wrong and declined to comment after Jones’ plea.
Brady is in his 10th term in the House and is the ranking member on the Administrative Committee.