The Real Rebecca Rhynhart
According to the most recent campaign filing, real estate developers are among the largest funders to the Rhynhart’s mayoral campaign. They include parking magnate Joseph Zuritsky; William Hankowsky , former CEO of Liberty Property Trust; and Devin Touhey of the gentrifying Concordia group (per City of Philadelphia Campaign Finance Filing System). In this campaign cycle, the owners of Lindy Real Estate are Rhynhart’s biggest individual funders.
State and local Republican party leaders also support Rhynhart. Joel L. Frank, a former General Counsel for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania is a major Rhynhart donor, as is Cozen and O’Conner, a law firm now under the leadership of a former Trump lawyer.
Ms. Rhynhart’s website lists no union endorsements. Nor does her web page show endorsements from any environmental groups or advocates for the low-income. No progressive elected official or group has endorsed her.
Rhynhart raised over $769,000 in a questionable way. She sought money for her Controller’s race and then, without the permission of the donors, turned it over to her Mayoral campaign. If the Inquirer had reported this, they could have informed their readers that among those donors are Comcast’s PAC , Independence Blue Cross’ PAC, and University Housing Company which is now evicting low-income families.
Some of Rhynhart’s claims about her record don’t hold water. Rhynhart did not initiate or write the report regarding policing for which she takes credit. City Council initiated the study, and Rhynhart hired others to do it. The Inquirer: “In response to Council’s request and pursuant to Section 6-400(c) of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, the Controller’s Office undertook a review of PPD’s spending and resource allocation. The Controller’s Office engaged Stout Risius Ross, LLC to conduct this engagement”.
Rhynhart includes in her record of accomplishments as City Controller finding $33 million in the City budget that was unaccounted for. Actually, those funds were “lost” during the time she served as City Treasurer in the Nutter administration and Budget Director in the Kenney administration. And internal control issues have been cited by auditors since 2002, without Rhynhart ever fixing them.
Rhynhart has been portrayed as an outsider, running against the Democratic Party machine. But in this mayoral race, Rhynhart has been endorsed by many ward leaders. Her campaign manager is well connected to the Democratic Party structure.
The Rhynhart campaign has paid former Mayor John Street over $50,000 in consulting fees. And after paying Mayor Street, Rynhart’s campaign announced the former mayor’s endorsement. (To verify payments, go here, and type in John Street’s name.)
Like other candidates, Ms. Rhynhart has a super PAC supporting her. This one is billionaire-backed and created, with questionable connections to a former Mayor.
It was jump-started by Richard Vague, a billionaire who made his fortune marketing high-interest-rate credit cards and served as the campaign treasurer for her controller’s race. The super PAC is being run by the senior advisor to the presidential campaign of one of the richest men on Earth, Michael Bloomberg. The manager, Michael Berman, is a partner with former Mayor Nutter in a public affairs firm. The former Mayor was the National Political Chair for Bloomberg’s Presidential race and a paid consultant. After Bloomberg’s staff’s involvement with the Rhynhart super PAC, Nutter, currently, a spokesperson for a Bloomberg project, endorsed Ms. Rhynhart.
Given her attachment to billionaires, it’s no surprise that she points to “lowering the Business Income and Receipts Tax as the key goal” of her economic development proposals. No matter that doing so will rob the City of the revenues it needs to implement any new proposals to lift up our people.
As Nutter’s Treasurer, Rhynhart was a driving force in the attempted sale of the Philadelphia Gas Works, which would raise gas rates. On her watch, Nutter’s budget also slashed public libraries and pools, resulting in mass protests. There is no evidence she ever protested Nutter’s enthusiastic turn to Stop and Frisk police tactics.
Rhynhart promises that her administration will be “data-driven”, using the corporate terminology she learned in her seven years working on Wall Street. It means that numbers and algorithms will be given more consideration than the will of the people. Is there anyone reviewing this that really believes Ms. Rhynhart is an Elizabeth Warren Democrat?
Written by Lance Haver, an independent not voting in the Democratic Primary.