Ethics board sues Philly ward PAC over campaign finance reports

Ed Nesmith

Ed Nesmith

The Philadelphia Board of Ethics is suing a political action committee with ties to Second Ward Leader Ed Nesmith over the group’s repeated failure to file campaign finance reports. 

The PAC, cryptically named “Citizens Organizing Pennsylvania’s Security,” or COPS, has received (and spent) hundreds of thousands of dollars from figures like developer Ori Feibush and councilmembers like Allan Domb, Helen Gym, and Mark Squilla. COPS has been described by the Inquirer as a fundraising vehicle for Nesmith, but it is officially headed by his associate, Kevin Price. 

Price is also named in the suit, which was announced at a Board of Ethics meeting earlier today. Nesmith has maintained that he is only a “consultant” hired by COPS.

“The Board’s petition alleges that C.O.P.S. PAC and its treasurer, Kevin Price, failed to file required campaign finance reports with the Board in 2015 despite spending tens of thousands of dollars to influence City elections that year,” said the board’s executive director, Shane Creamer. “We are seeking a court order compelling them to file the late reports and to pay a civil penalty.”

The penalty for failing to file a campaign finance report runs up to $1,000 for each month the reports remain unfiled. Cumulatively, COPS and Price could be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in penalties.

The organization drew headlines in 2015 for its failure to disclose tens of thousands of dollars paid to it by political candidates, including onetime 2nd Council District Candidate Ori Feibush. 

The developer-turned-candidate would later sue Nesmith and COPS over $106,000 he paid for “get-out-the-vote” services that never materialized. Feibush would eventually win a modest settlement over the affair.

“Ed Nesmith and his team have stolen millions of dollars from politicians, developers and our city over the last decade. This suit is just the tip of the iceberg and it's time for our City and the Democratic Party to show them the door,” Feibush wrote to City&State PA, in reference to news of the suit.

Nesmith has been linked to labor leader John Dougherty and has raked in money as a minority contractor.

Calls to Price and Nesmith were not immediately returned.