When members of City Council pushed for an audit in 2016 to determine whether the Philadelphia Parking Authority was withholding money from city schools, PPA Board Chairman Joseph Ashdale was quick to voice his public opposition.
But private conversations, caught on an FBI wiretap, suggest just how far he was willing to go to reward Council members who backed him — and punish those who didn’t.
“I want [to] see who the f—’s going to” vote for it, he allegedly told Councilman Bobby Henon. “Because nobody [who does] is going to get a f—ing job out of here or a f—g penny out of” the agency, the city’s lone Republican-held patronage mill.
That threat — along with an alleged bribe that prosecutors say Ashdale paid Henon for his support — now forms the basis of one of the 19 corruption-related counts the councilman faces in the indictment filed last month against him, labor leader John J. “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, and six others.
It also makes Ashdale the latest public official to be caught up in the investigation — a list that includes Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty and Henon’s colleague on Council Kenyatta Johnson, both of whom the Inquirer identified last week as unnamed officials described in the indictment.
Like them, prosecutors have not named Ashdale in court filings. But four sources familiar with the investigation have identified him as the person referenced in the indictment as “PPA Official No. 2.” He allegedly bought Henon’s opposition to the 2016 Parking Authority audit with a gift of more than $3,000 in free windows installed at the home of the councilman’s chief-of-staff.
Prosecutors describe that transaction as a bribe and have charged Henon with accepting the payoff. They declined to discuss why Ashdale is not being prosecuted.