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Philly Corruption All-Stars (1970s)

"I'm going to steal every vote I can"

Our corrupt culture is unique, and it’s easy to forget that when you’re in the throes of the latest scandal. That’s why, beginning today, we’re publishing our Philly Corruption All-Stars, baseball card-like profiles of the best—er, worst—practitioners of political black arts, Philly-style. Though we’re committed to being a constructive force for making the city better, we think these cards are necessary to hammer home an important point: We have a longstanding cultural issue before us.

We’re publishing our All-Stars by decade—today, we zero in on the 1970s—and at the end we’ll provide you with a link to a PDF version, so you can print the cards out and trade them with your friends.

Of course, we’re having fun with this, but it’s really no laughing matter. Our research for these tongue in cheek posts shows that things have gotten worse, not better. Just think of recent history, and the respective falls of Seth Williams, Kathleen Kane, Chakah Fattah, and Rob McCord—to just name a few. The culture is alive. The virus is spreading.

Here at The Citizen, we’re always looking for solutions. This time, it’s not so complicated: We need good men and women among us to demand better of those we hire to represent us.

99

Henry J. "Buddy" Cianfrani

Pennsylvania Senate

Henry J. "Buddy" Cianfrani

Pennsylvania Senate

(1967 – 1977)

Corruption charge: Cianfrani was charged with racketeering, bribery, and obstruction of justice, including paying "ghost employees" in his office.

Outcome: Cianfrani was convicted and sentenced to 5 years in federal prison. He only served 28 months.

Cianfrani was a shameless rogue. “I’m going to steal every vote I can,” he once said. “I’m going to buy every vote I can. That’s the kind of guy I am.” Even when he knew he was being investigated, he was unrepentant. In 1975, he said about special prosecutor Walter Phillips, “If he can’t get anything on me, what kind of an investigator is he?”

99

Herbert Fineman

Pennsylvania House Speaker

Herbert Fineman

Pennsylvania House Speaker

(1969 – 1977)

Corruption charge: Obstruction of justice relating to a grand jury investigation of alleged payoffs to politicians

Outcome: Convicted; although he appealed his case all the way to the US Supreme Court, he ultimately lost and served a prison sentence

In an effort to avoid conviction, Fineman—who claimed "self-serving zealots" fueled the investigation—founded FREE, an organization to help returning citizens find jobs. No word if he utilized their services when he completed his sentence.

99

Matthew Cianciulli

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Matthew Cianciulli

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(1977 – 1979)

Corruption charge: Charged with conspiring to encourage people to give false address in voter registration forms.

Outcome: He was convicted and sentenced to three years in federal prison.

"Matt was the personification of the grass roots Italian politician. He was always doing favors for people," said James J. Tayoun, a former state representative and City Council member—before his own imprisonment on corruption charges.

99

Joshua Eilberg

U.S. House of Representatives

Joshua Eilberg

U.S. House of Representatives

(1967 – 1979)

Corruption charge: Conflict of interest. While a Congressman, Eilberg was investigated for money he received in connection to a federal contract awarded to Hahneman Hospital. Eilberg, in turn, called Jimmy Carter's White House, which then had the investigating U.S. Attorney, David Marston, fired.

Outcome: Pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to five years of probation and a $10,000 fine.

Eilberg described his misdeeds thusly: "I want to say very emphatically that what we’re accused of here is really bookkeeping irregularities." Before his corruption was uncovered, Eilberg ran against, and defeated, a young Chris Matthews—now an MSNBC host—in the Democratic primary. Even decades later, Eilberg never forgave Matthews for his campaign.

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil posts. We want to be a communal space. But that doesn’t mean you have a First Amendment right to be an idiot. Send us an insulting, offensive and/or wildly off-topic comment and not only will we refrain from posting it -- we will laugh at you before we hit delete.

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