Berks elections board releases report on investigation of Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer's election campaign

Findings forwarded to Berks district attorney, Philadelphia Ethics Board

Posted: 5:10 PM EST Dec 24, 2013   Updated: 11:49 PM EST Nov 21, 2013

The Berks County Board of Elections has released the findings of its 15-month investigation of Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer's campaign finances.

The investigation began in August 2012 after the board learned that Spencer's campaign for mayor, operating under the name of Friends of Vaughn Spencer (FVS), accepted a $30,000 contribution from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW Local 98) in Philadelphia on Nov. 4, 2011, four days before the general election.

The same day, officials said, the campaign contributed $10,000 each to the Philadelphia City Council campaigns of Bill Rubin and William Green.

The elections board concluded that the $30,000 contribution to Spencer's campaign "was made to enable Local 98 to funnel additional contributions from it to Rubin and Green in violation of the Philadelphia Ethics Act by utilizing FVS as the conduit to conceal its illegal activity, and that FVS... aided and abetted Local 98 in exchange for a $10,000 contribution for its role in this matter."

The election board's investigation was led by special counsel hired by the board.

"We took testimony from four witnesses. We subpoenaed documents and took financial records from the campaign. We reviewed all the materials we obtained in considerable detail and over a considerable period of time," said Berks County Commissioner Mark Scott, who also serves as chairman of the elections board.

The elections board has forwarded its 61-page report to Berks County District Attorney John Adams and the Philadelphia Board of Ethics. Scott, a member of the elections board, said it would not have done so if the board felt further action in the matter was not warranted.

Adams, the DA, said he has not yet received the report.

Michael Cooke, director of enforcement for the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, told 69 News he could not comment on the case, citing confidentiality issues.

Berks County Board of Elections (2013)

The Berks County Board of Elections has also directed Spencer's campaign to immediately file amended campaign finance reports to "accurately report the receipt of contributions and expenditures by FVS and to substantiate that all such contributions and expenditures are legal under the law."

The board also levied $3,750 worth of late fees against the campaign "as a result of the substantial and significant errors and omissions."

"My clients have fully cooperated in this investigation from its inception," said JoAnn Ruchlewicz, attorney Friends of Vaughn Spencer. "There has been no evidence presented to substantiate these allegations. My clients have advised the Board of Elections and its counsel that the campaign finance reports have been amended and have provided documentation regarding campaign expenditures."