Aide: Rep. Bob Brady's opponent was paid to drop from race

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Aide: Rep. Bob Brady's opponent paid to drop from race. Vernon Odom reports during Action News at 4:30pm on July 26, 2017. (WPVI)

A former aide to a political challenger of a powerful U.S. representative admitted that she helped funnel the congressman's cash to her former boss in exchange for his withdrawal from a 2012 election, federal prosecutors.

Carolyn Cavaness, a pastor who was an aide to Philadelphia Judge Jimmie Moore during his 2012 candidacy in the Democratic primary for the seat held by Rep. Robert Brady, told officials she set up at Moore's direction a shell company that would be used to accept $90,000 from Brady. In turn, she said, Moore would drop out of the race and use the cash to pay off his campaign debt.

The money was routed through two political consultants who falsified invoices intended to justify the payments, officials said. Cavaness pleaded guilty to filing false statements to hide the transactions.

Moore dropped out of the race, and Brady won the Democratic primary and the general election and is still in office.

Prosecutors did not name Moore or Brady in court documents or a related news release, but the U.S. attorney's office in Philadelphia said the candidates involved in the case were running for the congressional seat held by Brady.

"She has pled guilty to falsifying reports that go to election officials, and those reports related to the fact that one individual who was running for Congress paid off the campaign expenses of his opponent in order to get his opponent to exit the race," said Acting U.S. Attorney Louis Lappen.

Neither candidate has been charged with anything or accused of wrongdoing.

Brady's lawyer issued a statement on Wednesday that said he has done nothing wrong and is cooperating.

"This campaign committee purchased an extensive poll from former Candidate Moore and hired his campaign manager to assist in the general election," the statement said.

Legal expert Lloyd George Parry said if there was any wrongdoing by the congressman, who is also the leader of Philadelphia's Democratic Party, the government would likely need Caveness or other aides to flip and become government witnesses against him.

"It would appear to me that before the government could make a case against the congressman, it would be necessary for the people who were working for the congressman, either as campaign consultants or other people in the congressman's campaign, to roll over and cooperate with the government," he said.

Brady was in Washington on Wednesday and all questions were referred to his lawyer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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