Pictured is Philadelphia City Council member Bobby Heno

Philadelphia City Council member Bobby Henon. — Photo/Matt Rourke

City Council member Bobby Henon should resign from Council following his conviction on federal corruption charges.

Henon was convicted Monday of bribery and honest services fraud along with John Dougherty, business manager of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The jury agreed with the prosecution’s contention that Dougherty bribed Henon in 2015 and 2016 with a $70,000 salary and benefits for a no-show union job. The bribe also included nearly $20,000 worth of tickets to Philadelphia Eagles games and other sporting events.

In return, Henon served as a council member on retainer to Dougherty, helping him attack his rivals in other unions and pressure large employers to hire union electricians, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors over four weeks of testimony showed that Dougherty used Henon to press Comcast Corp. to steer $2 million worth of electrical work to a friend during cable contract talks with the city, to shut down the non-union installation of MRI machines at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and to investigate a towing company that seized Dougherty’s car.

“All Henon had to do to keep those benefits flowing to him (was) to use his official duties to please John Dougherty,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Bea Witzleben said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The two men each face up to 20 years in jail for the most serious charges.

Henon is not legally required to resign from Council until his sentencing, which is scheduled for February. He has resisted calls to leave office before then.

Henon stepped down from his committee leadership roles following his conviction. He was chair of the Public Property and Public Works Committee, as well as the Licenses and Inspections Committee. He was also vice chair of the Finance Committee and Public Health and Human Services Committee.

But Henon should resign immediately to help restore public trust. It was telling that Council conducted business as usual in their meeting on Thursday. Not one councilmember mentioned Henon’s name or offered even a mild rebuke of him or his abuse of power.

With few exceptions, reaction from elected state and city officials has been notably muted following the verdict.

State Rep. Jared Solomon, who called for Henon to resign when the charges were announced in 2019, issued a statement after the verdict Monday. “The citizens of Philadelphia received the justice they deserve,” Solomon said. “We cannot wait to rid our government and politics of corruption.”

Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez in a statement called the corruption trial “a sad time for Philadelphia City Council.” The testimony and profanity-laced wiretap recordings heard during the trial “cast serious doubt on the integrity of our legislative body,” she said.

Unfortunately, most local officials have not spoken out against Henon. Their silence speaks volumes and creates a public perception that they have a comfortable acceptance of corruption.

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