By A. Benjamin Mannes,
Last week, news reports emerged in both the local and national media showing a shell corporation controlled by Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has again been cited for failing to pay $86,000 in property taxes to the City of Philadelphia.
As initially reported by Ralph Cipriano at BigTrial.net, public records show that Krasner controls a 40 percent stake in Tiger Building LP, which owns the Princeton Club at 1221-23 Locust Street. Corporation records list “Little Street of Clubs LLC” as the corporate officer for Tiger Building, LP — and Little Street of Clubs’ own corporate filings list Krasner as its president.
Tiger Building, meanwhile, holds the massive tax bill. Public records currently show $86,043.57 in outstanding taxes for its property located at 1221 Locust St., including $79,776.79 in principal, $2,762.60 in interest, $1,215.19 in penalties and $2,288.99 in other fees. The records indicate there is a payment plan in effect dating back to other reports of tax delinquency from as early as 2015, prior to Krasner’s run for public office, which have not been paid by Tiger Building, LP.
READ MORE — Ben Mannes: As radical criminal justice policies result in record murders, where’s the bully pulpit?
In 2016, Tiger Building had a $130,000 judgment for unpaid Use & Occupancy taxes, which are imposed on Philadelphia businesses to help fund public schools. In April 2017, in the year Krasner was running to be the city’s top law enforcement official, the company negotiated its debt to $89,000 and established a payment plan, according to City & State PA. According to Cipriano, 54% of the amount owed by Krasner is supposed to go toward the “financially troubled” Philadelphia School District.
“Larry Krasner is also a hypocrite because he’s been featured in an online ad posted by the Real Justice PAC of San Francisco, as being a supporter of fully funding public schools,” Cipriano told Fox News.
For a District Attorney seemingly laser-focused on “police accountability”, Krasner himself has not suffered the wrath of foreclosure or auction by Revenue Department nor the Sheriff’s Office. A rookie cop would be subject to more of a background investigation upon applying for the academy.
The most recent reports of tax delinquency raise further questions as to the funds received by Tiger Building, LP from the PACs cited for campaign finance violations in Krasner’s election and reelection campaigns.
Krasner’s failure to pay is not for lack of rental income: Last year, during his reelection bid, Tiger Building, LP collected rent from both Real Justice PAC and Krasner campaign headquarters for office space in the same building. So if Tiger Building, LP has collected rent including north of $30,000 from the Krasner campaign and Real Justice PAC, why do they continually fail to pay their taxes?
According to Cipriano, “Last year, the Real Justice PAC bragged online about how it had raised some $1.3 million for Krasner’s re-election campaign — in flagrant violation of city elections laws that limited contributions from a single PAC to $12,600.”
[O]ne thing is clear — the average Philadelphian would never be allowed to ignore their taxes and violate other laws without the fear of enforcement.
Krasner’s campaign and Real Justice have twice been fined for violating Philadelphia campaign finance laws against coordination. However, Philadelphia’s home rule charter does not give the Ethics Board any authority to remove repeat violators from the ballot, nor invalidate elections or prosecute repeat campaign finance violators. Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council have rejected granting independent authority for Philadelphia’s Inspector General, so they are not allowed to investigate independently elected officials like Krasner. As Krasner’s victories in both his 2017 and 2021 races were funded by large, outside PAC donations to include nearly $2 million in funding from George Soros and other donors from places like New York and the Bay Area, these repeated campaign finance violations totaling only $10,000 to the campaign and $30,000 to the PAC may be just a “cost of doing business.”
Furthermore, if PACs are legally barred from coordinating with Campaigns, and both are paying funds directly to a candidate’s company for rent during an election year, does this violate ethics rules and possibly state and federal laws relating to campaign finance and/or money laundering? Even if, by identifying yet another legal loophole, these aren’t criminal violations — the optics are terrible, not only by Krasner’s company being paid by his PAC donors and his own campaign, but by no less than two law firms paying rent to a District Attorney they may have to deal with in an official capacity.
This calls into question the failure of Attorney General Josh Shapiro, currently running for Governor, has announced no investigation into Krasner, Tiger Building, LP, or Little Street of Clubs.
This perceived failure in oversight by state and federal prosecutors is a departure from the nonpartisan enforcement of campaign funds, even from other prominent Democrats like New York Attorney General Leticia James. Just this year, federal authorities secured a conviction against Republican Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) for $30,000 in illegal campaign contributions made to his 2016 reelection campaign, and Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who was previously sentenced, but pardoned, for illicit use of campaign finances.
If Shapiro and federal Attorney General Merrick Garland want to uphold the appearance of impartiality, how can they continually pretend there are no systemic ethics, oversight, or corruption issues within Krasner’s District Attorney’s office?
Whether these two officials choose to uphold their sworn duties, one thing is clear — the average Philadelphian would never be allowed to ignore their taxes and violate other laws without the fear of enforcement.
A. Benjamin Mannes, MA, CPP, CESP, is a Subject Matter Expert in Security & Criminal Justice Reform based on his own experiences on both sides of the criminal justice system. He has served as a federal and municipal law enforcement officer and was the former Director, Office of Investigations with the American Board of Internal Medicine. @PublicSafetySME