There is a bizarre legal tiff between political operatives in Philadelphia over who came up with an attack strategy to save the career of Democratic Mayor John Street in 2003. Street was implicated in a “pay-to-play” scandal. While he was not charged, a slew of his associates and fundraisers were. Now, Philadelphia campaign consultant Frank Keel has sued Obama presidential campaign adviser David Axelrod over Axelrod’s claim that he came up with the attack strategy that saved Street. Keel insists that Axelrod is taking credit for the idea of attacking the George W. Bush Administration to spin the scandal. While that strikes me as a pretty obvious strategy, it appears a defining moment that both men want to claim. Keel also sued Penguin Random House.
In his new book, “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics,” Axelrod takes credit for the plan. Keel is irate and his lawsuit states that “[Axelrod’s] brazen and successful handling of the crisis launched Keel to the forefront of his profession.” For his part, Axelrod admits that other advisers “arrived at the same conclusion or proceeded on parallel tracks.”
Frankly, I am not sure why this is such a remarkable strategy to claim. Other than innocence or a confession, the only other strategy is to call the investigation politically motivated. Politicians have been doing that for centuries. I think that greater shock is what constitutes breakthrough or signature work among political advisers.
Count One is a Lanham Act claims based on false representations made in Interstate commerce.
Count Two is a common law unfair competition charge.
Both seem remarkable weak in my view.
Here is the lawsuit.