Three staffers have departed from City Councilman Bobby Henon’s nine-person office amid an ongoing FBI investigation into the councilman’s union work.
Henon and John Dougherty, who leads the politically influential IBEW Local 98 electricians union (where Henon is also employed), have been in the federal agency’s crosshairs for more than two years. City-funded legal counsel was retained for all of Henon’s staff following a raid on his office last year.
The departures occurred between March and April, according to City Council payroll; two of the three were recruited away by Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration.
Christopher Creelman, who served as former Councilwoman Joan Krajewski’s chief of staff before joining Henon’s office in 1999, resigned in April. Kenney spokesperson Lauren Hitt said that the administration sought out Creelman to oversee capital projects in the Parks and Recreation department.
“He was recruited because of his 18 years of experience working on (improvements to existing city-owned facilities) projects for two different City Councilmembers,” Hitt said via email.
Creelman earned $103,043-a-year as Henon’s chief legislative aide. His new annual salary is $99,000.
Kenney’s administration also sought out Henon’s former communications director, Jolene Byzon, to handle communications the mayor’s $500 million Rebuild initiative.
“We reached out to her to see if she would be interested in working on communications and community outreach for Rebuild,” Hitt wrote. “She then went through two interviews before she was offered the job.”
The third staffer, Christopher Dick, who had been Henon’s director of research since 2012, resigned in April in order to continue his education.
Courtney Voss, Henon’s longtime chief of staff, said the timing of the departures is coincidental.
“It is not uncommon for City Council staff to depart City Council employment and the Councilman has always encouraged staff to take opportunities to grow professionally and personally,” Voss wrote in an email.
Byzon and Creelman did not return requests for comment.
Voss said that the three positions have recently been filled and that she anticipates adding one or two more positions this summer.
Indeed, Council offices have seen plenty of staff shakeups over the years, but the recent departures mean Henon has lost and replaced a third of his staff since the extraordinary August raid. While the Board of Ethics seized documents from former Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller’s office in 2011, few political veterans in Philadelphia could recall the last time a council member’s office was raided by the FBI.
The city’s Law Department retained legal counsel on behalf of Henon’s entire staff once news of the investigation became public.
Andrew Richman, chief of staff for City Solicitor Sozi Tulante, confirmed that that legal counsel remains on retainer for Henon’s remaining staffers, as well as ex-staffers who were employed in the office at the time of the raid.
In addition to his six-figure salary as a Councilmember, Henon holds an untitled position on Local 98’s payroll for which he earned $71,711 in 2015. It remains unclear what Henon’s exact duties for the building trades union are, although he has said he reports directly to Dougherty.
The FBI had reportedly been wiretapping Henon’s and Dougherty’s personal phones as part of its investigation for more than a year before the raids last August. Last week, “intercept letters” were sent out to scores of people informing them that their calls with either the Councilman or the union leader had been picked up.
Two other individuals – Marita Crawford, the political director for Dougherty’s union, and Joseph Ralston, a former investigator with state Attorney General’s Office – were also wiretapped, according to the intercept letter.
Dougherty has maintained the the investigation is a smear campaign on his union. Henon has spoken little of the investigation.