The Record Behind the Rhetoric


Philly Power Research, a group of volunteer researchers, has released a report called “The Record Behind the Rhetoric: A Guide to the Philly DA Democratic Primary,” breaking down the backgrounds of each of the seven Democratic candidates for district attorney, their backers and their donors.  

The 2017 DA primary has swung left in response to the organizing by the Movement for Black Lives and the election of President Donald Trump. All seven Democratic candidates for Philadelphia district attorney call themselves progressives, saying they want to end mass incarceration, hold cops accountable, and reform a racist criminal justice system.

“The Record Behind the Rhetoric,” delves into each candidate’s backgrounds to get at the truth. Who is donating to the candidates? Who is endorsing them? What have they said in the past? Most importantly, what have they done?

Here are some findings — click on each candidate to learn more!

Rich Negrin:

  • Worked for a corporation that profits from prisons, and has received donations from its executives
  • Involved in the mass arrests of activists at the Republican National Convention in 2000 and Occupy Philly in 2011


 Michael Untermeyer

  • Made his personal money from real estate development, and has received donations from real estate developers and Trump financiers
  • Originally ran for DA in 2009 and 2011 as a Republican



Joe Khan:

  • Says he’s progressive, but a deeper dive into his policy details reveals only moderate reforms
  • Was Assistant DA under Philly’s “Deadliest DA,” Lynne Abraham




 Tariq El-Shabazz:

  • Been accused of abandoning a client who claims innocence and languishes in prison
  • Has $190,712 in federal, state, and city tax lien judgments filed against him




Jack O’Neill:

  • Began his young career under DA Lynne “Queen of Death” Abraham, and currently works under Seth Williams
  • Has the endorsements of multiple labor unions, including IBEW Local 98, headed by Johnny Dougherty — whose union wrote checks for DA Seth Williams’ children’s summer camp programs



Teresa Carr Deni:

  • Dismissed sexual assault charges against a man who let friends rape a sex worker, downgrading the case to robbery
  • Received donations from the Fraternal Order of Police


 Larry Krasner:

  • Received many out-of-state donations, including from billionaire George Soros and from other progressive donors






Philly Power Research is a group of volunteer researchers with various backgrounds who came together after Trump’s inauguration to research the most critical issues facing Philly, and its biggest power players, to help fuel organizing in the #resistance.

For press inquiries, contact Ada Kase,

Photos courtesy Hanbit Kwon