State Rep. Margo Davidson subject of probe, federal grand jury looking at whether campaign funds were used for personal expenses

Photo via Margo Davidson’s campaign

Delaware County State Representative Margo Davidson is under investigation by a federal grand jury that has subpoenaed her political campaign’s financial records to determine if she misspent funds on personal expenses, according to sources familiar with the probe.

“There is a grand jury impaneled,” a law enforcement source told yc.news. “Rep. Davidson has been under a microscope since the indictment of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and State Representative Vanessa Lowery Brown.”

Subpoenas were served as recently as last week to members of Friends of Margo Davidson and People’s Victory, her political action committees, said the source, who described the investigation as a joint effort of the FBI, IRS, and other agencies.

Davidson, who declined to comment on her financial reports, is paid a salary of $84,012 a year. 

According to the well-placed source, a grand jury was impaneled at least one month ago, noting that the investigation is “well overdue” and that new information caught the eye of prosecutors after the indictment of former Philadelphia State Representative Vanessa Lowery Brown. 

“The government offered Margo Davidson the opportunity to commit crimes,” the source close to the probe told yc.news. “Day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year. It should have been stopped. It could have been stopped. It was ignored.” 

Davidson, a Democrat serving her fourth term in office with her fifth approaching, did not personally respond Monday to voice mail and email requests for comment. However, a Davidson staff member at her Harrisburg office declined to respond when asked several times if she received the subpoenas. 

“I don’t have time for this – stop calling our office,” the woman said. “I’m not answering your questions. I don’t give media soundbites.” 

In 2018, Davidson announced her re-election campaign and a separate bid for congress. 

A short breakdown of campaign finance reports obtained and reviewed by yc.news, indicate that Davidson used her campaign accounts to fund her personal lifestyle, going as far as fraudulently expensing over $1,000 for gas at a Wawa that doesn’t sell gasoline. 

The finance reports also detail trips that she took to North Carolina, Virginia, and several other states, including a trip for her and her husband, Robert Davidson, for their wedding anniversary. The Davidsons traveled to Virginia and splurged on dinners for their weekend getaway.

“It is absolutely unheard of for a campaign to spend nearly $70,000.00 in one month on a race that she is unopposed in and will win given the ratio of Republicans vs. Democrats,” a former investigator for the Federal Election Committee told yc.news. “This is a textbook case of public corruption.”

The most recent campaign report for Friends of Margo Davidson, filed in December to detail finances from November 27, 2018 to December 31, 2018, showed that she started the month with $34,156.93, raised $63,275.00, and spent $67,738.25, leaving $29,693.68 in the bank as of Dec. 31.

Davidson held her first congressional campaign party on March 17, 2018 and spent over $6,000 that weekend from her re-election campaign to foot the bill for her congressional run kick-off party, according to documents. 

Disturbingly, Davidson paid attorney Kevin O’Neill, a criminal defense attorney who represented her after she repeatedly crashed a taxpayer-funded vehicle without a valid driver’s license before fleeing the scene. O’Neill is also the attorney of record who represents two of her three incarcerated children. He received $1,000.00 from Davidson’s campaign shortly after her crash spree.

Kevin O’Neill did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Davidson paid Vincent Curtis of Newtown Square, Pa. $500 for “finance consulting” fees. Curtis, who was unwilling to comment on the consultation fee, owes the IRS nearly $20,000 in unpaid federal taxes, according to reports.

Campaign finance reports also indicate that the state representative’s husband, Robert Davidson, was paid over $3,750 to “canvas neighborhoods” during and after the election.

Jennifer Heath, a campaign staff member for Davidson was paid $9,000.00 for “election day operations” on May 15, 2018 and $2,250.00 on November 6, 2018. Heath, who has a lengthy criminal background including charges of harassment, disorderly conduct, simple assault, corruption of minors, indecent assault, and other crimes refused to comment on the payment.  

The campaign expense reports expose that Davidson spent campaign funds to cover her cost to and from Harrisburg for over two-years, spending over $5,000 in 2018 alone to foot the bill for her Harrisburg travel, accommodation and meals.

On March 16, May 25, and November 11, 2018, Davidson’s campaign finance report indicates that she spent $967.21 at three “fundraising planning events” at the Harrisburg Hilton Hotel. 

A representative for Hilton Hotels told yc.news that there “were no fundraising planning events that took place on those dates.” Nonetheless, Davidson was in Harrisburg on those three occasions to attend voting sessions, according to records from the House of Representatives. 

“When the House is in session, all members are given a per diem to use towards travel, including hotel.” A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of State told yc.news, noting that each representative receives a $157/day per diem for travel.

Though spending funds for her to travel to and from Harrisburg to vote may appear normal, Davidson could face serious legal penalties for funneling thousands of dollars from her campaign to foot the bill for her regular job.

The documents reveal that she was reimbursed for traveling to and from Harrisburg on each date that the house was in session, but the taxpayer-funds she received for her reimbursement were never returned to the campaign account.

Davidson paid 25-year-old Desmond Dozier over $2,000 for “support” during her re-election. Dozier refused to comment on the services he provided Davidson in exchange for the payments he received from her campaign. 

On March 14, 2018, Davidson spent $686.80 on dinner at Mangia Qui, a lavish Harrisburg European restaurant located across the street from the Capitol. Davidson wrote the meal off as a “campaign fundraising event.” However, records indicate that Davidson was in Harrisburg on that day to vote on legislation, not to host an event.

On March 1, 2018, Davidson paid Bernard Lopez $2,000.00 for his role as a “campaign operative.” Lopez, who was arrested and convicted of driving under the influence just months prior to the payment refused to comment on the payment and services provided. 

Davidson’s former chief-of-staff Carolyn Collins and her husband Keith Collins were paid $2,650.00 as “volunteer coordinators.” Collins came under fire last year after Davidson was accused of forging campaign signatures. The court ruled that out of 654 signatures on her nomination petitions that were notarized by Collins, 351 were fraudulent and stricken from her petition. Carolyn and Keith Collins did not respond to requests for comment. 

Davidson also expensed gasoline at the Wawa located on 202 State Road on dozens of occasions, however, that specific Wawa does not sell gasoline. 

Snippet of State Rep. Margo Davidson’s (D-Pa.) expense report, outlining gas purchases at a Wawa that doesn’t sell gas. (yc.news/exclusive)

When asked about the subpoenas, investigation, and Rep. Davidson’s finance reports, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, “no comment.”