Closing arguments at Smukler campaign finance trial

Steve Tawa
November 29, 2018 - 4:58 pm
Ken Smukler

Steve Tawa/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The jury surprised the courtroom in the campaign finance law violation trial of political strategist Ken Smukler by deciding to begin deliberations Thursday evening at 5 p.m. This was after seven hours of closing arguments and the judge's charge on points of law.

Jurors broke after about 90 minutes, and will return to deliberating Friday morning.
 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Gibson told jurors Ken Smukler "made a mockery of campaign finance election law" in handling Congressman Bob Brady's 2012 re-election campaign and Marjorie Margolies' attempt to reclaim her congressional seat in 2014.

Through what he calls "an elaborate deception," he says Smukler "willfully undermined the integrity of the election process and the law." Pointing to Smukler's 5 hours on the witness stand, Gibson remarked, "when confronted with an inconvenient fact, jurors saw his performance spinning, and spinning, and spinning."

Defense Attorney Brian McMonagle told jurors, "there was no grand conspiracy, if there was, Bob Brady would be sitting here." Gibson jumped out of his chair objecting. Federal Court Judge Jan DuBois sustained the objection and told jurors to disregard the comment. Then he turned to them, adding that they should not consider why others weren’t charged, or called as witnesses.

RELATED: Closing arguments to wrap up Smukler campaign finance trial 

McMonagle counseled jurors on one key point of law - reasonable doubt. He told them, "you can decide reasonable doubt...if you hesitate, you must acquit."

Moments later, McMonagle repeated the Brady reference. Gibson objected again, yelling at this point, saying the defense could have called the congressman. McMonagle shot back, "prosecutors have the burden of proof." 

Brady, the 11 term congressman who is not seeking reelection, was not charged. 

This story has been updated at 7.57 p.m. Nov. 29, 2018.