Last September, State Rep. Kevin Boyle, a Philadelphia Democrat whose brother is a sitting Congressman, dramatically fell out of the good graces of his party seemingly overnight. Several media reports all echoed the same refrain — that Boyle had been “quietly stripped of committee leadership, Capitol access,” as one headline put it.
Less than a year later, the opposite is now true.
Just as quietly, criminal charges against Boyle of harassment and violating a restraining order in Philadelphia have been dropped, and his minority-party chairmanship of the House Finance Committee has been restored. Neither move has received follow-up reports from the outlets that covered the original dust-up.
If Boyle or his party’s caucus in Harrisburg believe he’s completely vindicated of the arrest and charges from September 2021, as well as any other behavior that might have preceded those events, they aren’t saying.
First came the revelations on Sept. 21 that Democratic House leaders had stripped him of his committee assignment.
At the time, “Boyle would say only that he believes Democratic House leaders were given ‘incorrect information about me’ over the summer. He would not elaborate,” according to Spotlight PA.
Court documents show that just three days later, Sept. 24, the situation escalated again. Boyle was arrested and charged with harassment and violating a restraining order, but the document gives precious few other meaningful details.
The court docket then indicates those charges were withdrawn on Jan. 20.
Boyle’s minority chairmanship of the House Finance Committee was restored several days later, on Jan. 24, 2022.
Members of House Democratic leadership did not respond to requests for comment about the developments, including questions asking whether their faith in the six-term House member was completely restored. When party leadership strips a member of committee privileges, it usually indicates complete abandonment by the party, at least in Pennsylvania politics.
In response to questions from Broad + Liberty, Boyle said that his privileges had all been restored without preconditions. “Democratic leadership team are all supporting me,” he said in a text message. “I have a great relationship with our House Democratic leadership team.”
For the criminal charges, Boyle was represented by Philadelphia lawyer R. Emmett Madden, who has a long history of representing not only Kevin, but also Kevin’s brother, U.S. Representative Brendan Boyle.
As Broad + Liberty has reported over several months, Rep. Brendan Boyle has been paying thousands of dollars from his federal campaign account to Madden for legal work on “active litigation” that Brendan Boyle and his team refuse to identify.
Madden’s firm and website advertise him as a personal injury and criminal defense specialist.
Kevin Boyle has also been paying Madden — also from his campaign account — for legal defense work, but for civil accusations that developed significantly in 2018. In that year, then-State Sen. John Sabatina accused Boyle of slandering him to various political allies of Sabatina.
Boyle and Sabatina developed an intense rivalry after Boyle challenged Sabatina for his state senate seat in the 2016 primary, a year after Sabatina won the open state senate seat in a special election.
Boyle currently faces primary opposition from Bob Stewart, who served as Sabatina’s communications director from 2018 to 2022.
Speaking with Broad + Liberty about Boyle’s arrest last year, Stewart said, “Regarding the incidents, I think the allegations were serious and what should be considered is whether he’s betrayed the trust of his constituents. If it’s all related to a mental illness situation then perhaps he should step aside and work on his health.”
Boyle’s challenger continued: “Quite honestly, I was surprised he sought re-election. I certainly wish him all the best in his health and recovery. But mental health is a serious issue and representing 65,000 people is a demanding job. I question whether his colleagues on either side of the aisle will trust him enough to effectively work with him. How does that help Bustleton, Fox Chase, Rhawnhurst and other communities in Northeast Philly? It doesn’t.”
Stewart also said he enjoyed a friendly relationship with Boyle for a number of years, and that he had decided to run against him in this year’s primary before last year’s incidents.
Boyle has had cooperation from at least one of his colleagues in recent weeks. He has been promoting House Bill 2380, legislation that was co-sponsored in the House by Rep. Rob Matzie, a Democrat from Beaver and Allegheny counties. The bill would “appropriate $2 million in state funds to aid Ukrainian refugee resettlement efforts in Pennsylvania,” according to a press release from Gov. Tom Wolf’s office.
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at email@example.com, or use his encrypted email at firstname.lastname@example.org. @shepherdreports