Sunday, March 09, 2008

This is yet another a "no-no" Mr. (or Ms.) Bozo Representative

Taxes Fund Incumbent Campaigns, again!
For more than a year, Attorney General Tom Corbett has been investigating allegations that millions of tax dollars were used illegally in 2006 to subsidize the campaigns of incumbent lawmakers and reward staffers who worked on the campaigns. So you might expect a more ethical approach to this year's campaigns. But many lawmakers didn't get the message.

Preparing to mail a questionnaire to candidates for the legislature, DR got a copy of the candidate database from the state's Bureau of Commissions, Elections & Legislation (BCEL). We then called all 460 candidates to get email addresses. In the process, we found that 21 lawmakers listed tax-paid office phone or fax numbers on the candidate affidavits that were filed with their nominating petitions. These are the numbers they want the BCEL and others to use if there are questions about the lawmakers' campaigns.

It may be a small thing. Or it may not. Here are the incumbents who are leaning on the taxpayers for their campaigns with their years of service in parentheses.

Thomas Blackwell, D-Philadelphia (4)
Frank Dermody, D- Allegheny (18)
Robert Donatucci, D-Philadelphia (28)
Rick Geist, R-Blair (30)
Robert Godshall, R-Montgomery (26)
Neal Goodman, D-Schuylkill (6)
Babette Josephs, D-Philadelphia (24)
Nick Kotik, D-Allegheny (4)
David Levdansky, D-Allegheny (24)
Jennifer Mann, D-Lehigh (10)
Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne (18)
Michael O'Brien, D-Philadelphia (2)
Joe Petrarca, D-Westmoreland (24)
Todd Rock, R-Franklin (2)
Chris Ross, R-Chester (12)
Stan Saylor, R-York (26)
John Siptroth, D-Monroe (4)
James Wansacz, D-Lackawanna (8)

Michael O'Pake, D-Berks (40)
President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, R-Jefferson (8)

Also, the Chair of the House Ethics Committee, Rep. Ron Buxton, D-Dauphin (16), listed his tax-paid fax number. And Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming (2), told DR to send the questionnaire to his official email.


* Why are these incumbents telling BCEL or anyone else to call them about their campaigns on a tax-paid phone answered by a tax-paid staffer in a tax-paid office? For how many elections have they been doing this? What will the House and Senate Ethics Committees do about it?

* What does this mean to their challengers' ability to compete fairly?

* Is this evidence of a deeper problem that the attorney general should investigate?

* What numbers do reporters use to call incumbents about their election campaigns? Are other numbers available?
A local PA Senator, Wayne Fontana, D, 42nd (Allegheny County) has been known to use the taxpayer funded fax number / machine in his PA Senate state office for paperwork with attorneys to harass opponents with bogus ballot challenges.

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