August 17th Ups & Downs
A bombshell report shocks the world’s conscience, Social Security and Medicare take on TV, a state representative cancels a town hall, and much more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
Every week PoliticsPA sends an exclusive extra Up or Down to Playbook subscribers. See who gets the extra up or down next week: sign up here.
SHAPIRO. On Tuesday, Attorney General Josh Shapiro released the findings of a grand jury investigation on sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The investigation identified over 300 Catholic priests across Pennsylvania who abused more than 1,000 children over seven decades, while church leaders covered it up. This news is without a doubt the biggest story in Pennsylvania this week and captured headlines from across the world. Since this announcement, discussions have begun between lawmakers in Pennsylvania about how to address this issue and hold the guilty individuals accountable. The Vatican responded to the report stating it felt, “shame and sorrow” and told victims: “The pope is on your side.” It was the biggest moment of Shapiro’s career and he rose to the occasion with a press conference that channeled the righteous anger of the victims.
Medicare and Social Security. Taking center stage. This week in the Pennsylvania political scene, three different incumbents launched ads focusing on the senior programs. “In Congress, Lou Barletta supported a plan that would have ended Medicare as we know it,” Casey says in the 30 second ad. The Barletta campaign dubbed Casey as “vulnerable” for releasing an attack ad in August and stated that the message was the PolitiFact’s “lie of the year” from 2011. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Allegheny) released his first television ad, showing his mother Alice typing up a Facebook post thanking the incumbent GOP representative for following through on a promise of protecting Medicare and Social Security, while he’s sitting next to her. Rep. Mike Kelly’s (R-Butler) first ad of the general election cycle shows the congressman sitting at a table talking to senior citizens thanking them for their hard work in the community and promising to protect Medicare and Social Security.
Bob Casey. Good enough? Morning Consult’s July polling shows Sen. Casey has an approval rating of 43% in Pennsylvania, while just 32% did not approve of his job performance. The approval rating is tied for Casey’s best since January. On the other hand, only 32% of respondents said Casey “deserves reelection,” while 44% believe it’s time for a new person. The 32% for “deserves reelection” is a one point improvement for Casey from the previous month. Most of the recent head-to-head polling still shows Casey with a comfortable lead over Barletta.
Marty Nothstein. The Morning Call reported Friday that the GOP candidate for the 7th Congressional District was placed on unpaid leave from his post as executive director of the Lehigh Valley Velodrome in February after the board had learned he was the subject of a sexual misconduct investigation. Nothstein stated these claims were “100 percent false” and a “political hit job,” which began less than two weeks after his announcement for his Congressional bid during last fall. “These false accusations hurt me, hurt my family and hurt my livelihood … ,” he said. “It’s coming from an anonymous tipster, someone standing in the shadows.” Nothstein is set to have a press conference this afternoon discussing the report. It will take a lot to counteract the devastating impact of the story.
Press Solidarity. Editorial boards from across the nation came together this by writing stories standing up for the freedom of the press as tensions grow between the media and President Trump’s administration – including dozens in Pennsylvania. The effort was organized by Marjorie Pritchard of The Boston Globe. The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial “Stop the War on a Free Press” delved into the current political climate and hostility towards news organizations and acknowledged that they should be held accountable, but believe this administration has taken it too far. “Criticism of the press is part of healthy debate in a democracy. Media organizations, including ours, sometimes earn the criticism. But demonization of the press is now a calculated White House strategy, intended to impede a process whose purpose is to inform the citizenry.”
Frank Rizzo Statue. It’s staying up and put…. for “two to three more years.” Last week, Mayor Jim Kenney acknowledged to the Inquirer that the controversial statue of the former Police Chief and Philadelphia Mayor would remain at its current location in Thomas Paine Plaza. In the wake of the protests in Charlottesville, VA last summer, Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym called for the removal of the statue via tweet by stating, “All around the country, we’re fighting to remove the monuments to slavery & racism. Philly, we have work to do. Take the Rizzo statue down.” Kenney later agreed that the statue should be moved to a different location. This recent development was noteworthy because this delay means the statue will not be removed until after Kenney’s reelection bid. In the Inquirer story, Kenney told them, “It doesn’t impact my election one way or the other,” he said. “Of all the issues on my scale of important things to do, this is not even in the top 100.” The future location of the statue is TBD, but “The city’s Home Rule Charter also gives the Philadelphia Art Commission the final say on any change to public art like the Rizzo statue,” the article states.
Rep. Sue Helm. A “gotcha” event? Rep. Sue Helm (R-Dauphin) was set to host a town hall event on August 20. Was. This week, Helm decided to cancel the event over fears of it turning into a “political “gotcha” event”. She stated her concerns of the Tri-County Federation of Democratic Women showing up to ask questions “for partisan political purposes”. PennLive reports that Helm has not held a town hall in more than a year.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
To whomever stole my Amazon delivery today, enjoy your 2018 AP Style Guide. Make sure to read the section on ethics.
— Payton Potter (@Payton_Tech) August 14, 2018