By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor
Allegheny County Executive candidate Mark Flaherty has scored a big blow against his primary opponent, County Council President Rich Fitzgerald.
Flaherty’s campaign today released email correspondence from Fitzgerald soliciting Marcellus shale industry leaders for campaign contributions. The email has been corroborated by its recipient, President and Executive Director Kathryn Klaber of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
“The next Chief Executive of Allegheny County will either be me or Mark Flaherty,” Fitzgerald wrote in the email. “If you want the leader of this region to be someone who is clueless about natural gas and your industry, continue to sit on your hands that is exactly what will happen.”
“I need money and I need it fast. Its great to hear from [Chesapeake Energy Exec] Dave Spiegelmeyer about how wonderful I am for the industry, but what I really need from Dave is money. Not ‘I wish I could be at your event, but I’m out of town. Just know we’re behind you’. Well if you are, put your money where your mouth is and help fund this campaign.”
The email went on to single out specific companies that had given Fitzgerald “next to nothing“ or “absolutely nothing,”
The leak comes after weeks of criticism by Fitzgerald of Flaherty’s perceived coziness with the natural gas industry. His campaign today launched a TV ad critical of Flaherty’s proposals to partner with natural gas drilling companies to maximize county revenues. Another television ad released last week called Flaherty’s proposal a “scheme” that “sounds like a Republican idea.”
The email was addressed to Kathryn Klaber, the President and Executive Director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. According to the Flaherty campaign, the email also went to an unspecified number of other industry members, one of whom forwarded it to their camp.
Klaber confirmed that she did receive the email from Fitzgerald, but said she does not know who leaked it to the Flaherty campaign.
“I did receive this unsolicited email from Rich Fitzgerald,” Klaber told PoliticsPA. “The MSC receives many solicitations for funds, but has never made a donation to political campaigns. We look forward to working with our next County Executive in Allegheny County, regardless of who that may be.”
Yet those attacks were launched months after Fitzgerald himself sent an unsolicited email to Katie Klaber, president and executive director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, lamenting the tepid support his campaign had received from Shale-related companies and warning that without financial support, Fitzgerald “will be gone in a few months, and the voices you hear won’t be your friends.”
The Fitzgerald campaign did not dispute the validity of the emails, instead calling the Flaherty release an attempt at distraction. Flaherty’s proposal is still flawed, maintains spokeswoman Olivia Benson.
“He can issue all the shrill press releases he likes,” Benson wrote, “but it doesn’t change the fact that he has his risky plan to borrow $2.5 billion to give to the drilling companies on his campaign website.”
In any case, it’s unclear how the news will play out. Even if Flaherty had infinite money, it would be difficult to produce and air a television ad with enough time to saturate to voters.
The entire email, as forwarded by the Flaherty campaign, is below.
John McDonald contributed to this report.
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2011 05:26:27
To: Katie Klaber<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Chief Executive Race
I forwarded a text to Matt responding to a text he sent to me telling me
he was coming to my event but only buying one ticket. And oh by the way
my campaign, won’t get the check till later, so we won’t have it for the
filing deadline of Jan. 31.
It is critical for my viability in eyes of the politucal world to have
money in the bank and have it early.
City Councilman Doug Shield’s wife, Bridgit, is making calls to the
energized moratoriom crowd for Mark Flaherty by telling them that Mark
Flaherty will support a moratorium.
The next Chief Executive of Allegheny County will either be me or Mark
Flaherty. If you want the leader of this region to be someone who is
clueless about natural gas and your industry, continue to sit on your
hands that is exactly what will happen.
Only EQT, Mike Hillenbrand and Keith Mangini have remotely gotten behind
My campaign has gotten next to nothing from Range, next to nothing from
CNX/Consol, next to nothing from Atlas, next to nothing from US Steel.
And absolutely nothing from Chespapeake, Cabot, Talisman or anyone else.
I love going to the expensive “Captians of Industry” parties in New York
City, but would rather have the “Captians” put their money behind a
candidate who will promote the growth of industry.
PIOGA has also done nothing.
I need money and I need it fast.
Its great to hear from Dave Spiegelmeyer about how wonderful I am for
the industry, but what I really need from Dave is money. Not “I wish I
could be at your event, but I’m out of town. Just know we’re behind
you.” Well if you are, put your money where your mouth is and help fund
I love going to your wine and cheese receptions to hear what a great
advocate I am for the natural gas industry, how as an CMU engineer I
understand the benefits of natural gas for the environment, global
warming, national security, jobs, regional growth, our trade deficit,
etc. You have the courage to take a stand and stand up for what’s
right. Well if you like that, stand up for me now. Because if you don’t
I will be gone in a few months, and the voices you hear won’t be your
Your kind words and “attaboys” won’t win the race. How about if you take
some of the money you spend on these receptions, or a party at the “W”
and invest it in who is going to lead Western Pennsylvania over the next
This is “The Race”. The Chief Executive of Allegheny County is the most
influential political office west of the Susquehana. He or she sets the
agenda for all of Western Pennsylvania. It is more important than a
state senate, state house, or even a congressional race.
I hope you guys realize this before it is too late.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry