February 15th Ups & Downs
A former Executive Director gets tapped by President Trump for an important position in the Department of Labor, while a former Dem staffer gets a position in a 2020 presidential campaign. Turmoil ensues at two of the state’s largest newspapers and the Democrats select their candidate for PA12. All of that and 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.
Joe Scarnati. Another chapter in the MeToo movement in Harrisburg was added this week when the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Caucus, and the Post-Gazette reported that Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati’s office authorized “quietly” paying the legal bills of one of the previous chamber’s security chiefs who resigned in late 2017 amid sexual harassment allegations. Justin Ferrante, the former security director, is being sued by two female subordinates for allegedly sexually harassing them, including texting photos of “genitals and feces.” The reporters questioned why the Senate is paying the legal fees, but the Senate’s top lawyer, Drew Crompton said the decision to cover Ferrante’s legal bills was a “difficult call,” but it was necessary to follow the chamber’s policy on paying for legal services.
Bob Bozzuto. The former Executive Director of the PA GOP was nominated by President Donald Trump to be the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs within the U.S. Department of Labor. Bozzuto served as the PA GOP Executive Director from 2013-2017 and was a member of former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum’s legislative staff and his 2006 campaign team.
Inquirer and Post-Gazette Publishers. Not a good week for the two of the biggest newspapers in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette labor union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relation Board over claims that publisher John Block “went berserk” over a sign the guild put up in the office reading “Shame on the Blocks” according to City Paper. The guild’s lawyer expects a decision from the NLRB on the matter within a couple of weeks. Across the state, the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia unanimously delivered a vote of no confidence in Philadelphia Media Network publisher, who oversees the Inquirer, Terry Egger. Philadelphia Magazine reports that this is the first time in its 85 year history that the NewsGuild has delivered such a vote. The fight between the publisher and staff is over their pension plan and salaries.
Marc Friedenberg. The faculty member at Penn State gets another shot. The Pennsylvania Democratic Party officially announced that Marc Friedenberg will be its candidate for the upcoming special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District. Friedenberg faced incumbent Rep. Tom Marino (R-Lycoming) in November, but due to his recent retirement, gives him another chance to flip the seat for the Democrats. The Pennsylvania GOP is hoping to avoid another special election upset victory like the one in March 2018 when Conor Lamb bested Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in the Trump friendly 18th District. Good news for the GOP is that this district is even more of a GOP stronghold than Lamb’s old district. President Trump carried this district by over 35 points in 2016 and Marino defeated Friedenberg by 32 points. The Democrat does have the benefit of not facing a well known incumbent this time around, but the May 21 showdown will be an uphill battle for him. The GOP will select their candidate on March 2.
Giancarlo Stefanoni. This former staffer for Governor Tom Wolf’s campaign takes on a role in the national stage. First reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tamari, the former finance director for Wolf for PA was hired by Sen. Kamala Harris’ campaign for President. The Harris campaign confirmed this news with PoliticsPA stating he will be doing Mid-Atlantic Finance. Also worth noting that Harris won the PA Progressive Summit straw poll in Pittsburgh a couple of weekends ago.
Brian Wisniewski. The Plum Borough School Board member resigned from his position after posting an anti-Muslim statement on his Facebook. Wisniewski’s post stated, “Does it worry anybody that we have three devout Muslims in Congress that have unlimited access to our top secret government documents?” He has since removed the post, which was a “re-post,” and resigned from the board according to KDKA.
Solar Jobs. Pennsylvania isn’t following this national trend. The number of people employed in the state’s solar industry rose by 10%, adding 371 jobs between 2017 and 2018, while the national average declined 3.2% nationally, according to City Paper.
Stacy Parks Miller. The former Centre County District Attorney had her law license suspended by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for one year and one day effective March 10, the Centre Daily Times reports. She was accused of being involved in “ex parte communications” with Centre County judges, along with creating and using a fake Facebook page to “snoop” on “suspected bath salt dealers.”
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Although the Philadelphia 76ers fell victim to the Boston Celtics yet again…. A Philly Congressman points out the near identical looks between Celtics coach, Brad Stevens and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
My friend @PeteButtigieg is a smart and talented leader. But on principle, as a lifelong 76ers fan, I would have a hard time supporting a Boston Celtics coach.
— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) February 8, 2019