PA-10: Troiano Reaches Signature Requirement

nick-troianoNick Troiano, 25-year-old independent candidate for PA’s 10th congressional district, announced via press release today that he has collected more than the 3,600 signatures needed to be placed on the ballot in November.

He will be releasing the exact number in an announcement from the Capitol steps on July 30th at 10 a.m.

This news comes four days and three stops before the conclusion of his “Back to the Future” tour, in which he is traveling through the 10th district’s 15 counties in a 1981 DeLorean. With about a fifth of his tour remaining and sufficient signatures collected, he will likely well surpass the required number.

Once Troiano’s signatures, due August 1, are turned into and ratified by the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, he will become the 10th district’s first independent candidate in history. In addition, he will be the only independent and the youngest congressional candidate in PA in 2014.

In addition to announcing the number of signatures collected next Wednesday, he plans to discuss political reform that would break down barriers for independent candidates in running against mainstream candidates.

Jerry Kairnes and Jack Donson, Troiano’s Volunteer Petition Circulators, and Daniel Gallagher of the PA Ballot Access Coalition, which works to lower signature requirements in PA for independent candidates, will also be speaking.

Troiano was required to collect more than three and a half times as many signatures as Republican incumbent Tom Marino and Democratic challenger Scott Brion.

PA’s 10th congressional district consists of Bradford, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Pike, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union and Wayne counties and parts of Lackawanna, Monroe, Northumberland, Perry and Tioga counties.

7/23 Morning Buzz

PA-state-flag6Moody’s downgrades the state’s credit rating, another Democratic PAC launches an anti-Corbett commercial and we ask our readers who their favorite former Governor is. Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz!

Reader Poll: Who is your Favorite Former PA Governor?: We ask our readers who their favorite Gov of the modern era is.

Moody’s Downgrades Pennsylvania’s Credit Rating: In the aftermath of the budget battle in Harrisburg, Moody’s downgraded Pennsylvania’s credit rating, and politicians are pointing fingers.

PA-Gov: Democratic PAC’s New Ad Blasts Corbett (VIDEO): A new Democratic political action committee targets Governor Corbett over education funding.

PA-Sen: Toomey Calls for U.S. Action Against Putin: In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Sen. Pat Toomey addressed the unlikelihood of Russian President Putin stepping down peacefully on his own, and cited Putin’s improbable retirement as a reason for the U.S. to get more involved.

Reader Poll: Financial Reports Affect Voter’s Perceptions of a Race: We take a look at the results of our latest reader poll.

PA Indpendent: Budget blues: Moody’s downgrades Pennsylvania’s bond rating
Capitolwire: Online payday lenders agree to pull out of PA market
Capitolwire: PA’s credit rating downgraded
Capitolwire: ‘Shortcomings’ in water quality programs at DEP, audit says
PLS Reporter: A Look Back with Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster)
State House Sound Bites: PA revenge porn ban leaves advocates skeptical

Commonwealth Confidential: The PA Senate lawyers up
PhillyClout: Pa. schools’ reserve funds now top $4 billion
The Inquirer: Phila. asks for proposals for overhauling education
The Inquirer: City settles gun permit suit for $1.4 million

Pottstown Mercury: Congressmen visit Berks home sheltering young illegals
Daily Local News: West Chester to vote on school board regionalization
Daily Local News: Porn or not? It doesn’t ‘jump out at you’
Daily Local News: Kennett Square passes chicken ordinance

KDKA: Proposed New Walmart Has Some McCandless Residents Concerned
Tribune Review: Federal appeals courts disagree on Obamacare subsidies
Tribune Review: Castle Shannon mayor honored by statewide association
Tribune Review: McCandless residents voice opposition to Wal-Mart plan
Tribune Review: Wolf says he’ll work with state legislature to deal with pension woes
Post-Gazette: DEP: Oil and gas operations damaged water supplies 209 times since end of ’07
Pittsburgh Business Times: Auditor general finds fault with DEP’s gas well oversight
Pittsburgh Business Times: Dueling decisions: Different appeals court upholds Obamacare subsidies
Pittsburgh Business Times: Commonwealth Foundation: Downgrade a wake-up call to state
Pittsburgh Business Times: Casey wants National League of Cities event in Pittsburgh

Johnstown Tribune-Democrat: Reade Twp. water projects receive funding
Altoona Mirror: Home rule charter adopted
Beaver County Times: Lawmakers to examine problem of missing fingerprints
Observer-Reporter: Marcellus Shale driller plans to close Amwell impoundment
Observer-Reporter: DOE’s energy series focuses on gas transmission
Observer-Reporter: Changes at Washington County elections office; seeking students for election boards
Observer-Reporter: Corbett touts long-lasting effects of shale drilling

News Item: Employment bounces back locally; health care up while manufacturing down
Times-Tribune: House majority leader seeks to rein in PA debt as Moody’s downgrades again
Times-Tribune: Scranton teachers could strike if no contract reached
Times-Tribune: AG releases audit of DEP’s enforcement of oil gas industry regs
Standard Speaker: Agency rejects chief for immigration enforcement
Pocono Record: Sinking money into Monroe’s municipal pools
Pocono Record: Pocono Township moves toward refinancing loan at lower interest rate
The Times Leader: Auditor General: DEP struggles to keep up with booming shale industry
The Times Leader: Report: Failure to raise levee in Wilkes-Barre, Plymouth could mean greater flood risk
The Times Leader: Northwest Area OKs $2.69m tax-anticipation loan
Citizens Voice: Report: VA doctor removed after complaint

Lehigh Valley
Morning Call: Congressmen Paul Ryan, Charlie Dent raise money in Allentown for House Republicans
Morning Call: Dent, others tour Berks County shelter for children from Central America
Reading Eagle: Politicians and public officials air concerns about drug abuse
Express Times: Knowlton Township officials not satisfied with generating station’s switch to diesel to make electricity, report says

South Central
Carlisle Sentinel: State Police conduct Megan’s Law compliance checks in Perry County
Harrisburg Patriot News: Rick Santorum: “I’m definitely considering” another run for GOP nomination
Harrisburg Patriot News: Senate GOP leadership to Corbett: Re-appoint Office of Open Records director Terry Mutchler
Harrisburg Patriot News: Corbett’s office ordered to give smog-related documents to environmentalists
York Daily Record: State Sen. Scott Wagner says Pa.’s largest teachers union ‘has declared war on Pennsylvania Taxpayers’
Lancaster Intelligencer/Era: Local health advocates find Obamacare rulings confusing

North by Northwest
Erie Times-News: $2.3M to benefit Erie nonprofit groups
Centre Daily Times: Jay Paterno, Bill Kenney file suit against Penn State
Williamsport Sun Gazette: Local volunteer companies among those scheduled to get grants to fight forest fires

Observer-Reporter: A Kansas experiment gone awry
The Intelligencer: ‘Free’ trips yield a debt of gratitude
Delco Daily Times: How old is too old to drive in Pennsylvania?
Harrisburg Patriot News: Despite what you’ve read, Pa. is protecting public health on Marcellus shale
York Daily Record: Law to expand reporting of sexual abuse has worked
Post-Gazette:Holy Family is showing compassion by welcoming immigrant children: Holy Family’s aid to refugee children needs support
Post-Gazette:Extending the nuclear talks with Iran was a sound step forward
Tribune Review:The Moody’s downgrade: Inaction’s price
Times-Tribune: Jobs grow with wages
Standard Speaker: Legislators skip issues, skip town

Commonwealth Foundation: Court ruling guts Obamacare Subsidies in PA
Keystone State Education Coalition: Pa. needs to fix the way it pays for its public schools
Citizens Call: Upbeat fiscal outlook for Cheltenham Township, just not the one you might assume

PA-Gov: Democratic PAC’s New Ad Blasts Corbett (VIDEO)

PA Families First, an independent PAC, shelled out nearly $2 million to air a new television advertisement that attacks Governor Corbett for his alleged cuts to education.

The 30 second ad will air in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Johnstown, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia.

Entitled “Paycheck,” the advertisement discusses Corbett’s first budget, which cut basic school funding by $1 billion. Local districts subsequently made cutbacks, and raised property taxes in some areas.

Corbett stated that he did not cut funding and has invested $1.5 billion in education over the last four decades. He believes that his challenger Tom Wolf will ignore the current pension crisis, an issue that the Governor states is the main cause for property tax increases.

The ad also places pressure on Corbett to back a production tax on Pennsylvania’s natural-gas drilling industry.

The natural gas industry “is not paying its fair share,” according to the advertisement.

The Corbett campaign countered that natural gas companies have paid over $2 billion in taxes over the last six years. The $630 million “local impact fee” also had statewide benefits.

Chris Pack, the Governor’s communications director stated that “Wolf has been bought and paid for by the public sector union bosses…to ignore the need for pension reform in Pennsylvania.”

According to Thomas Fitzgerald of the Inquirer, PA Families First is supported by the Democratic Governor’s Association, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal (AFSCME), the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.

So far this month, another outside PAC called NextGen and the Wolf-aligned FreshStartPA have also launched ads against Governor Corbett.

PA-Sen: Toomey Calls for U.S. Action Against Putin

Pat ToomeySenator Pat Toomey (R-PA) discussed Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s possible involvement in the death of the 298 people aboard Malaysia Airlines flight 17, shot down by pro-Russian separatists last Thursday, and what the U.S. can do to incite a retirement that Toomey does not believe will come peacefully.

“When you are a thug, when you have the blood of your own people on your hands, when you have suppressed dissent and crushed democracy and robbed billions of dollars, a peaceful retirement is not necessarily a viable option,” he said. “And so he’s going to continue this sort of thing, unless and until we push back so hard that threatens his power more than continuing.”

Secretary of State John Kerry claimed several days after the tragedy, which occurred in Eastern Ukraine near the Russian border, that much evidence points to the involvement of the Russian government. Toomey, however, is not so much interested in immediate conclusive evidence that the government was involved, but seems instead to want to add this likely crime to a past long list of past wrongdoings by Putin.

“I think it’s time we be very, very clear about who Putin is here,” Toomey said. “This guy is clearly, he is a thug. He is an authoritarian dictator at this point, with a very, very aggressive and very dangerous foreign policy bent. We don’t frankly need to know exactly the precise role that Russia played in the downing of this jet. We need to find out eventually, but what we know now is that Putin deserves some blame for this.”

“I think the president should come out and make it clear that this man should be an international pariah,” he said.

He offered hard examples of what the U.S. could do in the pursuit of Putin’s demise. “One thing we can do is go after financial sanctions that hit Putin personally, hit the people who are close to him, his crony capitalist buddies who have collectively robbed the Russian people from so many billions of dollars,” he concluded. “We have the ability to do that and we should.”

The President last announced new sanctions against Russia just two days before the tragedy.

Moody’s Downgrades Pennsylvania’s Credit Rating

110810_moodys_ap_605Credit rating agency Moody’s decided to downgrade Pennsylvania’s rating from Aa2 to Aa3 on its $11.1 billion in general obligation bonds.

A statement from Moody’s explains why the downgrade was necessary: “The downgrade of the general obligation rating to Aa3 reflects the commonwealth’s growing structural imbalance, exacerbated by the fiscal 2015 enacted budget that depends on non-recurring resources; a weak GAAP [generally accepted accounting principles] balance position that will further deteriorate based on the budget’s one-time measures; and the expectation that large and growing pension liabilities coupled with modest economic growth will limit Pennsylvania’s ability to regain structural balance in the near term.”

Gov. Tom Corbett, who at first refused to sign the state budget proposal without significant pension reform, seemed vindicated by Moody’s criticism.

“It’s clear that this pension crisis has put severe strain on Pennsylvania’s finances,” Corbett said. “As families struggle with skyrocketing property taxes, pension costs are consuming more than 60 cents of every new dollar of state general fund revenues. Doing nothing is not an option and doing nothing fails our families.”

Not surprisingly, the downgrade has turned into a political ‘blame game,’ with Gov. Corbett blaming the lack of pension reform and Democrats condemning Corbett’s leadership.

“Today, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Pennsylvania’s credit rating citing Tom Corbett’s gimmick-filled budget, weak economy, and failed leadership,” Democratic nominee Tom Wolf said.

Corbett’s campaign responded in kind to Wolf’s comments.

“Moody’s has cited the Commonwealth’s growing pension liabilities as a primary reason for downgrading Pennsylvania’s credit rating despite millionaire Secretary Tom Wolf’s repeated denial of a pension crisis,” Chris Pack, communications director for the Corbett-Cawley Campaign said. “It is a true shame that despite all of the evidence of our state’s pension crisis that Secretary Tom Wolf continues to deny there is a problem at all. It is time for Secretary Tom Wolf to stop denying our state’s pension crisis for his selfish political reasons and instead encourage his Democratic cohorts to do what is right for the 12.7 million residents of Pennsylvania and not just what is best for the Harrisburg special interests.”

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) countered, “He had four years to try to do things right, but all he did was put our state in a more precarious financial position. The governor’s near-total reliance on one-time, non-recurring revenue to ‘balance’ this year’s budget was transparently political, and Moody’s called him out on it.”

Republicans stood behind Corbett, claiming that pension reform is the reason why Moody’s decided to downgrade the commonwealth.

“In signing four balanced budgets, the governor has closed a $4 billion budget deficit while refusing to raise taxes on Pennsylvania families,” State Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said. “The bottom line is that structural deficiencies threaten the long-term stability and sustainability of our public pension systems, putting Pennsylvania taxpayers and the public school employees’ futures at risk. The time for pension reform is now.”

The downgrade from Aa2 to Aa3 may make it harder for the state to borrow money in the future, though Moody’s views Pennsylvania’s outlook as “stable.” What may be more important for our elected officials is who gets stuck with the blame for Pennsylvania’s financial issues heading into the election in November.

Reader Poll: Who is your Favorite Former PA Governor?

PA-Governor-Mansion2Well, we once again find ourselves in the midst of a gubernatorial race.

Given that we’re stuck in that summer lull between the end of primary season and Labor Day, it seems like the perfect opportunity to take a look back at the past occupants of the Governor’s Mansion.

Since the 1968 State Constitution, PA’s leaders have been able to run for a second term. Therefore, this makes sense as a logical point to start with. Additionally, since incumbent Governor Tom Corbett is still in the midst of this tenure it wouldn’t be fair to include him.

Finally, we’ll only include chief executives who were elected to their position (sorry Gov. Schweiker).

So, dear readers, which former Governor is your favorite?

Who is your personal favorite former PA Governor?

View Results

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Reader Poll: Financial Reports Affect Voter’s Perceptions of a Race

Money-bagApparently, money does matter.

At least that’s the views of our readers. In the wake of the recent FEC quarterly fundraising reports, we decided to ask readers whether cash totals change their view about an election contest.

According to our readers, fundraising reports do affect their perceptions of a race.

191 responded that financial totals are a good indication of how the campaigns are doing. Meanwhile, 131 feel money has nothing to do with the quality of the candidates.

The full results are included below:

Do financial reports affect your perception of a race?

  • Yes, they are a good indicator of where the campaign currently stands (59%)
  • No, they have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the candidates (41%)

Total Voters: 322

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7/22 Morning Buzz

PA-state-flag6Corbett has immigration concerns, a look at the foreign trips PA lawmakers take and the Tribune-Review talks to Paul Ryan. Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz!

Corbett Reluctant to Allow Immigrant Children into Pennsylvania: The Governor weighed in on the debate over what to do about the Central American children who have crossed the border into the United States.

PA Lawmakers Take More Free Trips, Defend Legality: In the wake of the House Ethics Committee’s elimination of some requirements in lawmakers’ privately-funded travel disclosure, representatives steadily increase their free travel.

Paul Ryan Discusses Poverty, Immigration with Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Salena Zito sat down with Paul Ryan to hear his thoughts on poverty and immigration reform.

StateImpact PA: Corbett agrees to hold off on new gas leases on state lands pending lawsuit
PLS Reporter: Eric Fillman, Deputy Chief Counsel for Ethics for the House Democratic Caucus
PLS Reporter: Eliminating reports could save legislative study committee nearly $500,000
Capitolwire: Real challenges of pension crisis are to find needed revenues, eliminate taxpayer risk
Capitolwire: The partisan argument over best way to help school districts manage rising pension costs

PhillyClout: An annotated read of today’s news about pensions and politics
PhillyClout: Tea party threatens agency that helps small businesses
The Inquirer: Fiscal board approves Phila. 5-year plan
The Inquirer: Republicans must overcome schism among Harrisburg power brokers
The Inquirer: Eastern president criticized over letter to Obama
The Inquirer: Kenyatta Johnson acknowledges his group got more than “hundreds of dollars”
WHYY NewsWorks: Health experts contest Corbett comments about Central American kids, health risk
WHYY NewsWorks: Another probe of Philly lawmakers accused of accepting cash, gifts may be under way
WHYY NewsWorks: Corbett not expecting legal action from Pa. lawmakers over spending cuts
WHYY NewsWorks: Philly ethics board considers tightening PAC loophole

AP: Pennsylvania sees 3rd rating downgrade in 2 years
Bucks County Courier Times: Middletown EIT revenue ahead of estimate
Delco Daily Times: Congressional incumbents dwarf challengers in fundraising
Daily Local NewsL Hogan appointed to board of state DA program

Pittsburgh Business Times: Corbett upbeat on Beaver County cracker plant
Pittsburgh Business Times: Peduto to meet with Kickstarter CEO
Pittsburgh Business Times: Moody’s downgrades Pennsylvania’s bond rating
Tribune Review: Corbett’s chances at holding Pa. governor job tied to GOP nest egg
Tribune Review: Bond service Moody’s downgrades state’s rating
Post-Gazette: Planners see potential in a revamped Mellon Square
KDKA: Bishop Zubik Defends Holy Family Institute, Fostering Immigrant Children

Observer-Reporter: Lawmakers to examine problem of missing fingerprints
Beaver County Times: Pittsburgh Bishop endorses move by Holy Family to house children
Beaver County Times: What you should know about crude oil on trains coming through Pa.
Altoona Mirror: Rent changes upset some
Altoona Mirror: Tea Party activists push agenda
AP: Ethics agency probes lawmakers named in cash sting

News Item: Will revenue projections hold up over fiscal year?
Citizens Voice: Casey seeks hearing on pepper spray bill
Citizens Voice: Budget supports create uncertainty
The Times Leader: Disgraced ‘Kids for Cash’ attorney Robert Powell facing civil suit in federal court
The Times Leader: Yuknavich trial rescheduled pending grand jury findings
The Times Leader: Another veteran Luzerne County manager leaving
Times-Tribune: Scranton commuter tax would be additional earned-income tax
Standard Speaker: County plans complicate downtown building’s future
Standard Speaker: State sheriffs reach goal with Act 114

Lehigh Valley
Morning Call: Homeowner tax break likely for 2015 in Lower Macungie
Morning Call: Northampton County officials cracking down on lies and forgery in court
Reading Eagle: Pennsylvania’s standing in study on kids improves 1 spot
WFMZ: Enrollment dips in Bangor
Express Times: Oxford Township committeeman resigns amid harassment allegations

South Central
Carlisle Sentinel: Incidents rise, but costs decrease for Cumberland County coroner’s office
Harrisburg Patriot News: Pa. taxpayers will feel pinch on credit downgrade, state leaders point fingers
Harrisburg Patriot News: Unaccompanied immigrant children would attend local schools, but don’t qualify for deportation amnesty
Harrisburg Patriot News: Corbett, Wolf: ‘Rope-a-Dope’ and other games of the 2014 campaign summer
York Daily Record: Pennsylvania sees 3rd rating downgrade in 2 years
York Dispatch: Rep. Mike Regan to host medical pot forum in Fairview Twp.
York Dispatch: U.S. Rep, Scott Perry nominated for brigadier general post
Lebanon Daily News: Lebanon School Board deal could allow armed security officers

North by Northwest
Centre Daily Times: Water woes vex Philipsburg
Onward State: Penn State Career Services Ranked #2 In America

Philadelphia City Paper: Terry Gillen’s confusing stance on development
Philly Now: PA GOP-Democratic Party fights continue online with ‘inbred, ignorant rednecks” tweet
Tribune Review: The federal budget: Here we go again
Post-Gazette: What’s going on? UPMC-Highmark deal leaves public confused
Times-Tribune: Solutions don’t reach table
Times-Tribune: DRBC gas pains
Standard Speaker: Gas law still shuts out citizens, docs
Carlisle Sentinel: Our View: Higher speed limit comes with risk
Harrisburg Patriot News: Pa. needs to fix the way it pays for its public schools: As I See It

Keystone State Education Coalition: Gov. Corbett considering special session on pension reform, plans to speak with House and Senate leaders
Keystone Politics: Four state lawmakers want to squash Philadelphia’s pop-up beer gardens
Commonwealth Foundation: Politics on the public dime
2 Political Junkies: Climate denier Governor to meet with climate scientists
2 Political Junkies: In case you missed it, McCullough Trial Delayed. AGAIN

Paul Ryan Discusses Poverty, Immigration with Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Paul RyanRep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is taking a different approach to poverty than most Washington lawmakers do, reports Salena Zito of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Zito spoke with the 2012 Vice-Presidential nominee and current House Budget Committee chairman about the future of anti-poverty programs in the United States. Ryan previously worked for the Housing and Urban Development’s Empower America program.

During his time with HUD, Ryan met Bob Woodson, Founder and President of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. Woodson has been developing and coordinating national and community development programs in impoverished areas since the 1960’s.

Ryan began visiting low-income neighborhoods in February 2013 with Woodson, emphasizing in his speeches that government programs implemented in the last 50 years fail to combat poverty, and merely perpetuate it.

In his “The War on Poverty: 50 years later,” Ryan writes that the 92 federal programs enacted since President Johnson launched his “War on Poverty” have had little success.

“The federal government’s anti-poverty programs have reduced the incentive to work via the complex web of federal programs and sudden drop-off in benefits causing extraordinarily high marginal tax rates,” Ryan wrote.

Through his April House Budget Proposal entitled “A Path to Prosperity,” Ryan aims to reduce spending by $5.1 trillion over ten years.

Ryan wrote that, “this budget applies the lessons of welfare reform to other federal-aid programs.” Its long term goal is to “empower recipients to get off the aid rolls and back on the payroll.”

Woodson told the Tribune-Review he believes Ryan has visited more poor urban households than members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and that the Wisconsin Representative has been “giving validation and recognition to people that many times their own representative ignore.”

Ryan also briefly discussed his thoughts on the border crisis, as he is one of the GOP’s most high profile supporters of fixing our nation’s immigration policy.

Firmly believing that we need to secure our borders, Ryan favors accountability for illegal immigrants. The Congressman stated that if an undocumented worker is discovered, he or she must acknowledge that they broke the law, pay a fine, undergo background checks, and learn English and civics. This probationary learning period allows them the opportunity to earn a work permit.

Unfortunately, according to Ryan, immigration reform is a matter of “when,” and with the President and Congress in constant gridlock, it is unclear when, or if, any tangible legislation will be considered or approved.

Rep. Ryan is reportedly considering vying for the GOP nomination in 2016, and if he were to win the Presidential election, it is certain that poverty and immigration would be among his top priorities.

PA Lawmakers Take More Free Trips, Defend Legality

Charlie-DentThe Associated Press revealed in a report yesterday that, along with the entire House of Representatives, PA representatives approximately tripled their number of privately-funded trips between 2008 and 2013.

In 2008, PA representatives took 17 free trips. In 2013, they took 47, and so far this year, they have already taken 41.

Accepting free travel is allowed, but the House Ethics Committee must approve the trip in advance and representatives have to disclose all paid-for expenses within two weeks of their return.

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-15) and his staff took the most privately-funded trips in 2013 and 2014. They together took seven trips last year and already eight trips thus far in 2014. Some costs are as minor as a $57 bus ride to Maryland and Delaware for one of his staffers to attend the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association.

However, a few trips have been significantly more expensive. He and his wife spent a $24,000 week in Japan on the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress’ (USAFMC) dollar. His reports to the House Ethics Committee claim meetings with the Japanese prime minister concerning trade policy as the reason for his travel.

He also spent some time in Germany in 2014, where he met with political and business leaders to “discuss trade, Ukraine, the National Security Agency and other matters.” This trip cost the USAFMC over $10,000.

Dent, who is a member of the House Ethics Committee that approves such travel, maintains that all of the trips he or his staff have taken were completely legal.

“None of the trips cost a taxpayer a single dollar,” he said. “All were promptly and properly disclosed.”

Although the AP’s report focused on the House of Representatives, it did state that Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), took just one less privately-funded trip than Dent in 2013 and 2014. However, Dent’s travel cost around $90,000, while Toomey’s cost only $12,000.

Monetarily, Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-7) seems to be the biggest spender after Dent, accepting over $23,000 in 2013 alone.

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) was listed as having received the least private travel aid of PA lawmakers. His office took just two trips in 2013 and 2014, neither of which he attended himself.

Media scrutiny of congressional travel gifts has become prevalent this month after the House Ethics Committee eliminated the personal financial forms made necessary in 2007 when lobbyist Jack Abramoff was convicted of bribing congressmen with gifts and favors.

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