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.

Corbett Reluctant to Allow Immigrant Children into Pennsylvania

Governor-Tom-CorbettThe Holy Family Institute in Emsworth, Allegheny County, has offered to take care of some of the child immigrants from Central America, but Gov. Tom Corbett is worried about the spread of disease.

In addition to his health concerns, Corbett believes that the children who crossed the border illegally must be returned to their native countries.

“We feel for these children that they are fleeing their countries. We want to make sure they are taken care of and returned to their countries. But we also are concerned about their health and what they may cause as far as health issues in the state of Pennsylvania,” Corbett said in a statement.

“From my standpoint, where they are coming in, there are certainly enough military bases in Texas and Arizona that the federal government could at least house them there temporarily to make sure before they send them to any state that their health conditions are okay for that,” he continued. “That they’ve had all their immunizations and so forth because we have a strong concern on that. From a humanitarian standpoint you want to make sure these kids get taken care of but they need to be returned to their country of origin.”

Though Pennsylvania is many miles from the U.S.-Mexican border, Corbett is uneasy about the immigrants possible effect on the commonwealth.

“Measles is one that comes to mind very quickly and what other diseases that they may or may not have,” Corbett explained. “We can not be a country that just takes everything that comes here without at least looking into the background of this. And again this is one where the federal government hasn’t even talked to the states about ‘Can we send them into your state?’”

The Holy Family Institute in Emsworth, which is run by Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, volunteered to temporarily host a portion of the immigrant children.

David Zubik, the bishop of Pittsburgh, has released a statement regarding the Central American kids.

“There have been questions as to why Catholics are involved,” Zubik said. “The Catholic Church responds to humanitarian crises here at home and all across the world because we are pro-life. Being pro-life requires we protect and care for vulnerable persons from conception to natural death. It has been reported that some of these children are fleeing violence. The current law requires that they receive a hearing to determine if in fact they are refugees fleeing grave danger.”

“Whether they are traveling because of poverty, or violence, or with the hope of reuniting with relatives on the other side of the border, followers of Jesus are called to protect these children and help them because they are very vulnerable and defenseless against any abuse or misfortune.”

The national discourse over what to do with the Central American illegal immigrant children has apparently spread to Pennsylvania. Bishop Zubik is ready to welcome the immigrant kids; Gov. Corbett, meanwhile, is nervous about allowing the the Central American children into the commonwealth.

7/21 Morning Buzz

PA-state-flag6Our winners and losers of the latest fundraising reports, Rep. Marino’s press secretary is arrested and the state’s June jobs report is released. Plus, last week’s Ups & Downs! Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz!

July Quarterly Fundraising Winners & Losers: The finance reports have been filed, posted and picked apart. See who made the list.

7/18 Ups & Downs: The July fundraising reports came out, one nominee is being urged to drop out and some awkward additions to the State Capitol. See who made this week’s list.

Rep. Marino’s Press Secretary Arrested: Ryan Shucard was charged with a felony for bringing a gun into a Capitol Hill office this morning.

June Jobs Report: Unemployment Rate Remains Steady at 5.6%: Unemployment in Pennsylvania remained unchanged at 5.6% while the state added 1,800 jobs, according to the latest report.

PA-Gov Round-Up: Who is Tom Steyer and How Did He Get in This Race?: We take a look at the events of the last week in the state’s gubernatorial race.

Capitolwire: Corbett agrees not to sign new leases for state forest or park land until court decision
Capitolwire: Judge critiques DEP, fellow judges in Act 13 ruling dissent
Capitolwire: Court rejects PUC’s review of natural gas ordinances, upholds other portions of Act 13
State House Sound Bites: A fine point in dispute over Corbett’s partial veto
State House Sound Bites: Property tax reform efforts spring eternal
PA Independent: Even with GOP majority, Pennsylvania can’t push ahead conservative agenda

Daily News: District publishes employee salaries
PhillyNow: Pro-immigration rally overwhelms, drowns out Tea Party protest
The Inquirer: Philly woman at the heart of the VA scandal
The Inquirer: Corbett struggles to energize the base
Philadelphia Business Journal: Ed Rendell calls out politicians for not investing in infrastructure
WHYY NewsWorks: Pa. labor secretary says demand still strong for STEM grads
WHYY NewsWorks: Corbett concerned by immigrant kids coming to Pa.
WHYY NewsWorks: Philly’s new chief data officer sees open data as national trend
WHYY NewsWorks: Corbett’s push for Pa. pension overhaul endures
WHYY NewsWorks: ‘Right-sizing’ supporters eye Pa. House reductions after spring fiasco
PhillyClout: City and D.C. 33 have their first of many days in court
PhillyClout: Union PAC spends big for Boyle
PhillyClout: Counsel offers final closing arguments in Traffic Court trial
CapitolInq: House passes Gerlach bill on land preservation

Pottstown Mercury: Montgomery, Chester county planners meet to discuss common issues
AP: Fitzpatrick, Meehan demand VA claims investigation
AP: Pa. lawmakers target Philly’s pop-up beer gardens
Delco Daily Times: EPA provides grant to improve urban waterways
Bucks County Courier Times: Congress weighs tax credits for Hurricane Sandy victims

KDKA: Peduto Makes History With Virtual Town Hall On Reddit
KDKA: Gov. Corbett Says Health A Main Concern With Immigration
Post-Gazette: Democrats expect gains in state Senate
Early Returns: A rival for Clinton?
Tribune Review: Rep. Ryan gets serious about poverty
Tribune Review: Workers strive for independence in ‘flex economy’
Pittsburgh Business Times: Pennsylvania unemployment flat following recent declines

Beaver County Times: New Blackhawk superintendent keeps focus on education
Beaver County Times: Industry Council unveils bids to replace destroyed borough garage
AP: Pa. lawmakers take more free, legal trips
Altoona Mirror: Crowd expected at borough meeting
Altoona Mirror: State budget shows increase in funding for education

Times-Tribune: Heroin in NEPA: “Nothing short of an epidemic”
Times-Tribune: City council interviews 12 for vacant seat
The Times Leader: Experts: Students are sticking around
The Times Leader: ‘Kids for Cash’ goes international
The Times Leader: Web petition wants to stop Sherman Hills funding
AP: Corbett seeks to change view of education record
AP: Congressman’s staffer denies guilt in gun case
Citizens Voice: Business partners sue kids-for-cash figure
Citizens Voice: Special legislative session an option for Corbett
Pocono Record: Public salaries: It pays to be a top-level educator in the Poconos

South Central
Carlisle Sentinel: Economists: Midstate lags behind national average in labor market recovery, housing
Carlisle Sentinel: Data breaches hit the Midstate
York Daily Record: Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s board adopts screening policy
York Daily Record: Think Loud hosted fundraiser for Gov. Corbett before getting $5M state grant
York Dispatch: Rep. Gillespie asks taxpayers about school consolidation
Lancaster Intelligencer/Era: Will federal agency give pipeline foes a fair hearing?
Lancaster Intelligencer/Era: A guide to Pennsylvania’s taxpayer-funded pension crisis

Lehigh Valley
Morning Call: Inversion loophole puts U.S. tax policy in a jackpot
Morning Call: Allentown developers cultivating political influence
Morning Call: Lehigh Valley right fit for plastics manufacture
WFMZ: Counterfeiters victimize Northampton County businesses
Express Times: U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent’s office racks up most privately funded trips in Pa. House so far this year

North by Northwest
Erie Times-News: Corbett, Wolf to speak to Erie-area business group
Erie Times-News: Cash starting to pile up in Erie-area congressional races
Williamsport Sun Gazette: Commissioners OK road designs and improvements
Williamsport Sun Gazette: Task force hears new guidelines for prescriptions

Altoona Mirror: Legislature should have stalled 1060
Altoona Mirror: Pennsylvania’s political climate troubling
Tribune Review: A poor reflection of America
Tribune Review: ‘Diversity’ or discrimination?: A step back
Tribune Review: Republicans should neither sue nor impeach President Obama
Tribune Review: Corbett sends a signal
Post-Gazette: Fixing pensions: Tax relief won’t come soon under Corbett’s plan
Carlisle Sentinel: Our View: Bring more video to courtrooms
Harrisburg Patriot News: Gov. Corbett sounded the alarm on pensions – history will thank him: Oren Spiegler
Harrisburg Patriot News: Employers, here’s what the end of PA’s gay marriage ban means for you: Casey L. Sipe
Lebannon Daily News: Pa. endlessly gunning for end to pigeon shoots
Times-Tribune: AH good case to change law
Times-Tribune: Keep board’s fingers off teacher list
Citizens Voice: Legislature, still too big, leaves town
Pocono Record: Wasting away again in Pocono Mtn. schools
WHYY NewsWorks: Casey Stengel would have recognized the mess at the VA
The Inquirer: A promise shredded

Citizens Call: Cheltenham picks two school board members in a challenging process
Keystone Politics: Pension Payments and Tom Wolf’s first term
Keystone Politics: Corbett Screwed
Pittston Politics: PA majority says no to tax decrease, no more free dinners
Pennsylvania Progressive: Obama Executive order will expedite infrastructure initiatives
Keystone State Education Coalition: Sturla: historically, no other administration has ever included pension costs when calculating levels of education funding

PA-Gov Round-Up: Who is Tom Steyer and How Did He Get in This Race?

PA-Governor-Mansion2This week, all of a sudden, a third Tom popped up in the race for PA Governor.


It all began last Friday when NextGen, a 501(c)(4) organization founded by billionaire Tom Steyer that focuses on climate change, launched a TV ad criticizing Gov. Corbett for his support of oil and gas companies.

The Corbett-Cawley campaign responded later that day by labeling Steyer a “San Francisco billionaire” and questioning his motives and qualifications.

“Tom Steyer is a hypocrite who made his fortune by investing in the coal industry who is now waging a war on coal because it will benefit him financially,” Communications Director Chris Pack stated.

Meanwhile, Steyer found himself under fire when the New York Times reported on investments his firm had made in fossil fuel industries. Steyer wrote a response in Politico Magazine explaining how, as he also states on NextGen’s website, he left the organization after a personal revelation lead him to focus on the dangers of climate change.

The Corbett campaign and the RGA continued to hammer Steyer throughout the week and called on Wolf to denounce him.

“Liberal California billionaire Tom Steyer masquerades as an environmentalist, but his bottom line tells a different story,” RGA Communications Director Gail Gitcho said. “Steyer uses his wealth and connections to influence government officials to push his own agenda, so it’s no surprise he’s bankrolling Tom Wolf’s campaign with misleading attacks on the same kind of energy projects that Pennsylvanians rely on.”

The practice of turning a high-profile political contributor into a partisan boogeyman is a common political tactic. Republicans have regularly denounced Hungarian magnate George Soros ever since he pledged to oust then-President George W. Bush in 2003. Similarly, Democrats have ceaselessly used the Koch Brothers as a foil ever since Jane Mayer wrote a seminal New Yorker piece on Charles and David Koch.

It appears Steyer is becoming the next figure of scorn and Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race is where it all started.


On the other side, Democratic nominee Tom Wolf sought to fight back against the Governor’s own attack ad concerning Wolf’s time as Secretary of Revenue.

“It’s not a surprise that Tom Corbett is attacking Tom Wolf with misleading and false ads. Pennsylvanians are ready for a fresh start, especially after more than three years of Tom Corbett’s failed leadership,” said Wolf Campaign Spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan. “Under Tom Corbett, education has suffered, gas companies aren’t paying their fair share, and Pennsylvania has fallen to the bottom in job creation. Tom Corbett has increased the tax burden on the middle class, while letting his top donors off the hook.”

Sheridan also took umbrage at the assertion that Wolf was trying to hide his time in Governor Rendell’s cabinet from the voters.

“Tom proudly mentioned his time as Revenue Secretary throughout the campaign including in his first TV ad,” he wrote. “While Secretary of Revenue, Tom instituted reforms that protected and strengthened the state lottery, which laid the foundation for millions of dollars in additional benefits for our seniors. As Revenue Secretary, Tom turned down the perks and donated his salary to charity. He even drove his own Jeep all across Pennsylvania to meet with 2,000+ workers and learn more about their jobs.”

Rep. Marino’s Press Secretary Arrested

GunOne of Congressman Marino’s staffers found himself in hot water today.

At 9:15 this morning, Ryan Shucard was arrested for attempting to carry a 9mm handgun and magazine into the Cannon House Office Building.

Shucard has been Rep. Tom Marino’s press secretary since May 2014.

Capitol Police discovered the gun and magazine during the routine search required to enter any government office building. Citizens, even those with government badges, must pass through metal detectors and place their bags on an x-ray belt.

Shucard was charged with the felony of carrying a pistol without a license.

In recent years, prosecutors have occasionally dropped high profile gun-possession cases in government buildings. Phillip Thompson, an aide to then Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) was arrested in 2007 for bringing a loaded gun into the Russell Senate Office building. Thompson was never convicted.

Marino’s Chief of Staff Bill Tighe commented that Shucard has immediately been placed on unpaid leave.

“That will last until we know more about the situation,” stated Tighe.

Shucard attended Columbine High School, George Washington University, and the University of Northern Colorado. In 2011, he worked as a staff assistant for Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT).

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