BREAKING: Sestak Changes His Earmark Story, Again
Allentown – After days of denying any knowledge about a prohibited earmark request that his congressional office secured, Congressman Joe Sestak is now changing his tune and admitting that he had misled the public about the earmark scandal when it was first uncovered, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. The Allentown Morning Call recently discovered that Congressman Sestak had earmarked $350,000 for a group named the Thomas Paine Foundation to build a wind turbine demonstration project. But according to the Morning Call, the taxpayer funds were never intended for the atheist non-profit, but rather for a for-profit group called New Way Energy, founded by Drew Devitt. The Thomas Paine Foundation, also run by Devitt, was used to circumvent new congressional rules against earmarks for for-profit companies. For days, Congressman Sestak denied any knowledge of the earmark’s true destination, even blaming Drew Devitt for misleading him. Now, according to the Philadelphia Daily News, Congressman Sestak released documents demonstrating that he knew all along that the funds were intended for the for-profit group, New Way Energy. Timeline: Saturday, August 28, 2010: According to the Morning Call, “Sestak’s congressional office verified that the Thomas Paine Foundation is a nonprofit, spokesman Jonathon Dworkin said. He said Sestak’s office did not know that Devitt runs a for-profit company that develops wind turbines.” Tuesday, August 31, 2010: Sestak told Chris Brennan of the Philadelphia Daily News, “Nowhere in the paperwork that he submitted did he ever mention that he was associated with a for-profit. If now he’s saying something else, then he should be held accountable for misrepresenting what he did.” According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review “[Sestak staff member] April Mellody blamed Devitt for misleading Sestak staffers when he pitched the project. She said Devitt did not talk to Sestak about the project directly.” Mellody also said that “all the appropriate due diligence was done.” Thursday, September 2, 2010: The Philadelphia Daily News released a letter Congressman Sestak wrote to the Department of Energy which clearly demonstrates that Sestak knew the Thomas Paine Foundation and New Way Energy were related. Congressman Sestak writes in the first paragraph: “Mr. Devitt would like to discuss utility scale, floating Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) as a means to reach off-shore winds quickly and cost effectively. The technology has been developed in conjunction with his non-profit organization, the Thomas Paine Foundation.” “Over the past couple of days, Congressman Sestak has broken congressional rules, misled the public about his involvement in the violation, and tried to funnel hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to a tiny atheist group to build a wind turbine demonstration project with which it had no experience,” Toomey Communications Director Nachama Soloveichik said. “Many questions remain about which story is the real one, why Congressman Sestak tried to cover it up, and whether Pennsylvania taxpayers can trust anything Congressman Sestak says.” Congressman Sestak owes Pennsylvania taxpayers the following answers: 1) Will he publicly release all of his and his office’s correspondence related to the Thomas Paine Foundation earmark, Drew Devitt, and New Way Energy? 2) Since he is now admitting “error,” will he hold himself accountable by submitting this matter to the House Ethics Committee and face sanctions for his violation of the House rule against for-profit earmarks? 3) Will he explain to Pennsylvania taxpayers why he thinks it’s a good use of their money to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to a corporation through a backroom deal in violation of House rules?