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Knowles Seeks to Rally GOP Against CAP

The reports are still out, but the Citizens Alliance for Pennsylvania probably spent between $30,000 and $50,000 to defeat Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Schuylkill). It’s not new; CAP has been targeting moderate Republicans and incumbents signed on to the state pension plan for years. Now, Knowles is hoping to rally his colleague against the group.

In a letter sent to every Republican member of the Pa. House and Senate, obtained by PoliticsPA, Knowles issued a call to action.

“I write today as a warning to each of you. I spent more than $50,000 and worked tirelessly over the last four months to fend off attacks from ‘our friends.’ We’re all vulnerable to this! Their future attacks may well divide our caucus and cost us money that should be spent in November against big spending, big government liberals who seek to defeat us and our principles,” he wrote.

All told, CAP spent about half a million dollars against Republicans this primary cycle. They boosted challengers to Sens. Dave Argall and Pat Vance, and Reps. Ron Miller and Stan Saylor. Most notably, the group helped Joe McGinnis, the Republican who ousted House icon Rep. Rick Geist.

CAP sent half a dozen direct mailer in Knowles’ race.

“I know Stan Saylor, Ron Miller, Rick Geist and others were targeted this year and CAP’s Pre-Primary report shows more than $357,298 was spent against us – and that total doesn’t include any of the final two weeks of spending,” Knowles continued. “I can only imagine how much the Democrats must be enjoying the work of CAP…”

The half-a-million figure includes spending on behalf of candidates in open seats – Raja for State Senate, and Dan Johnson and Anne Chapman for State House. CAP even helped a pair of incumbents who faced primaries: Reps. RoseMarie Swanger and Rick Saccone.

Spokesman Leo Knepper dismissed Knowles’ criticism.

“It’s unfortunate that Jerry Knowles thinks that he’s above a competitive election and should be automatically re-elected,” he said. “The Soviet Union didn’t bother with elections and it ended badly for them.”

Knowles has a reputation as a conservative, and he challenged anyone to point to a vote he’d taken against the party line. His sins, according to CAP, include: being enrolled in the state pension system (his GOP opponent, Larry Padora, had pledged to opt out), being too slow to co-sponsor House Right-to-Work legislation (which he ultimately did), sponsoring a bill that would prohibit the privatization of nursing care in state prisons, and voting for the Capital Budget act (a vote that split the GOP caucus). In other words, no smoking gun.

Critics of CAP – and there are many in the halls of the Capitol – say the group is actually helping Democrats by spending resources against Republicans. PoliticsPA even teased CAP on the issue on April Fools Day this year.

CAP says it aims to keep Republicans honest – to prevent the gentle slide into big government and personal perks that has claimed GOPers in the past. A spokesman said the group plans to help its candidates in the general election, too.

But Knowles says he sees more to it than that. Knepper, along with previous recent leadership of CAP, are natives of Schuylkill County. The Republican party there has undergone period of upheaval recently, and as is often the case in local politics factionalism has been a problem.

“Why a statewide PAC would allow itself to get pulled into petty county politics is beyond me,” he said.

Knepper said that his Schuylkill County connection, “just means that I was aware of some of his decisions as County Commissioner,” as well as the fact that Knowles was formerly a Democrat.

43 Responses

  1. Most of the things you articulate is supprisingly legitimate and it makes me wonder the reason why I had not looked at this with this light before. This particular piece truly did turn the light on for me as far as this subject goes. Nonetheless at this time there is one particular point I am not too cozy with so while I attempt to reconcile that with the main theme of your point, let me see what the rest of the visitors have to say.Very well done.

  2. HDCC on May 2, 2012 at 11:48 am said:
    “Our PI is checking the other “anonymous” posts on this stream and others. So far we know they came from the same place. Say something.”

    Say something?

    Tell your PI my ip address is and my name is Frank Kennedy.

    And if you hypocritical Tea Party rascals don’t knock your bullsh*it off, I might start disclosing what I know about Padora, The Sterns, and others in Schuylkill County.

    So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    Signed: Frank Kennedy IP #

  3. “Good luck crusader. Let us know when you give up. And don’t forget to sign your name to your “public” accusations.”

    Signed Frank Kennedy.

    What is your name?

  4. Good luck crusader. Let us know when you give up. And don’t forget to sign your name to your “public” accusations.

  5. Proof exists that Joe Sterns, while working at CAP ( a non partisan – non profit supposedly) was using CAP time and resources to promote Larry Padora as a candidate for Schuylkill County Commissioner. What could be the ramifications of that? …possibly the loss of CAP’s tax exempt status among other violations.

    And they are hypocrites. They all got political payback after the last election with various appointments and access to health care and pensions, the very things they rail against.

    Enough is enough.

  6. Interesting that they pulled this from the main news feed. That’s how I was following the comments.

    I was also adding comments as I learned more about CAP. I also saw that they accept money from out of state.

    Take care, all!

  7. John hit the nail right on the head. There are two other big hitters with a self-serving agenda at CAP. Make an educated guess on those two? “Looking to buy their way in to the public trough to ease regs on their respective industries” is your clue.

  8. To answer who is funding CAP, lok at the top of the Politicspa website. The guy who professes he is a coNservative voice for business is a large contributor. Of course mind you he too loves to play in local elections so his trash hauling business continues to gobble up local trash hauling contracts.

  9. CAP has done a good and necessary job challenging convention and Party complacency. Vance won because she’s good with her constituents. Argall won because he’s a likeable guy. But CAP helped push them around and create discomfort where it was needed. We need a lot more of that. Especially with a Party that believes in primary endorsements that reinforce Party corruption.

  10. I hope it is not lost on everyone that there are anonymous commenters asking for the names of other speakers. Ignore hypocrites.

  11. A very good question. I’ll bet a majority of their money comes from other special interest groups and super wealthy individuals who are trying to buy their way to the round table.

  12. So who finances CAP? Anybody here have an answer? I’d really like to know. Are the people in their website paid employees or volunteers?

  13. So go talk to him about it and see why he voted yea or nay. Maybe there is a good reason.

    These forums are sometimes good for obtaining information. But it’s too easy to paint a picture. Many times I just walk into their office and ask them about their votes.

    Try it.

  14. Two More Jerry Knowles’ Key Votes – one good and one bad

    Rep. Knowles, also, voted “NAY” for Union Pension Bailout Act 120 of 2010 a good vote for The Forgotten Taxpayer

    Rep. Knowles voted “YEA” to bailout Harrisburg’s Trash Bondholders a bad vote for Pennsylvania’s Forgotten Taxpayers and a very bad vote for Harrisburg’s badly abused Forgotten Taxpayers

  15. Which major corporations and lobbyists fund CAP? I can’t seem to find a list in their site.

    Follow the money. There seems to be a lot of it for a group that is relatively unknown to most Pennsylvanians. I’ve never heard of them and they seem to have spent a lot of dough on elections influencing many communities.

    Spending that much to influence elections across the state is suspect at best.

  16. Here is Rep. Knowles Vote on Act 130 of 2011.
    Rep. Knowles voted “YEA” to increase debt burden by $1.6 billion dollars.

    As you will see from the Governor’s Project List, this included $1.9 for Democrat Arlen Specter’s Philadelphia Library and $10,000,000 for John Murtha library

  17. What’s the matter? Why’d everyone stop bantering? I thought everyone was for free speech so long as the speaker is disclosed.
    Hypocrites much?

  18. We weren’t referring to you. Our PI is checking the other “anonymous” posts on this stream and others. So far we know they came from the same place.
    Say something.

  19. HDCC, I am not a public worker. I work at wal-mart as a greeter if you must know. I simply checked someone’s statement since I have so much time on my hands at my age. The information posted by the gentelman above was incorrect. I am not frightened of anyone for posting my opinions. Then again, at my age, who cares?

  20. Every PAC serves a purpose, so what is the big freaking deal about CAP serving theirs? Don’t like it-ignore them.

    Jerry thinks he should learn Leo that holding a Rep to account is personally insulting. Who does Leo think he is? Jerry is going to learn you Leo, lol.

  21. All this talk because public workers on Knowles and Argall’s staffs wasted their public computers and public time to attack CAP and the private citizens who run it. Which is ironic since they simultaneously espouse how ineffective CAP is.
    Frightened much?


    Joe Sterns is currently an employee of the federal government, he is a Toomey staffer. He was previously employed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a State Senate staffer. I missed the announcement where he declined to accept the state and federal pensions.
    His wife is a Solicitor for a Schuylkill County row office, which come with a stipend including a pension and full health care benefits. Still waiting for the pension and benefits opt out announcement.
    These people are all hypocrites, the next election they win will be the first. They spent hundreds of thousands of other peoples dollars running against Knowles and Argall and got hammered in both elections.

  23. Mr. Guzardi: you asked “How many of Governor Ed Rendell’s 8 Bankrupting Budgets did Rep. Knowles vote for? ”

    The Answer: NONE

    You also said, “And Act 130 of 2011 (RACP- Capital Budget) which added $1.6 billion to debt burden of Pennsylvania’s hammered taxpayers, a ‘yea’ vote, was it not?

    The Answer: KNOWLES VOTED “NO”

    I just checked because I wanted to see if what you said was true. Your information was totally inaccurate.

  24. Look, CAP in general serves a useful function. However, its usefulness, like everything else, has to be evaluated on a case by case basis. In Knowles’ case, it was made subservient to a sour grapes faction within the Schuylkill County GOP. I would be hard pressed to find a more conservative voting member of Harrisburg than Knowles. People like Vance deserved what they got from CAP; I don’t believe Knowles did.

  25. Hey Guzzardi! You go back to 1989 for that article? Try going back to 1990 while you’re at it. You might find that Knowles’ opponent was the driver in a fatal accident (reportedley DUI related). The family filed an intent to sue and it was settled out of court. It’s all on file at the court house! That was not used in the campaign because it happened so long ago. I’ll bet though, that I can go back just a few years and pull up some of those filthy contributions you made to liberals. Take me up on that?

  26. I think primary elections are healthy. Open primaries that is. If CAP got in the middle of what was an open primary then shame on them. From what I have been reading, it looks like the only person to the right of Knowles is Attila the Hun. Why all the money being spent against what appears to be a real fiscal watchdog? I don’t get it.

  27. Larry Knowles is a reliable vote for Sam Smith and Republican House Leadership.

    But hey, hacks have to eat, too, you know.

    CAP is so cold and heartless to think that a representative should represent The Forgotten Taxpayer, too. Not just the Tax Takers. Crazy CAP

    “Knowles’ change of political stripes shows that old-style politics still live in Schuylkill County, according to political observers. Fellow Democrats couldn’t find Knowles an acceptable job and the Republicans did.”

  28. They fear CAP. That’s why all the kvetching. As reported, they were very successful this primary despite the xenophobic comments above. Out are coming the defensive long knives. Methinks CAP has put a lot more time on the hands of a few PoliticsPA readers.

  29. Yo Guzzardi! All one needs to do to find out who voted for Rendell’s bills, budgets and bailouts is follow your money trail! Your filthy donations have long funded dirty, corrupt and liberal politics!

  30. Is this a joke? It appears CAP really stands for “CON ARTIST POLITICIANS”
    Is there proof of Joe Sterns particpating in the same pension system he rails on daily? This hypocrisy is huge! Simply stated, WOW! Open mouth, insert foot!

  31. Mrs. Fontana may have a point. Republicans shouldn’t have a primary against an incumbent. Only a Democrat would challenge an incumbent Republican, no self-respecting Republican would.

    I have an idea: next State Committee pass a resolution “No Incumbent Primaries”, it would save the taxpayers a fortune and elections? whose idea were they anyway?

    Of course, while we are talking of novel ideas, perhaps, the media would discuss Rep. Knowles less than taxpayer friendly record.

  32. How many of Governor Ed Rendell’s 8 Bankrupting Budgets did Rep. Knowles vote for?

    And Act 130 of 2011 (RACP- Capital Budget) which added $1.6 billion to debt burden of Pennsylvania’s hammered taxpayers, a ‘yea’ vote, was it not?

  33. These Citizens Alliance people and other groups like them do nothing but give libs fuel for the general elections. Any group that is willing to relinquish control of a legislative body to the democrats for the sake of making their point is far more dangerous than any moderate republican. Kudos to Knowles and others for having the guts to take these people on. I’m sick of their baloney and their “if you’re not 100% with us, you’re against us” crap. I don’t agree with my husband all the time. What should I do? Throw him out of the house?

  34. Gotta give CAP credit. The last guy who ran the place is in the state pension system and now probably in the federal system with his new job. But they attack others for this. I wonder if former Rep. Kennedy (their Chairman) takes a pension, took benefits, etc., too?

    They wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars and LOST basically everywhere they played because they tried to make it seem as if those who are true conservatives were not. The problem with special interest groups like CAP is they care about their power, not the issue they claim to. Then, when they spread their lies, people don’t believe them.

    In this case, they wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have been spent defeating real tax-and-spend politicians (the Dems who these Reps must now defeat in the Fall to hold majority.)

    I am glad they lost – and commend Knowles on having the strength to bring their hypocrisy to light.

  35. Is there any proof of the Joe Sterns or spouse being part of the lavish PA pension system or getting taxpayer funded health care? If so, it’s got to be quite embarrassing for Citizens Alliance. Wear padding on route to the woodshed!

  36. CAP is run by a bunch of hypocrites! Leo Knepper and CAP had no legitimate reason to go after Knowles. He was a democrat over 21 years ago… SO WHAT? Reagan was also a democrat who switched 16 years later became POTUS! Toomey staffer Joe Sterns, former head of CAP (who ironically enough is a vested member of the PA Pension System and whose wife also draws a public pension and health care) is the puppeteer of Knepper and CAP. He got CAP involved in the Knowles race simply because he doesn’t like him. You would be hard- pressed to find anyone who is to the right of Knowles. CAP’s days are numbered. They’ve become everything they purport to be against: “Big Money Buying Elections!” As for Knepper’s pathetic attempts at explaining himself as simply being aware of Knowles days as a county commissioner… BULL! Little Leo FAILED TO MENTION THAT THE CANDIDATE CAP SUPPORTED, LARRY PADORA, RAISED PROPERTY TAXES 84% JUST TWO YEARS AGO! I think one of those 200 piercings Leo has must have gotten infected! Knowles said before that he welcomed an OPEN primary… CAP’s intereference with $30,000 to $50,000 in mailers made that a moot point. By the way… How’d that work out for ya? I’m just sayin’…

  37. We are long overdue for an organization like CAP. They are terrific and all conservatives should support their efforts. The voters will support the RINO’s because they have inadequate information on how Harrisburg operates. CAP is the eyes and ears of the conservative movement.

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