Sestak Earmark Scandal Gets Dirtier: Was Lobbyist with Track Record of Securing Forbidden Earmarks Involved?

Allentown – As Congressman Sestak refuses to answer questions about securing a forbidden earmark for a for-profit company, his earmark scandal gets even dirtier with new evidence coming to light about the earmark’s connection to a lobbyist with a history of securing forbidden earmarks.

According to the Allentown Morning Call, the forbidden earmark in question was requested by a man named Drew Devitt, founder of New Way Air Bearings and New Way Energy LLC, both located at the same address in Aston, PA.  The forbidden earmark was requested for an atheist group named the Thomas Paine Foundation, but was really intended for New Way Energy with the stated purpose of building a wind turbine demonstration project and purchasing components manufactured by New Way Air Bearings.  The Thomas Paine Foundation was used to circumvent new Congressional rules against earmarks for for-profit companies.

It turns out, in 2009, Devitt’s New Way Air Bearings had hired a former staffer for the late Congressman John Murth, lobbyist Scott Harshman, a man cited in the New York Times for helping companies find ways to bypass a Congressional ban on earmarks.  According to the New York Times, Harshman helped the Pennsylvania-based for-profit Nokomis secure a forbidden earmark this year by funneling the money through a university.

The more Congressman Sestak refuses to accept responsibility for his latest earmark scandal, the more questions mount:

1) Was lobbyist Scott Harshman involved in requesting the forbidden earmark for a wind turbine project using an atheist non-profit to funnel the money?

2) Congressman Sestak says he was misled about the nature of the earmark, but the earmark recipient, Drew Devitt, told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review “I don’t believe I misled them.”  Who is telling the truth?

3) Congressman Sestak told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review he did the “appropriate due diligence” but what exactly did that “due diligence” entail?  How could “appropriate due diligence” have missed something that is so obviously against House rules?

4) Does Congressman Sestak do any research on earmark requests or does he simply throw taxpayer dollars at earmark requests regardless of House rules and the project’s worthiness?

5) Why did Congressman Sestak think this earmark project was worthy of spending taxpayer dollars on when Senators Casey and Specter rejected it?

Finally:

6) Will Congressman Sestak release the documents surrounding the Thomas Paine Foundation’s earmark request, including the request submitted by Drew Devitt and the request Congressman Sestak submitted to the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee?  Such disclosure might shed light on who is telling the truth.

“Congressman Sestak talks about accountability and reform nonstop,” Toomey Communications Director Nachama Soloveichik said, “but where’s the accountability now?  It is time Congressman Sestak to come forward, explain exactly what he knew about the forbidden earmark request and why he treats taxpayer dollars so cavalierly?”

September 2nd, 2010 | Posted in Front Page Stories | No Comments