Sestak Embroiled in Yet Another Earmark Scandal Sestak Secures Forbidden Earmark for For-Profit Company in Violation of House Rules

Allentown – As news of Congressman Joe Sestak’s latest earmark scandal hit the Allentown Morning Call on Saturday, U.S. Senate candidate Pat Toomey called on Congressman Sestak to come forward and answer the many questions surrounding his latest scandal.
Only a month after news of Congressman Sestak’s violation of his own earmark-related ethics pledge, the Allentown Morning Call discovered that Sestak is violating House rules by requesting an earmark for a for-profit organization while surreptitiously trying to funnel it through a non-profit group.
According to the Morning Call, Congressman Sestak requested a $350,000 earmark for a small, non-profit atheist group called the Thomas Paine Foundation for the stated purpose of developing a prototype Vertical Axis Wind Turbine project.
The Thomas Paine Foundation is a Philadelphia-area group dedicated to sponsoring “activities, events and speakers to educate the public about the non-theist life stance,” not exactly the likely recipient for a $350,000 energy earmark.  The address for the Foundation was a home address listed in Media, PA even though the earmark description on Congressman Sestak’s website said the money would be spent in Aston, PA.
The Morning Call discovered that the Sestak earmark was never truly intended for the Thomas Paine Foundation, but for a for-profit company in Aston, PA called New Way Air Bearings, founded by a man named Drew Devitt.  Mr. Devitt was the sole officer listed for the Thomas Paine Foundation on the group’s last IRS filing in 2004.  Since House rules prohibited earmarks for for-profit companies in 2010, the Thomas Paine Foundation was used to funnel the money to the for-profit New Way Air Bearings.
Mr. Devitt admitted as much to the Morning Call, saying “One of the things Obama did for 2010 was to eliminate for-profit filing for line items, so obviously New Way wasn’t qualified.  But Thomas Paine wasn’t for-profit, so it was eligible to file for a line item.”
Congressman Sestak now joins many of his Washington colleagues who have adopted the shady practice of using sham non-profits to circumvent House rules as documented recently in the New York Times (New York Times, 07/04/10).  This practice was decried by Steve Ellis of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense: “Lawmakers not knowing is not a good enough answer.   They are saying these earmarks are worth spending taxpayer dollars … they should know soup-to-nuts everything about these earmarks.”
This raises several critical questions for Congressman Sestak.  The people of Pennsylvania deserve to know the truth.
1) Why is Congressman Sestak steering hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to an atheist group with no history of working on wind turbines to develop a vertical axis wind turbine project?
2) Why is Congressman Sestak circumventing House rules banning earmarks for for-profit corporations?
3) Does Congressman Sestak research earmark requests coming into his office or does he happily dole out hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to anyone who asks?
4) How is it possible that a $350,000 wind turbine earmark for a small atheist group that does no work on wind turbines and hasn’t filed with the IRS in six years didn’t raise suspicions for Congressman Sestak?
5) Does Congressman Sestak think Congressional rules banning for-profit earmarks should apply to everyone but himself?
6) Why did Congressman Sestak think this project was worth spending tax dollars on when Senators Casey and Specter refused to request funding for this earmark?
7) When will Congressman Sestak return the $119,000 he took in violation of his own ethics pledge to return contributions from people he requests earmarks for?
This is not the first time Congressman Sestak has been embroiled in an earmark scandal.  A month ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer discovered Sestak had accepted over $119,000 in violation of his own ethics pledge listed on his campaign website.  According to his website, Sestak pledged to return contributions from people who requested earmarks from his congressional office.  But instead of returning the contributions discovered by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Congressman Sestak offered a series of excuses and hollow denials, prompting the Philadelphia Daily News to call Sestak’s ethics pledge “a vague disingenuous attempt to polish his own credentials.”
Toomey Communications Director Nachama Soloveichik commented: “It’s bad enough that Joe Sestak repeatedly wastes Pennsylvanians’ tax dollars on outrageous earmarks like a Mule and Packers Museum in California.  It got worse when Sestak trotted out a phony ethics pledge against taking campaign contributions from people he funneled earmarks to, only to flunk his own ethics test.  Now, Sestak is violating House rules by using a non-profit as cover for doling out tax dollars to his pet project.  Joe Sestak and the Washington wasteful earmark game are so out of control that you can’t make this stuff up.  It would almost be funny if it wasn’t such a tragic waste of tax dollars.  Congressman Sestak, please tell Pennsylvanians why it’s okay to break House rules to fund a wind turbine project for an atheist group with our tax dollars.”

Allentown – As news of Congressman Joe Sestak’s latest earmark scandal hit the Allentown Morning Call on Saturday, U.S. Senate candidate Pat Toomey called on Congressman Sestak to come forward and answer the many questions surrounding his latest scandal. Only a month after news of Congressman Sestak’s violation of his own earmark-related ethics pledge, the Allentown Morning Call discovered that Sestak is violating House rules by requesting an earmark for a for-profit organization while surreptitiously trying to funnel it through a non-profit group. According to the Morning Call, Congressman Sestak requested a $350,000 earmark for a small, non-profit atheist group called the Thomas Paine Foundation for the stated purpose of developing a prototype Vertical Axis Wind Turbine project. The Thomas Paine Foundation is a Philadelphia-area group dedicated to sponsoring “activities, events and speakers to educate the public about the non-theist life stance,” not exactly the likely recipient for a $350,000 energy earmark.  The address for the Foundation was a home address listed in Media, PA even though the earmark description on Congressman Sestak’s website said the money would be spent in Aston, PA. The Morning Call discovered that the Sestak earmark was never truly intended for the Thomas Paine Foundation, but for a for-profit company in Aston, PA called New Way Air Bearings, founded by a man named Drew Devitt.  Mr. Devitt was the sole officer listed for the Thomas Paine Foundation on the group’s last IRS filing in 2004.  Since House rules prohibited earmarks for for-profit companies in 2010, the Thomas Paine Foundation was used to funnel the money to the for-profit New Way Air Bearings. Mr. Devitt admitted as much to the Morning Call, saying “One of the things Obama did for 2010 was to eliminate for-profit filing for line items, so obviously New Way wasn’t qualified.  But Thomas Paine wasn’t for-profit, so it was eligible to file for a line item.” Congressman Sestak now joins many of his Washington colleagues who have adopted the shady practice of using sham non-profits to circumvent House rules as documented recently in the New York Times (New York Times, 07/04/10).  This practice was decried by Steve Ellis of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense: “Lawmakers not knowing is not a good enough answer.   They are saying these earmarks are worth spending taxpayer dollars … they should know soup-to-nuts everything about these earmarks.” This raises several critical questions for Congressman Sestak.  The people of Pennsylvania deserve to know the truth. 1) Why is Congressman Sestak steering hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to an atheist group with no history of working on wind turbines to develop a vertical axis wind turbine project? 2) Why is Congressman Sestak circumventing House rules banning earmarks for for-profit corporations? 3) Does Congressman Sestak research earmark requests coming into his office or does he happily dole out hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to anyone who asks? 4) How is it possible that a $350,000 wind turbine earmark for a small atheist group that does no work on wind turbines and hasn’t filed with the IRS in six years didn’t raise suspicions for Congressman Sestak? 5) Does Congressman Sestak think Congressional rules banning for-profit earmarks should apply to everyone but himself? 6) Why did Congressman Sestak think this project was worth spending tax dollars on when Senators Casey and Specter refused to request funding for this earmark? 7) When will Congressman Sestak return the $119,000 he took in violation of his own ethics pledge to return contributions from people he requests earmarks for? This is not the first time Congressman Sestak has been embroiled in an earmark scandal.  A month ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer discovered Sestak had accepted over $119,000 in violation of his own ethics pledge listed on his campaign website.  According to his website, Sestak pledged to return contributions from people who requested earmarks from his congressional office.  But instead of returning the contributions discovered by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Congressman Sestak offered a series of excuses and hollow denials, prompting the Philadelphia Daily News to call Sestak’s ethics pledge “a vague disingenuous attempt to polish his own credentials.” Toomey Communications Director Nachama Soloveichik commented: “It’s bad enough that Joe Sestak repeatedly wastes Pennsylvanians’ tax dollars on outrageous earmarks like a Mule and Packers Museum in California.  It got worse when Sestak trotted out a phony ethics pledge against taking campaign contributions from people he funneled earmarks to, only to flunk his own ethics test.  Now, Sestak is violating House rules by using a non-profit as cover for doling out tax dollars to his pet project.  Joe Sestak and the Washington wasteful earmark game are so out of control that you can’t make this stuff up.  It would almost be funny if it wasn’t such a tragic waste of tax dollars.  Congressman Sestak, please tell Pennsylvanians why it’s okay to break House rules to fund a wind turbine project for an atheist group with our tax dollars.”

August 30th, 2010 | Posted in Front Page Stories | No Comments