Friday, April 25, 2008

Meuser vs. Hackett

The Meuser Vs. Hackett Primary Campaign has come to a close. The Department of State shows the final tally of 33,760 or 52.3% for Hackett and 30,777 or 47.7% for Meuser. Carney secured 70,824 votes and ran unopposed. The Democratic Primary for President probably drove turnout, but it is interesting to note that Carney received more votes than both men combined.

This was one of the most heated primary races NEPA has seen in quite some time. Even the 1998 Primary Election to succeed retiring Congressman Joe McDade didn’t get this interesting. Meuser stated that he was disappointed. Hackett is already focusing on the General Election. While not stated anywhere, Chris Carney is probably licking his chops.

The Republican Party had legitimate concerns that if this Primary went negative, there was potential that the candidates would damage each other so badly that they would not be able to secure victory over Carney. Time will tell if that happened. Certainly there are hurt feelings in both the Meuser and Hackett campaigns. Probably more so on Meuser’s side. The real test will be whether Chris Hackett has the ability to unite the Republican Party against Chris Carney or if the tactics used in the Primary on both sides will be the proverbial albatross around his neck that grants Carney re-election.

Absent Absentees

The Times Leader reports that Luzerne County will give up its mission to violate the Pennsylvania Preemption Clause of the Constitution and will not accept absentee ballots that were submitted beyond their deadline.

Previously, the Luzerne County Commissioners, acting as Board of Elections, decided to unilaterally change the election procedure set down by the Department of State to allow absentees to be counted that were clearly received outside of the window allowed by law.

Both a County Solicitor and the Department of State confirmed that they were in effect violating the Election Code by their actions.

Eachus Secures GOP Ballot Position

The Times Leader is reporting that Democrat State Representative Todd Eachus has received enough Republican write-ins to be placed on the ballot as both the Democratic and Republican nominee going into November’s Election.

What Happened to Bob Casey?

Grassroots PA is reporting that Planned Parenthood is thanking U. S. Senator Bob Casey for his support of lower priced birth control on college campuses. Casey is supposed to be pro-life. This is not the first time Casey has put aside his support of Life Issues for political gain. Casey also endorsed Barack Obama for President despite Obama’s strong pro-abortion stance. Casey Jr. does not seem to have the fortitude of his father.

Bob Casey Sr., former Governor of Pennsylvania and actual Pro-Lifer, refused to endorse then Candidate Bill Clinton for President because of his pro-abortion stance. Casey was then punished by the Democratic National Convention. So much so, Casey Sr., the sitting Governor of PA, was not allowed to address the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. Casey Sr. took his lumps and stood on principle. Casey Jr. is a sell out.

Shimkus Again Confirms He Will Use GOP

Frank Andrew Shimkus has once again confirmed that he will not change Political Parties despite possibly winning the Republican nomination during a write-in contest in the 113th. Shimkus had to run a write-in after he was removed from the ballot for a purposeful misrepresentation made in bad faith and with intent to deceive the electorate. Shimkus has said in advertising that it was essentially a minor paperwork error.

The 113th district is heavily democratic. As such, it should favor the actual Democrat on the ballot, Kevin Murphy. Mr. Shimkus used the GOP side of the isle as a vehicle to regain his seat and his dignity. The GOP should reject Shimkus and not be used as useful idiots again.

To the leaders of the Republican Party in Lackawanna County, this is what happens when you habitually give Democrats a free walk and never run any candidates.

More Tax Office Problems

The Scranton Times is reporting that the man behind the leak of tax records in Lackawanna County was none other than Democrat School Director Tom Gilbride. Tom also happens to be an attorney, so he should know better. In an Editorial, the Scranton Times raises further questions that are certainly worth reading.

Apparently, Tom Gilbride wanted to get information on former Tax Collector, now County Controller Ken McDowell’s possible misuse of the tax office while tax collector. To do this, the School Board President, Tom Gilbride, contacted Jim Williams, and asked him if he had any connections where he could come about this information. Jim Williams then contacted a friend of his, Kay McDonald, to contact Elizabeth Flaherty in the tax office. Ms. Flaherty provided the information to Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams then presented that information to Tom Gilbride. Mr. Williams also presented the information to Judy Gatelli, Democrat Scranton City Council Member. After providing the information to Gatelli and Gilbride, Mr. Williams presented it into the public record at a Scranton City Council Meeting. This essentially exposed the whole thing to the public.

At issue is a check register from the Tax Office. It contained three check stubs. Two were for taxpayers and bore their social security numbers. The third is a check made payable to the stadium club in the amount of $511.77 in which it is rumored that Ken McDowell used to pay for a bar bill from a retirement party.

The FBI was already investigating the tax office and might have found the information eventually. Mr. Williams presented the information to them and as such likely aided their investigation. Essentially, Mr. Williams asked for information from the tax office, was provided with that information, and was charged with a crime for exposing what I believe to be a crime.

This is wrong. Worse yet, District Attorney Jarbola demonstrated once again that there are two sets of laws in Lackawanna County. Mr. Gilbride, was the mastermind behind this whole fiasco. Mr. Gibride held secret meetings on street corners and in bars to organize collecting this information. Mr. Gilbride was found to also be in possession of this information. Mr. Gilbride, the Democrat School Director, was not charged with a crime. Only the poor souls that tried to expose the misuse of tax dollars in Lackawanna County were charged with anything. More insulting, is that the bar fly of a County Controller that possibly misused tax dollars, somehow misplaced $12,000,000, and had grievance after grievance filed against him by his union, is still walking the streets without a care in the world. I hope that the FBI is able to fix the mess that the local District Attorney seems incapable or unwilling to correct himself.

House Democrats on Energy

I received a media advisory from Congressman Kanjorski’s office. It stated that on Monday, April 28, he will be holding a press conference at a local gas station to discuss rising gas prices. It will be held at the Sunoco Gas Station located at 531 S Main Street in Wilkes-Barre at 11:00 a.m.

It is about time someone start talking about gas prices. When the Democrats took control of congress in 2006, they pledged to lower energy costs. Gas is about $1 more per gallon that it was when the Republicans had control of Congress.

Recently, The Republican Leadership called out the Democrats on exactly this. The Republicans rightfully stated that Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats said they had a plan to lower energy costs. They repeatedly talked about this plan during the 2006 election. The problem is, they have not produced this supposed plan. Republicans Leaders stated that they wished to begin discussing and debating this plan and asked for a copy. Speaker Pelosi has yet to acquiesce. Perhaps Congressman Kanjorski can shed some light on this 2 year old plan that has yet to be disclosed to the full house or the American public.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hackett Pro-Choice? Update

The Times Leader the Scranton Times Tribune and the Citizen's Voice all had stories about Chris Hackett’s abortion flap. They carried them under headlines like “Hackett Defends Abortion Stance” “Hackett’s Anti-Abortion Stance Questioned” and “Businessmen Question Hackett’s Abortion Stance.”

I first discussed it here.

Basically, it is admitted that Chris Hackett me with these Local Republican businessmen to discuss his candidacy. Hackett’s response has been to question the motives of the individuals involved and in some cases, all but call them liars. In response to the accusations, these men have responded.

One interesting point that was revealed in the Times Leader was that Hackett tried to hire one of the men in the campaign, Jack Sordoni. Jack refused. In addition to that disclosure, Mr. Sordoni also gave a quote he attributed to Hackett in the meeting. It was “I am more pro-choice than Pro-Life in the meeting” according to Mr. Sordoni.

Hackett’s rebuttal seems to revolve around the idea that these men are “heavily invested” in Meuser’s campaign. Apparently, he feels they would lie to cover their investment of a few thousand dollars in Meuser.

Former State Representative Jerry Birmelin has come forward to Chris Hackett’s defense. Birmelin is quoted as saying “I know this issue better than anyone and Chris’ understanding of the issue and commitment to the value of human life from conception to natural death has been demonstrated to me over and over again.”

Speaking of being heavily invested, if you do a campaign finance search you will find thousands and thousands of dollars paid to Birmelin Consulting, Waymart.

I don’t begrudge anyone for making a paycheck. It is after all the American way. And, quite frankly, I wish more people were involved in politics in any capacity, paid or otherwise. What I do have a problem with is attacking people that really have nothing to gain and using a well paid staffer to use his former position to defend you at the same time. If Mr. Hackett wants to argue protecting investments, fine…but don’t use a highly paid staffer to do it. It is crass at best.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hackett Pro-Choice?

According to Pete DeCoursey of Capitalwire.com, Chris Hackett was Pro-Choice before deciding to run for Congress.

DeCoursey's article details a May 2007 meeting with at least four local power brokers in NEPA. At the meeting, Hackett stated that he was Pro-Choice several times and stated that he didn't believe that it would be an issue. Apparently, he changed his position after the meeting.

In the Capitalwire.com story, Hackett Campaign spokesman Mark Harris confirmed that the meeting did in fact happen, stating "They definitely met, but he never said he was pro-life." Contrary to what Harris said, Hackett was just on Sue Henry's WILK radio show and denied meeting with the four men involved at the same time.

Pro-Lifers are always happy about conversions to their viewpoint. I am sure that Pro-Lifers everywhere would welcome Mr. Hackett to the fold. In my mind, the issue is not if Mr. Hackett is now Pro-Life but rather his denial. If this is true, Hackett would have been far better served by talking about his conversion. It would have been a very uplifting and reaffirming to Pro-Lifers.

In closing, someone is lying. It is either Hackett or the four sources of the story.

Truthfulness in the campaign has arisen before. You can find coverage of it in the Daily & Sunday Review. This article details how Hackett misrepresented his role in bringing businesses to the area. This was so disconcerting to Robert Jones, CFO of 3CI, that he complained to the paper in a letter.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Republicans Attempt Tax Cut

Republicans in the PA House are calling for tax cuts. According to Public Opinion Online, there will be a 500 Million dollar surplus after the state ends its fiscal year on June 30. Democrats apparently want to hold onto that money. Republicans want to give it back to the taxpayers. The Republicans propose to:

Cut the Personal Income Tax from 3.07% to 2.93%
Cut the Gross Receipts Tax from 5.9% to 2.95%
Pass a comprehensive business tax cut plan

Democrat Governor Ed Rendell’s spokesman said that he thought these tax cuts would offer “no immediate benefit” to taxpayers. A House Democrat Appropriations spokesman called the tax cut plan “irresponsible.”

The House Republicans stand by their plan to return the surplus to the taxpayers.

All members of the House of Representatives are up for Election or Re-Election in 2008.

Enough is Enough!

The Times Leader is reporting that Sam Guesto, former Luzerne County Chief Clerk/Manager, ordered items that were previously put out to bid for the prison to not be put out to bid. Instead, Guesto steered the business toward Commonwealth Foods Inc. Guesto apparently not only ordered the items to not be put out to bid but also threatened the kitchen manager of the prison with the words “…do it or it’s your ass,” according to the same article. I mentioned this in a previous post.

It is reported that Guesto was also the best man in the wedding of Steve Harnischfeger, owner of Commonwealth Foods Inc.

The Democrats running Luzerne County seem to be breeding corruption or at least the perception of it. During the debit card debacle, Sam Guesto submitted his resignation to take effect February 15th. According to the Citizen’s Voice, Commissoner Skrepenak never wavered from his support of Guesto calling him an “integral part” of Luzerne County’s success. The taxpayers of Luzerne County must be questioning when these near endless scandals will finally come to close. My guess is that day will not come until there is a change in who runs Luzerne County Government.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Luzerne County Problems...Again!

The Times Leader is reporting that political signs are being used to cover a publicly funded bench advertisement in Pittston. The political sign is one of Democrat State Representative Mike Carroll’s. Carroll claims that he paid for the sign and had no idea the vendor had already sold the space to Luzerne County.

When reached for comment via email, the owner of the sign company stated that there was damage to the Luzerne County sign that was a safety hazard. Instead of repairing the sign, the vendor apparently re-sold it to a political candidate.

When you dig a little deeper, we find yet another Luzerne County contract in question. “The county locked in two five-year agreements with the company on September 2006. The contracts total $200,525 – $159,400 for the Pittston billboard and $41,125 for four advertisements on benches.
That goes against the county’s purchasing policy approved in 2004 that says the county must bid out purchases of more than $7,500. State law requires bidding for purchases that exceed $10,000”

Competitive bidding is a must. The story goes on to point out a very clear reason why. “The downtown Pittston billboard costs the county up to $2,800 per month in addition to a $2,600 annual production charge. In comparison, Lamar Advertising rents the same-sized billboard along busier major highways in the area for about $2,400 per month, according to company publications.”

WOW!

That is all you can say. Every time I sat down to write something on this race for PA-10, something new broke. I will try and sum it all up. But first, a bit of humor on youtube.

Ignorance is Bliss has an interesting bit on Hackett on the blog. It deals with Hackett’s donations to Democrats. I think it is appropriate since we just received a piece of mail slamming Meuser for making contributions. I searched the FEC website and cannot find a contribution from Meuser to Clinton (which is something that Hackett alleges in his ad.) I am not even going to bother to search for Pride Mobility Inc since (as Clinton pointed out against Obama) companies cannot legally contribute to a political candidate and have not been able to do so for the better part of 100 years. Hackett needs to check his facts before he runs ads like this. He is likely counting on most people being too uninvolved to actually check what a candidate says.

The TL reported that after Hackett spent two week attacking Meuser on illegal immigration, he had one in his own home. He said on Sue Henry's show that he paid her by check. He has also said that he doesn’t know her last name but her first name is “Susie.” Apparently, Hackett cannot or will not look at the checks he wrote to see what her last name was. He said also said that he never reported her wages to the government and upon learning that she was an illegal, did not turn her in to the authorities even though they encourage you to do exactly that. More troubling, the Citizen's Voice also reports that Hackett had calls from police about likely illegal employees at his business. Basically, this “Susie” was cleaning his kitchen while he was drafting ads against Meuser having illegals in his business 13 years ago. Sorry, but if that isn’t hypocrisy, I don’t know what is. Zen sums it up pretty well on the blog.

Before this took a turn to the negative, the NE Caucus of Republican State Committee asked both Meuser and Hackett to sign a pledge to run a positive campaign. Hackett had previously said that he was looking forward to a positive campaign. Turns out, Meuser signed the pledge and Hackett refused. The Times Tribune ran a story on it. The next day, Hackett went negative. Either Meuser has a pretty excellent crystal ball or polling is showing that Hackett is down. Barring retaliatory strikes, the front runner doesn’t typically attack the guy in the number two spot. My guess is that Hackett’s polling had him behind and he saw running negatives on Meuser as a way to pick that up. Either way, I don’t think anyone can fault Meuser for defending himself from these Hackett attacks.

Hackett was also accused in the Daily Review of lying about his role in brining jobs to NEPA. Obviously jobs are very important to the voters in PA-10. If you did actually bring employers into the district you would be a fool not to mention it. You would also be a fool to say you did if you didn’t while you were a candidate for public office. Fact checkers spend their time going over this stuff trying to catch people doing this. Hackett apparently got caught red handed.

Meuser picked up more endorsements. Meuser is now officially supported by the Northumberland GOP and the Lackawanna GOP. Meuser also picked up the Endorsement of David Keene, President of the American Conservative Union and Second Vice-President of the National Rifle Association. According to several radio ads, Meuser also got the endorsement of Rev. Charles Gomer, Joe Peters, Dan Naylor, Former Farm Bureau President Keith Eckel, and Jack Sordoni.

Hackett still has not been able to sew up a committee for support. Hackett picked an endorsement from CAGWPAC, an anti-earmark/pro-reduced spending group from DC.

In the last debate, the Citizen's Voice reported that Hackett is in favor of privatizing social security. Meuser is against privatization but wanted to allow for tax free retirement savings instead. The Daily Review also reports that Hackett is against LIHEAP funding because it is “really wrong.” This stuff might sell in the Primary, but Hackett risks scaring the seniors out of his camp in the General Election. Telling Seniors that you want to take away their heating/energy assistance is scary enough. Democrats will use the Social Security privatization like they did against Lou Barletta when he ran against Paul Kanjorski the last time.

Speaking of Paul Kanjorski, I received an email from his press secretary Congressional Quarterly lauded Paul Kanjorski for his efforts to provide stability in the student load marketplace. From the other press releases and speaking engagements from Kanjorski I would say Paul is planning on running a serious campaign.

I welcome releases from all candidates and public officials.