BY JOE SHAHEELI/ Our congratulations to Attorney General Kathleen Kane for showing the mettle it takes to make tough decisions. She closed out an Abscam-type investigation that began three Attorneys General before her.
The investigation was a farce. It was set up by a wire-wearer who was slated for a big-time sentence and armed with small-time financial â€œbirthdayâ€ presents, for the most part. In the end, his conviction was blown away and he is scot-free.
But now what is left are the scarred reputations of four highly regarded State Representatives, a former judge of Traffic Court and the Attorney General herself. If she werenâ€™t a public official, she could easily sue. In any event, she should explore the possibility.
What is sad is the Philadelphia Inquirer, whose circulation keeps slipping, ballyhooed her decision in type so big it looked like a war has been declared. It read, â€œKane Shut Down Sting That Snared City Pols.â€
The Inky report turned what was an important, responsible decision into a smear of the Attorney General as well, inferring she blew off the sting because caught in it were fellow Democrats, with all of whom she had a political relationship.
That newspaper dissed the fact the poor handling of the sting by the Attorneys General who preceded her was the prime reason the FBI had refused to pick up the case. It was her reasoning as well. It definitely was a case of entrapment, as was a similar operation in Abscam sting of 1978-80. That type of investigation considered illegal.
It appears the story was fed to the Inquirer by Frank Fina, a former top deputy to Tom Corbett when he was Attorney General.
Kathleen Kane, according to other reports, was investigating Finaâ€™s allegedly botched handling of the Sandusky case. The question asked is, â€œWas Fina trying to muddy up Kane ahead of the release of the Sandusky report?â€
And Kane does go after Democrats. She stated, â€œMy record speaks for itself that prosecutions have no political agenda. Of the 11 public corruption cases we have brought so far, the majority involve Democrats. I will not sit back and allow lies from those who seek to destroy the publicâ€™s trust in me or my office.â€
The Inky article could not reveal on any link between gifts and votes. Those Democratic leaders set up by the scam, at the most, might be saddled with a misdemeanor. There is no legal limit on gifts to politicians from lobbyists. They just need to be reported. In this case, no quid pro quo was involved.
Shame on the Inky for taking the bait, without first smelling out its source.
GOOD MAN, JOHN KANE
John Kane, a resident of Ridley Township in Delaware Co. and the business manager of the Local Plumbers 690, wonâ€™t back down on an endorsement or return a campaign contribution from Ironworkers Local 401. Some of its members have been charged by FBI with crimes ranging from assault to arson after an FBI investigation.
Kane, who is on the ballot in the 26th State Senate Dist., is proud of the support he has from â€œbrothers and sisters in the labor movement.â€ He is running as a Democrat to replace retiring Republican State Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Delaware). The GOP will be fielding Tom McGarrigle, chairman of the Delaware Co. Council.
State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Northeast), who is running for Congress in the seat being vacated by Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-Northeast), is also keeping the contributions he received from Local 401.
Neither condones the actions of the 401 members.
BABETTE COUNTS SIMSâ€™ ABSENCES
Just back home after vacationing with family on the West Coast, former State Rep. Babette Josephs has blasted back at State Rep. Brian Simsâ€™ (D-S. Philadelphia) charges heâ€™s served more constituents than she used to, by whacking his voting record. She noted he did not vote on the following bills:
HB 290, Amendments to the bill legalizing small games of chance;
HB 1424, Holocaust & Genocide education mandate for public schools;
HR 41, Resolution legitimatizing a â€œNational Day of Prayerâ€;
SB.579, Authorizing funding for the state police;
HB 316, Increased appropriation for rape and domestic-violence services;
HB 1468, Temple University appropriation;
HB 790, State store/liquor privatization;
SB 591, A $45 million grant to Philadelphia public education.
She said, â€œThere is no issue more important to our city than providing its youth with quality public education. A city that does not fund its public schools has no future.â€
She noted on Jun. 15, 2013, SB 591, a highly controversial proposal was before the House. It contained a $45 million grant for Philadelphiaâ€™s public schools. Sims was absent from Harrisburg on that day.
She states, â€œThe primary job of a State Representative is to show up and vote, adding, â€œNo one expects a freshman, especially in the minority, to push through any legislation. However, everyone expects that freshmen and veterans cast votes.â€
This week, 8th Dist. Councilwoman Cindy Bass endorsed Simsâ€™ reelection bid. The Councilwoman said, â€œRep. Simsâ€™ work on womenâ€™s rights, reproductive rights, and LGBT civil rights are a refreshing change from the legislation and rhetoric that we constantly hear from Harrisburg. We need more people like Brian Sims in the Legislature to protect women, children, and other vulnerable groups from the dangerous policies of conservatives.â€
Call it a plus for Marjorie Margolies, candidate for the 13th Congressional Dist. Her decision to support State Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-Northwest) in the 4th State Senatorial Dist. shows she stands beside her friends and that will definitely get her votes.
â€œLeAnna and I have known each other for 20 years and I have been proud to call her a friend during this time,â€ said Margolies, noting Washington was the first elected official to endorse her candidacy. â€œI intend to support my friend through these difficult times.â€
She has commented, â€œSen. Washingtonâ€™s lifeâ€™s work has been to give voice to those who need it most. Her advocacy for victims of domestic abuse and at-risk children has set the standard for those who seek to serve in public office.â€
Former President Bill Clinton will attend an evening gala for Margolies, hosted by Montco Commissioner Josh Shapiro and event chair Darren Clark at the Prime Rib located in the Warwick Hotel at 17th & Locust. Look for traffic jams brought about by his Secret Service entourage.
Also running for the Democratic nomination in PA-13 are physician and activist Val Arkoosh, State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) and State Rep. Brendan Boyle.
State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Northeast) has been campaigning around the state to become the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Despite that effort, he continues to work for his Northeast district as well as the city of Philadelphia. It shows in the stats so far. He filed 10,000 names on his nominating petitions, and the number of his Facebook friends has climbed to almost 6,000. With over seven years as captain in the Pennsylvania National Guard, he is the only candidate in the race to serve in the Armed Forces.
Add to the fact, with four terms and 13 years in the Pennsylvania Senate, and five years working in Gov. Bob Caseyâ€™s administration, the Senator has vastly more experience in state government than any of the other contenders for Lieutenant Governor.
BOYLES KEEP ON PUMPING
State Reps. Brendan Boyle and Kevin Boyle submitted their nominating petitions, handing in over 6,300 signatures, with Brendan submitting more than four times what is required to get on the ballot for Congress.
Brendan Boyle is the State Representative for the 170th Legislative Dist. in Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery Co. He was elected in 2008 and is currently serving his third term in office.
For the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, a majority of the Democrats running for the Pennsylvania House this year against Republicans will be women according to the House Democratic Campaign Committee. It announced on Thursday that 28 Democratic women will be running in Republican-held House seats in 2014.
â€œWe are setting out to change the face of the Legislature in 2014,â€ said PA HDCC Chair State Rep. Tim Briggs (D-Montgomery). â€œI wanted to recruit better candidates this cycle but I also wanted to focus on recruiting strong women in our most viable seats to address the lack of equal representation in the House. We were more successful than I ever expected and I look forward to making gains towards a Democratic majority.â€
Briggs said he sees great opportunity for the Democratic challengers running for the House this year with poll after poll showing voters rejecting the policies of Gov. Corbett and the House GOP.
Pennsylvania has consistently ranked as one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to the proportion of women in the state legislature, with a mere 17.8% currently occupying seats.
Progressive champion and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has endorsed Billy Smith for State Representative in Pennsylvaniaâ€™s 164th Dist. over incumbent Margo Davidson (D-Delaware).
â€œWe need true progressives in the Pennsylvania legislature who will stand up and be champions for whatâ€™s right,â€ said the DA. â€œI had the privilege of supervising Mr. Smith when he was a prosecutor in Philadelphia and I know he will take that commitment to excellence and justice to Harrisburg as he fights for Delaware Co.â€
Williamsâ€™ endorsement of Smith follows the endorsement by State Rep. Brian Sims.
SCHWARTZ WON PETITION NUMBERS
In the Governorâ€™s race, the big winner in petition numbers was Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz who thumped the Democratic competition. Gov. Tom Corbett beat her by a few thousand, but that was mostly to be expected given that he has just one long-shot challenger, Mike Guzzardi.
Candidates for Governor were required to accumulate at least 2,000 signatures, with 100 coming from each of 10 different counties.
They are ranked here in quantity of signatures, before any challenges that may knock those numbers down.
Corbett tallied a whopping 27,747 signatures and received more than 100 signatures from 50 different Pennsylvania counties, and he made sure to get at least one signature from every county in the state.
Schwartz amassed 22,000 signatures, and unlike Corbett, she was competing against six other Democrats to get them. According to her campaign, her filing represents 34 counties.
State Treasurer Rob McCord put together 12,500 signatures from 61 different counties, according to an estimate from his campaign.
Former Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf was catapulted to frontrunner status after a television ad blitz yielded major leads in three polls and his petition signature filing shows he filed 12,000 signatures from 50 counties, just short of McCordâ€™s 12,500.
The latest entrant to the Governorâ€™s race, former Auditor General Jack Wagner, came in around 4,700 signatures from 27 counties. Itâ€™s a challengeable petition. Same for Katie McGinty, who filed 5,272 signatures with 100 or more signatures from 14 different counties.
The Pennsylvania College Democrats are holding their annual Convention in Philadelphia, at Temple University. This convention features a gubernatorial debate at 7:00 p.m. on Mar. 28, in Room 200BC of the Howard Gittis Student Center on Temple Universityâ€™s Main Campus.
Confirmed to attend the debate are Schwartz, Rob McCord, McGinty, Wolf and Wagner. The debate will be moderated by Dr. G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics & Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College. Over 400 people are expected to attend the debate, including students from across the state.
The weekend convention will feature a full day of workshops on Saturday including guest speakers former Gov. Ed Rendell, State Sen. Anthony Williams, State Reps. Brian Sims and Dan McNeill (D-Lehigh), and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.