ELEPHANT CORNER on the Pa. Society

Filed under: Columns,Featured News,Pennsylvania Society,Politics |

KRIS TOOMEY, daughter Bridget and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, fresh from voting in D.C. on the tax-cut bill.

The 119th annual Pennsylvania Society Dinner was held last weekend at the New York Hilton in New York City. For decades, this event was held at the Waldorf Astoria; however, that hotel is undergoing extensive renovations. The event sold out despite its $500-per-person sticker price. Since the dinner’s new venue is smaller than the Waldorf, the event had only 800 people, unlike the Waldorf ballroom, which held 1,200.

At the dinner, the society gave its annual gold medal award to the Sheetz family. Sheetzes own a large chain of gas stations and convenience stores throughout Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

The Pennsylvania Society is a nonprofit, charitable organization with over 2,000 members. It is not affiliated with any political party. Its purpose is to honor achievement, to reward excellence and to celebrate service to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

There have been a number of changes in the Pennsylvania Society’s management. ROGER RICHARDS became the 44th president of the Society. He replaced NICK DeBENEDICTIS, Republican activist and former CEO of Aqua America. Richards is the founder and president of Richards & Associates, P.C., a firm, which specializes in corporate and municipal finance and commercial banking.

Publicist JULIEN SCRANTON has succeeded longtime EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CAROL FITZGERALD. Scranton is the granddaughter of GOV. WILLIAM SCRANTON and daughter of LT. GOV. WILLIAM SCRANTON. No, the Scrantons did not take their name from the Northeast Pennsylvania city, but rather the city gets its name from the coal and steel business founded by Julien’s ancestors.

For the GOP crowd, the weekend started Thursday night at Republican National COMMITTEEWOMAN CHRISTINE TORETTI’S party at Club Macanudo. The event is almost impossible to obtain an invitation to. The event was packed, but this year one could actually get through the crowd without stepping on someone as in the past. Many of the attendees from this event wandered over to Connolly’s Pub for a party sponsored by the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus Committee.

Friday, the Commonwealth Club hosted its annual luncheon at the Rainbow Room. This is a fundraising group for the Pennsylvania Republican Party.

The scheduled keynote speaker was VP MIKE PENCE. Owing to the Senate debate and vote on the new tax bill last weekend, Pence could not make the event. PAGOP pulled a rabbit out of the hat by finding a high-profile speaker at the last minute: RONA ROMNEY MCDANIEL, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. McDaniel is the niece of former Massachusetts governor and 2012 presidential candidate MITT ROMNEY.

Following the luncheon, there was an event at 40/40 Club for State Senate MAJORITY LEADER JAKE CORMAN. After Corman’s event, there was a reception at the New York offices of Washington, D.C.-based law firm Arent Fox. The host of the party was former CONGRESSMAN PHIL ENGLISH. English heads Arent Fox’s government-affairs department. In the past, the event honored the Pennsylvania legislative delegation to Washington. However, as members of the House of Representatives and Senate were in D.C. to work on the tax-reform bill, English decided to honor Roger Richards, the new president of the Pennsylvania Society, who lives in English’s former district.

Gubernatorial hopeful Republican STATE SEN. SCOTT WAGNER held a reception at the New York Hilton. On the floor below, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE MIKE TURZAI, a recent entrant to the gubernatorial race, held an event at the same time. Many attendees of these events wandered over to Blank Rome’s annual reception at the East Side Marriott. The Blank Rome event is nonpartisan and invitations are hard to come by.

Saturday began for a number of Republicans at the University of Pennsylvania’s breakfast at the Penn Club. Many attendees wandered uptown for the PMA’s annual policy briefing and luncheon at the Metropolitan Club. The PMA speaker list usually includes Keystone State senators and the governor. However, this year, U.S. SENS. PAT TOOMEY and BOB CASEY were in Washington.

This year, PMA CHAIRMAN FRED ANTON, the host and master of ceremonies in the past, was with us as he passed away recently.

Republican gubernatorial hopeful PAUL MANGO had a lunchtime reception at the Starlight Room. Mango is a former consultant with McKinsey. Many his attendees strolled around the corner to Maggie’s Pub for the Bravo Group’s annual event. Bravo Group founder and CEO CHRIS BRAVACOS was a Republican political operative. However, like most lobbying groups, it does also work for Democrats.

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