Monday, September 04, 2006
Lehigh County Officials & Their Slush Funds
Thanks to some terrific reporting by the Morning Call, we've learned that Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski both very recently maintained slush funds for corporate contributions. Although ostensibly set up to defray inaugural and transition expenses, they were still raking in contributions in June. Accounts weren't closed until reporters started snooping around.
Pols were able to write checks to themselves for nice little perks. Cunningham's chief of staff wrote himself a check for $300 in June for pin money at a convention. What the hell does that have to do with Cunningham's inaguration or transition?
What these pols did is highly questionable. Maintaining a secret fund to funnel corporate contributions long after an inauguration is very likely an attempt either to evade campaign finance laws or grab creature comforts not available to the public at large. It certainly does not pass the smell test.
Elmer Gates, a local gazillionaire who owns banks and likes to have his way with local pols, insists that the $1,000 he gave to Cunningham has absolutely nothing to do with the $400,000 that Lehigh County deposited with his bank. He just wants "good government." Hmm, I wonder what Elmer considers bad government.
When asked why he didn't set up a similar fund, Northampton County Executive John Stoffa told a reporter he wanted to "stay clean." I wish some of our other local pols were as hygenic.