In a recent interview Siobhan Bennett falsely accused me of using my position in Congress to enrich myself. When confronted by the press about her false charge she was completely unable to substantiate her absurd claim.
Siobhan Bennett should be the last person hurling accusations regarding personal finances, given her abuse and waste of taxpayer money at Properties of Merit (POM). She’s trying to deflect attention away from her own significant problems that she created. But, it won’t work – and she knows it.
My opponent already has a record of handling taxpayer money and it is not one she should be proud of. POM is largely funded with state and other public money.
In other words, money from us – the taxpayers.
It has been well-documented that Siobhan helped set her own salary at $110,000 – an excessive amount for her job by any standard – whether measured against the salaries of other non-profit executives in our community – or more importantly, by the standards of the IRS.
In fact, State Senator Pat Browne, a CPA and Chair of the Senate Finance Committee protested against this abuse and said Bennett’s salary was excessive and in violation of IRS rules. Lehigh County Executive, Don Cunningham, a Democrat, held up all county funds for POM after learning about Bennett’s abuse of taxpayer money.
After her salary scam was uncovered in the media, Bennett said she would cut her salary in half to $55,000. But, her financial disclosures indicate that she still collected $88,000 of our money in 2007. Newsflash: That’s not half of $110,000.
Frankly, it is amazing that she’s still being paid anything at all. She should have been held to account and fired for her gross misconduct.
Ms. Bennett has dismissed this issue and wants the taxpayers to believe that everything is okay. But, it is not.
In fact, the reason I’m discussing this matter today is because of a well-publicized, similar situation that has occurred in Western Pennsylvania. As it happens another politically-connected individual set herself up as the executive director of a non-profit called the Volunteer Action Center. Like POM, this group received hundreds of thousands of state taxpayer dollars thanks to her political ties to Harrisburg politicians. Like Bennett, she also took part in setting her own six-figure salary, taking over one-third of the charity’s budget. And, only when questions were made public about her excessive compensation did she try to defuse the situation by cutting her salary by $50,000.
The only real difference is that the attorney for this woman’s non-profit demanded that the salary be reduced retroactively and the excess money be returned to the charity.
In other words, the woman in Western Pennsylvania not only had to cut her pay but also had to pay back her excessive salary.
Less than two weeks ago the woman involved, Darla LaValle, the wife of a state Senator, was indicted by the state Attorney General for other crimes relating to her actions at the non-profit.
Isn’t it interesting that Ms. LaValle is headed to court while Siobhan Bennett thinks she deserves to go to Congress?
Siobhan Bennett should pay back the money that she owes to Properties of Merit and then she should step down from her position until this matter is actually investigated.
Trust is an issue in any campaign. Public officials are expected to meet high ethical standards. I have done my best to be an honorable, trustworthy public servant and I don’t appreciate it when my opponent takes cheap, false shots at my family and our finances. For your inspection, here are my financial disclosures for this year and my opponent’s for the past two years.
And, with all the problems we’ve witnessed in Harrisburg, like Bonusgate, and in Washington, DC from both parties, can we really afford to elect someone like Siobhan Bennett?
In my view, her conduct at POM should disqualify her from holding any position of public trust.