Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Accountable Gang of Four Forms Harrisburg PAC

October 2009.

Democrats Hillary Kwiatek and Jeanne McNeill have waged a spirited and well-financed race for Lehigh County Commissioner District seats. But those campaigns begin to unravel when their campaign finance reports reveal that County Exec Don Cunningham is funding them in an attempt to pack the board. Thanks to a recently adopted Ordinance, designed to make County government more transparent and accountable, all their contributions are listed on the County web page. Kwiatek and McNeill are caught almost immediately.

Fast forward to the 2011 County Commissioner race. This time, it's four at-large seats, including one occupied by Chairman Dean Browning. And in a Gang of Four news release, four Republicans - Scott Ott, Dave Najarian, Lisa Scheller and Vic Mazziotti - make very clear they view their candidacies as a referendum on Dean Browning.

Now when Kwiatek and McNeill ran, they made a horrible mistake. They were honest. They truthfully told you where their money came from, hurting both themselves and their benefactor in the process. They amended reports to make it even more clear.

Scott Ott is much too clever for that. He's Scappleface, damn it! The last thing he wants you to know is how he gets his money. And the best way to keep you in the dark is by running all the dough through a statewide PAC. Sure, he must still file reports. But instead of appearing online immediately, as would happen in Lehigh County, his state report should be available about a month or two after the election.

Ott's PAC? My Lehigh County. Filed in Harrisburg. That's part of his Lehigh County. Campaign treasurer Donald Kurtzman has never voted in Lehigh County. His Lehigh County must be somewhere else, too.

In addition to the inherent dishonesty of filing a Lehigh County PAC in Harrisburg, Scrappleface insults us further by claiming it "was formed to advance the cause of accountability, transparency and reform in Lehigh County government ... It belongs to you." All this accountability for me??

Speaking of accountability, Ott registered this domain on February 7, 2011. He asks for "$10, $50, $100, $250, $500 or whatever you can devote to this cause." But over a month later, on March 8th, he filed an affidavit with the Lehigh County Voter Registration office claiming he has no intention of forming a political committee, or raising or spending more than $250. At the time he filed this sworn statement, he had already formed a committee.

The same's true for Bossman Wayne Woodman's wife, Lisa Scheller. She registered her domain on February 14, and in it, she seeks "a contribution of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or $25." But on March 8, she swears under oath that she has no intention of forming a committee or raising any money.

This is what Scrappleface means by "accountability, transparency and reform in Lehigh County government"? With their Harrisburg PAC and false affidavits, they're off to a great start. I'll take the guy who votes his conscience, any day of the week.

Some of you may prefer to discuss Lehigh County spending or whatever, but the first and foremost question in any races should be honesty. Even for people who get perfect scores in their tea party ratings.

44 comments:

Chris Casey said...

Outstanding Post

Anonymous said...

Cheater's sometimes win and winners sometimes cheat...

Anonymous said...

Bernie
You keep us informed, even if the information is very upsetting and disappointing. No way I'll vote for any of these guys.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

We've been down this path before.

The affidavits you refer to are for the individual candidate or the individual candidate's committee. Those are separate from any PAC filings, and the affidavits are used to let the voter registration office know if they should be expecting reports from the candidate or an individual candidate's committee.

If they are using a separate PAC, their affidavits are still in order.

If you believe otherwise, you should take it to the Voter Registration office (which apparently doesn't have a problem with the affadavits as filed) and let them decide. They are the experts in the matter, can accurately assess the issue, and can apply whatever penalty is appropriate.

Until it is taken to the Voter Registration office, however, this is just a smear campaign at the direction of a certain candidate who doesn't want to discuss his voting record.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

I'm just curious and I honestly don't know the answer to this question but I thought I'd ask.

Where is Dean Browning's PAC (the Victory PAC, I believe) registered? Lehigh County or Harrisburg?

Anonymous said...

Pretty much they all have PAC's, you just have a bone to pick.

Anonymous said...

Patrick McHenry, the Voter Registration office is not an enforcement agency. But I do give you credit for your seemingly slippery "democrat" explanation of clear dishonesty of the "four".
God I hate politics.
Bob

Patrick McHenry said...

Bob -

Not an enforcement agency? Really?

Just last year I read in this very blog how Ed Pawlowski was forced to pay a fine for an incorrect filing. By the Voter Registration Office.

Should they give Ed his money back?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The affidavits you refer to are for the individual candidate or the individual candidate's committee. Those are separate from any PAC filings,"

Patrick, At the very least, this is disingenuous on the part of these candidates. It is highly insulting for them to claim to be accountable and transparent while simultaneously using a collective PAC.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Until it is taken to the Voter Registration office, however, this is just a smear campaign at the direction of a certain candidate who doesn't want to discuss his voting record."

I first discovered the existence of this PAC yesterday, and am in the process of deciding whether to lodge a complaint. Their individual affidavits, under these circumstances, are at the very least misleading.

If you believe I am doing this at the instance and direction of Dean Browning, you are sadly mistaken. I am doing this bc I believe people have a right to know when candidates who hold themselves out as accountable and transparent are actually game players who want to keep their finances away from the public. They commence their campaigns by misleading the public.

I will not that one of this Gang of Four did NOT sign his name to this misleading statement, and that is Vic Mazziotti.

As for Dean's voting record, he's more than willing to discuss that anytime. In fact, he shot several videos about it.

But before we get into voting records and "less government" and "less spending," a more fundamental question must be answered. Is the candidate honest? I believe Ott and Scheller are fundamentally dishonest and are misleading voters.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Where is Dean Browning's PAC (the Victory PAC, I believe) registered? Lehigh County or Harrisburg?"

Dean's PAC is registered in Harrisburg, and it does not appear on the LC web page. But Dean electronically files, so his reports appear immediately on the state site. He also does not give it a misleading "Lehigh County" name and pretend it is local.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Not an enforcement agency? Really?"

It really isn't. It can impose fines, but the maximum that can be charged is $250. The only real enforcement agency is the DA or AG. It is highly unlikely that either office would interject itself in this matter bc you have to show criminal intent, and that is a heavy burden.

Anonymous said...

VOTE FOR BRAD OSBORNE!

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Patrick, At the very least, this is disingenuous on the part of these candidates. It is highly insulting for them to claim to be accountable and transparent while simultaneously using a collective PAC."

********************************

Bernie -

You are trying to use the affidavit to prove something that it is not intended to prove. It is not a definitive statement that the candidate will be spending no money on a campaign. Such an assumption is ridiculous and unfair.

If the purpose of the affidavit is to let the Voter Registration office know whether to expect a report, there's nothing disengenous about filling it out correctly.

Also, there's also nothing illegal about forming and using a collective PAC. That's certainly legal under the law.

It seems what you are trying to do is assign some sort of intent to their actions without having any solid evidence to support it.

I am glad that you are considering filing a complaint. I think if you do so it would clear this non-issue up.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, thank you soooo much for bringing this to light, you are truly doing the public a service.

Oh yes, the voters will be sooooo upset over this clerical crap about PAC's registered here or there. So upset that they'll be willing to dismiss a 16% tax increase.

C'mon, stick to the issues that matter.

Thank you P.Henry for exposing Bernie's hypocrisy. Wonder where Scott got the idea to file a PAC...from the good saint Dean.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"You are trying to use the affidavit to prove something that it is not intended to prove. It is not a definitive statement that the candidate will be spending no money on a campaign. Such an assumption is ridiculous and unfair."

My assumption is that people should mean what they say and say what they mean. In that regard, I note that Mazziotti did NOT sign that affidavit, knowing as he does that more than $250 would be spent on his behalf.

Ott and Scheller quite clearly were misleading the voter. That is a PUBLIC document. It is not there for internal election office use, but for people like me. And in fact, when they filed those waivers, I posted a blog complimenting them for trying to run a race without money. I had no idea they were misleading me and everyone else. At that time, I did not see you come on there and claim they would be spending money.

Frankly, you are ignoring dishonesty when it is right in your face simply bc these people fit into your ideological scheme. But really, Patrick, if they can't be trusted to be honest about their money sources, how can they be trusted to be honest about anything else?

Yes, I support Dean Browning, and he was doing exactly what these folks want done long before any of them had a desire to seek office. While Woodie was basking in Beverly Hills, Browning was the sole vote against more funding for the LV Zoo without oversight. While Scrappleface was running for President, Browning was enduring a parade of angry people from Allentown Arts about cutbacks that he recommended.

I met Brownng after his first election, and in a meeting full of graphs and charts, he told me then that LC was heading for a tax increase in 2011 or 2012. He pointed to areas where he could cut, and spent three years trying to do just that, often alone.

Last year, he took it a step further and sat down with the admin to look for areas to cut. They worked together. The other Comm'rs were off doing their thing, for the most part.

The ridiculous idea of sending the budget back was nothing more than a political stunt. For one thing, it never would have worked. For another, there is only so much room to cut in a county that is mandated to provide core services that we rely on every day.

Dean Browning has been your greatest ally when it comes to fiscally prudent government, but is being made out the bad guy by ill-informed pundits and wannabes simply bc he valued doing the right thing over political expedience.

Yes, he owns that vote and he owns everything else he did leading to that vote. Ott and Scheller own their misleading affidavits. And Woodman completely misled me about being neutral.

Your decision to dismiss Dean is uninformed and contrary to your own ideology. But if you'd rather elect someone who has his eyes on the next office, be my guest. If you'd rather elect someone who can't be trusted to be honest, don't let me stop you.

We get the government we deserve.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Oh yes, the voters will be sooooo upset over this clerical crap about PAC's registered here or there. So upset that they'll be willing to dismiss a 16% tax increase."

If you want to elect a candidate who is dishonest, don't let me stop you.

Anonymous said...

conservatives don't care if their candidates are liars. they want conservatives in office, no questions asked.

if you can't trust them with a statement about $250, how can you trust them with a budget the size of Lehigh County's? You can't... end of story.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie O'Hare said:

"In that regard, I note that Mazziotti did NOT sign that affidavit, knowing as he does that more than $250 would be spent on his behalf."

******************************

Again, you are taking facts out of context and jumping to the conclusion you're looking for.

It is also possible that he was/is planning to have his own candidate's committee in addition to the joint PAC.

Anonymous said...

"It is also possible that he was/is planning to have his own candidate's committee in addition to the joint PAC."

So he INTENDED to form a committee or spend more than $250!!!

He signed a legal document saying he had no such intentions.

He lied about his intentions and now he is avoiding transparency.

Patrick McHenry said...

Anon 1:58 -

Try to keep up here.

Bernie wrote that "I note that Mazziotti did NOT sign that affidavit...".

Kind of make your who post irrelevant, doesn't it?

I merely stated one possible reason for Mazziotti not to have signed the affidavit that Bernie is using to persecute the others.

I'm Closing Gitmo said...

"conservatives don't care if their candidates are liars. they want conservatives in office, no questions asked."

indeed. liberals never ever ever lie.

Anonymous said...

Bernie:

I did not sign the affidavit in question because I did not fully understand the implications of signing it.

As you know, candidates for public office are generally required to file two finance reports, one for their committee and one as an individual.

It was my belief that signing the affidavit in question relieved the candidate of the of the responsibility of submitting the individual report, if they did not spend over $250 on their campaign. But since I was not sure, I did not sign it.

So, even if I do not spend over $250 on my campaign, as an individual, I will still be required to file the report.

One of your readers who better understands this affidavit may be able to shed more light on this matter.

Vic Mazziotti

Anonymous said...

Why filter money though a PAC in the first place? Is it to hide the direct donors with pass through money?

Where can we get information on the donors to these PACs including administrators and donors?

Jon Curran said...

I'm sorry, but ignorance is not an excuse. I want my elected officials to be able to seek out an answer or solution, not sit on their hands and hope everything turns out for the best.

Anonymous said...

"Why filter money though a PAC in the first place? Is it to hide the direct donors with pass through money?"

in a nutshell...

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I did not sign the affidavit in question because I did not fully understand the implications of signing it."

Bingo.

That's EXACTLY what I would expect from a man of honor, which is what you are. I know you do not sign your name lightly and believe you have conducted yourself with integrity. I cannot say the same for the fellow members of your plank. Vic, come away from the dark side. You don't belong there. I know you think Dean needs to be ousted from office, but not by people who can't even be honest.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Patrick,

I talked to Dean, and he states he did not setup that PAC to fund his campaign. He has a separate campaign committee for that. The PAC was setup in 2009 to act as a vehicle to raise money for the 5 Republican candidates running for the district seats. Each of those candidates had their own individual committees and the money from the PAC went to those committees which, in turn, reported that to Lehigh County where it was posted online at the County’s website. The purpose of having local committees and the ordinance Dean authored to require local campaign reports for county candidates was so that everyone would know immediately where the money was coming from and could also tell immediately when someone was late in filing.

Andy Roman said...

Bernie,

Sheriff Ron Rossi also signed the affadavit on his petitions that he also would not spend more than $250.00 dollars.

You might want to ask him if he too will be true to his sworn affadavit?

He might have trouble confirming that, since he apparently didn't remember where he lived because he wrote an incorrect home address on his own petition, and had his Deputy Wes Haverkamp deliver them on County time. (time stamped filing receipt 10:23 a.m.)

The Top Law enforcement officer of the County, running a re-election campaign out of the Court House, using his Chief Deputy as courier, who also happens to be the Notory on all of his petitions.

Certainly, no ethical problems there Bernie.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Andy, If Ron Rossi is not true to his affidavit, he'll be facing some big problems.

Anonymous said...

best blog I have read in some time, just shows the true colors of the Gang of Four

Anonymous said...

Rossi has no worries, he can sign the affidavit that says no more than @250, but if he does go above $250, he has to report it, READ THE BACK OF THE NOMINATING PETITION!!!

" will file reports as required by law if contributions or expenditures exceed two hundred fifty dollars "

Anonymous said...

Did Rossi know what he was signing, if he doesn't even know his home address??

He's a dope!

eckville press said...

Eck claims to be no lawyer, but Eck did stay at a Holiday Inn.

That said,

Read the campaign finance reporting law, read the law again, now read the law for the third time.

Done?

Now remember my friends, eight candidates are running for four seats. Count them on your fingers if that helps.

On election night, four candidates will advance to the general election and four will have their whiskers clipped. VOTE PIP.

Did you get the joke?

Does signing the waiver make sense now?

If not, read the campaign finance law one more time, SLOWLY.

As always,
Respectfully,
Eckville Press

Bernie O'Hare said...

I knew that bastard Pip was in this mix. I warned Browning about that little rodent.

eckville press said...

"The PAC was setup in 2009 to act as a vehicle to raise money for the 5 Republican candidates running for the district seats."

BUSTED,

"I will balance the county budget without increasing property taxes or raiding county reserves. Government must live within its means and only spend what it takes in."

Tom ( I approved in a secrete telephone call with my colleague Kermit Delong, to reimburse the townships elected auditor $299.95 for the refrigerator in O-Park that was donated by an anonymous donor) Creighton.

Can you say "Pass the TIDE my friend"

Paid for by the Lehigh County Victory Pac.

Respectfully,
Eckville Press

GOOD NIGHT.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit post!

Chris Casey said...

Andy Roman should think long and hard befor making any scurrilous accusations about Ron Rossi.
Andy, do you own a transoporter beam?
Because you signed on over 20 of your petitions that you were the circulator of those very petitions.
The problem there being that you obtained signatures simultaneously on the same day in almost every municipality.
Either you drive really fast, own a Start Trek style transporter beam, or you fudged a bit in submitting those petitions. Which do you think is more likely?
Go down to County, I filled out a form and I inspected your petitions. I know what I am talking about.
Mr Roman, you are playing with fire. Be very glad your petitions were not challenged, because they could have been, but no Republican would have cared.

It always amazes me that candidates will launch a bomb without thinking of the consequences. Andy Roman should think long and hard about throwing stones, especially when he lives in a glass house. For Now.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

It is plainly clear that you will twist whatever statements are made to fit your foregone conclusion.

Mazziotti explains that he didn't sign the affidavit because HE didn't understand the implications, and you spin that to imply that as support for your story.

Please - have the courage and honesty to file your complaint with the Voter registration office. Let the people who deal with the campaign laws on a daily basis examine the facts and decide. Stop slandering people who have decided to run for office on the ISSUES. The unsubstantiated personal attacks are what drives so many people from politics - or even voting.

If you really think a wrong was committed, fine. Follow the procedures and report it. If there is an ounce of fairness left in you, give it a shot.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Patrick, As I indicated, Vic is the only honest person in this bunch. He will not sign something he does not understand. The rest of them don't give a shit.

Like I said, I only became aware of this information on Monday. There is a difference between a criminal false statement and a candidate who actively misleads the voter. I am not in the habit of making serious allegations of criminal behavior unless I am totally convinced there is criminal activity, so it is unlikely I will file a complaint. But if I did, it would be with the DA. You have already stated their defense. They will say they meant no individual committee, but the simple reality is that they were misleading us all, as does the "mylehighcounty" PAC.

You operate under the incorrect assumption that, before I accuse them of misleading the voter, I must convince myself that what they did rises to the criminal level and file charges. I don't share that view.

In the Gracedale matter, for example, there are over 1,000 duplicate signatures. Some of this was likely innocent, but some of it comes from circulators and members of the petition committee, who obviously knew what they were doing. Although I have incorporated this after discovered evidence in my argument to the Commonwealth Court, I have made no complaint to the DA and have no intention of doing so. I don't believe the criminal process should be invoked lightly.

In this case, it is likely that I would fail with a criminal complaint. I could never establish criminal intent. But just as with Gracedale, there is no doubt in my mind that Ott and Scheller were deceiving the elections office and the voters.

Vic Mazziotti states exactly what he states. He did not sign something he did not understand. The rest of them were much more reckless with their word.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

Again you assume that the others (unlike Mazziotti, who admits he didn't understand the affidavit) deliberately signed the affidavit - regarding individual candidate's committees - in order to mislead.

Wouldn't a much more likely explanation be that the others DID understand what they were being asked to sign - and that it was a statement that they did not intend to set up and raise funds under an individual committee?

I don't expect you to file charges with the DA over the matter. But it would be nice if you actually spoke to someone in the Voter Registration Office and clarified what the affidavit is for and what the candidate's are attesting to.

I think your reluctance to do so stems from the fact that you know you are wrong and you have manufactured an non-issue for your candidate.

Bernie O'Hare said...

No, what I'm saying is that it is highly misleading. In Scheller's case, she has a personal web page in which she is actively soliciting money, and on her own behalf. It was up for over a month before she signed an affidavit stating she had no intention of raising money. It is very clear that this is exactly what she was already doing, and on her own behalf. So her affidavit is a lie, even under your own contorted arguments.

This is no manufactured non-issue. It is very clear that, even under your own analysis, the affidavit is a lie.

The first and foremost issue in any race should be the honesty of the candidates. In most races, that is a given. In this one, it is not. How ironic that they would attack Browning for not following his conscience. It is very apparent that their views of honesty and integrity differ from those of the rest of us.

And you defend this?

Come on.

eckville press said...

The semicolon allows the writer to imply a relationship between nicely balanced ideas without actually stating that relationship.

There lies the quorum :)

Any candidate for local office filing an affidavit pursuant to section 1621.1, who exceeds the two hundred fifty dollar limit, here in specified, during a reporting period shall file the report require by section 1626 which shall be cumulative from the beginning of the reporting period. No further report shall be required for any subsequent period unless a candidate for local office receives contributions or makes expenditures in excess of two hundred fifty dollars during said reporting period.

When in doubt; Fill it out!

Respectfully,
Eckville Press

Anonymous said...

One could make the argument that Mazziotti is just "slicker" than the others in the group. He wants to hang with them for the benefit but keep a distance from any problems. that is just dishonest and disingenuous.

My criticism still holds. I know Bernie loves Mazziotti but if he was such an upstanding guy he would disassociate himself from this group and condemn their actions.

On the other hand he may completely support hem, which creates a moral dilemma for Bernie. How can you possibly hammer these folks while praising your buddy.

Sorry Bernie, again this piece flunks the smell test.

The Procter!