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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

And Now For a Few Words From Don Cunningham

Did you know Don Cunningham works for Superior Court Judge and Supreme Court candidate Jack Panella? It's true.

I'm not talking about the person who'd like to remain in office as Lehigh County Executive for the next four years, but his dad. The Cunningham and Panella families have been close for years.

Why do I mention this? Because that's one of the chief reasons for two contributions that Don Cunningham the Exec made to the Pennsylvania Democratic party on October 5 ($22,000) and October 9 ($50,000), totalling $72,000.00. As Don explained in a conversation yesterday, it was never his intention to see that vast sum spent on two Commissioner candidates. And it's not what happened, either. In fact, only about half that sum is funding those local races.

Some of the remaining funds went to Don's own campaign, and the rest is intended to help the Lehigh Valley's Jack Panella, who is in a very tight Supreme Court race against Judge Joan Orie Melvin. A recent poll shows they are in a dead heat.

"I'd love to see a Supreme Court justice from the Lehigh Valley," Cunningham told me, but is very concerned. Melvin is a western Pennsylvania native, and is expected to win big there. Ordinarily, that would be offset by the huge Democratic edge in Philadelphia, but not this year. The City of Brotherly Love is expected to have a very low turnout. "There are no hot races, no mayor's race, and everyone there will be talking about the World Series," Cunningham noted. So if Panella hopes to become one of the Supremes, he needs a big win in the Lehigh Valley. He needs both a huge margin and a big turn out.

"I'll be honest, I intend to donate even more money to the state Democratic party." Even if some of the money goes to local candidates here or elsewhere, that will ultimately help Panella, Cunningham reasons. It makes sense. This is not so much about seizing control of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners. That would be nice, but Cunningham's primary focus is electing Judge Panella to the Supreme Court.

Using the state party also gives him the biggest bang for his buck. In addition to cheaper mailing rates, they can "do things in bulk, and that enables you to do more for less."


michael molovinsky said...

i guess i'm missing something. if it is the role of a judge to impartially interpret the law, why does it matter where he/she is from? should the judge show regional favoritism in decisions?

Fellow Parishioner said...

Despite the front of Catholicism, Sons of Italy and Knights of Columbus, voters should know that Panella is the big abortion supporter in this race. He sent his kids to Catholic school to learn the folly of the Roe v. Wade trimester arrangement. His kids wrote essays on the topic and submitted them for diocesan competitions. Now, Jack is waffling and declaring Roe v. Wade settled law and he's in favor of vacuuming the unborn.

Combine this with his drenching in union money and Jack is just another lefty fanatic from Central Casting.

This comment may actually gain him votes on this blog. However, Catholic anti-abortion voters should not be fooled by the politicians' smile Jack flashes at Mass at St. Janes. I watch him say, "Lord, hear our prayer," at the general intercessions when responding to the congregations' plea for public officials who respect life from the moment of conception.

He's the big abortion guy who's asking for a position that may have a great impact on the issue in PA. It's time to stop voting for Death Culture candidates like Jack Panella.

Carol said...

Fellow Parishioner, I can hear my Mother's words, walk a mile in those shoes and then think, pray and work at your decision; secondly, why are you watching Judge Jack instead of your priest, I respect your opinion but I also expect respect for those that differ, this is America.

Scott said...

Panellas' ties to labor and Norco Dem bosses gravely concern me.

Count me as a vote for Melvin.

Anonymous said...

Lets make this the year of Lehigh Valley. Vote Cunningham and Panella.

Anonymous said...

First I would agree with Molovinsky. Judges should be impartial. The problem with large contributions is that the politician will then feel obligated to the large contributor. Obviously a no, no. So why should I or anyone believe it is important to have a local judge? Mr Cunninghem you should spend your money for all the citizens of the commonwealth.
Also, Mr Cunningham, you should worry more about the finances of the county and less about state wide offices.
Bob Romancheck

Anonymous said...

Panella's stance on life issues is of great importance to all Pennsylvania's. He's been cited for his support of Roe v. Wade. The PA Pro-life Federation recommends Melvin.

Chris Casey said...

I am not keen on Panella, but Orie Melvin? She's as whacked as the north 18th street irregulars of Allentown. Can't even argue that one, Panella is hands down better than here, Orie Melvin is a scary ideologue who would have fit in under Alberto Gonzales as U.S. attorney General.
I am glad to read how Cunningham's money trail played out, and read that Browning was trying to level the field.
Good old fashioned Democracy, Money talks, B.S, walks!

Anonymous said...

Melvin's a bitch, but Panella's a butcher?

Once again, hold nose and pull the lever.

Anonymous said...

The Cunningham money is tainted;it was raised under false pretenses i.e.,his running for Governor. The money should be given back to the donors.Shame ...shame

Anonymous said...

"The money should be given back to the donors."

If donors want the money back, they can ask for it and are entitled to receive it back. They contributed knowing that Don might not run. If it is tainted, it is tainted b/c it is political money.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"i guess i'm missing something. if it is the role of a judge to impartially interpret the law, why does it matter where he/she is from?"

Yes, you certainly are missing something. As long as judges are elected, it matters very much where they are from. It's why appellate judges are largely from Pittsburgh and Philly.

People in Pittsburgh consider themselves midwesterners. Their attitudes are completely different. They elect people who think that way, too. So it does matter.

We need justices on the supreme copurt who reflect more closely how we in this area feel. In fact, I'd support reforms to how they are elected to make it more regional.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Now, Jack is waffling and declaring Roe v. Wade settled law"

Then he's in agreement with the most conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. It is settled law. And that's the way it works. he's bound by the U.S. Supreme Court, no matter how he feels personally or whatever inflammatory language you use here to excite our passions.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The money should be given back to the donors."

There is nothing unethical or improper about Cunningham's decision to use political money to help politicians. It is important that people know what is happening, and he has been very candid about his intentions.

Anonymous said...


Cunningham's explanation has certainly "evolved" since yesterday.

I suppose by tomorrow he will be saying that the $72,000 was to be donated to the families of US soldiers serving overseas.

Give me a break!

Anonymous said...

Seems to me, that any confusion about the contributions, would have been eliminated if Mr. Cunningham had simply donated directly to the candidates. The candidates could then have sent money to the State Dem Party and been able to use the non profit permit. Whether you believe the explanation of the commissioner candidates or not, this round -about way of Mr. Cunningham contributing to those candidates created a layer of complication that was anything but transparent. I personally believe this was the intent.

Anonymous said...

Wow how cares! The money was given for cunningham so he can use however. I don't care if he gives out free hotdogs with it. And I don't care that panella is close to them either. Its polictics there all close. Focus on anybody and you can write an article like this. Same crap different day blah blah blah

Anonymous said...

So Cunningham SAYS he intended them money for Panella, so it must be true! Gee, how could Bernie have been so wrong...

Anonymous said...

Lots of union dough for Jack. He's proudly bought and paid for by the same purple shirts who use goon tactics to demand resignations of county employees who question the union. These are Jack's people. This is Jack's source of money for an increasingly negative campaign. Melvin, to her credit, hasn't gone negative. Jack is caught in statewide gutter politics in a desperate move to get noticed from a region where judges toil in frustrating anonymity. Very disappointing to see him stoop to this crap.

Anonymous said...

Bernie hates those purple shirted gonns. Well he only hates them now that they go after Stoffa. he loved them when they attacked Reibman. and of course he excuses Smilin Jack from the purple support because he like Jack.

This is becoming a very complicated political soap opera.