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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Browning: Kwiatek & McNeill Fail Independence Test

Don Cunningham campaign manager Dan Kelly, responding to claims that the Lehigh County Executive is the sugar daddy for Comm'r candidates Hillary Kwiatek and Jeanne McNeill, has decided to turn tables on Republicans. In a news release published yesterday, LC Comm'r Dean Browning is portrayed as the "spearhead and leader of a GOP coordinated campaign targeting Lehigh County Commissioner Districts 1 and 5." He adds that Dean "is spending more time lately running the day to day fundraising and financial operations of this coordinated campaign than he is watching the books of New World Aviation."

So there.

Arch-villian Dean Browning took some time out from sticking needles into Cunningham voodoo dolls yesterday to forward this reply to Dan Kelly's jeremiad.

The purpose of the campaign finance reports filed this past Friday was to report campaign donations made to and expense made by and for candidates for the period from June 9, 2009 through October 19, 2009. With that in mind, it is important to review what the voters know today that they did not know when the reports were initially filed. Thanks to the reporting by Lehigh Valley Ramblings, the Examiner.com and The Morning Call, voters now know the following:

* The Friends of Donald Cunningham, Jr. (FDCJ) committee sent $72,000 to the PA Democratic Committee.
* This money was then used to produce three mailers for Hillary Kwiatek and three mailers for Jeanne McNeill. (see their reports
* All six mailers were either delivered or in the mail on or before October 19.
* The combined cost of these mailers was $34,861.23 with $17,058.53 for Kwiatek and $17,802.70 for McNeill.

* Dan Kelly (Cunningham’s campaign manager) reports on October 27th that this is the total spent “to date”. But a fourth McNeill mailer, paid for by the PA Democrat Committee, arrived on or around October 24th. So it is unclear if the $34,861.23 is actually the total spent “to date”.
* Neither Kwiatek nor McNeill reported this large expense in their initial reports, claiming instead that the total money spent on their campaigns was $3,589.58 and $3,895.76, respectively.

Both Kwiatek and McNeill are first time candidates. It is possible they were unclear about the reporting requirements (although that doesn’t speak highly of their future ability to review and monitor a $400 million County budget). Their sensible response was acknowledging their error, filing an amended report and then moving on. Rather than let them do that, the local Democrat party and the Cunningham campaign chose to engage in several attempts at misdirection.

Their initial attempt was a news release claiming that the Lehigh County Republican Committee (LCRC) and the Lehigh County Victory PAC (LCVP) had “FAILED to file a financial report with the County, State, or any regulatory body at all”. [Blogger's note: I never published that news release]

When this accusation was quickly shown to be false [Blogger's note: That's why I never published that news release], they moved on to the most recent approach. Now, Kelly is claiming that financial reports filed by the LCRC [Lehigh County Republican Committee] and LCVP [Lehigh County Victory PAC] are incorrect. Of course, the release which trumpets this claim also includes the standard personal attacks.

Leaving those gratuitous comments aside, the fact is that these financial reports are correct. Through October 19, 2009 the LCVP spent $6,801.00 on four commissioner candidates and this was reported as an in-kind contribution on each of their finance reports. Any additional money spent by the LCVP was for its own operations and on GOTV efforts to benefit all Lehigh County candidates on November 3rd. Through October 19, 2009, the LCRC did not have any expenses related to the Republican candidates for County Commissioner. That can easily be determined by a cursory review of the online report.

This Cunningham campaign news release also tries to argue that the Executive's contributions to Commissioner Candidates are really no different from donations by the LCRC or the LCVP. That's wrong for two reasons.

First, neither the LCRC, LCVP (nor I) develop the annual operating budget submitted to the Board of Commissioners for approval. That is the responsibility of the County Executive.

Second, neither the LCRC, LCVP (nor I) negotiate contracts with the Collective Bargaining Units that represent the County’s employees and submit them to the Board of Commissioners for review and approval. That is the responsibility of the County Executive.

The Board of Commissioners has a responsibility as a separate and distinct body of County government to act as an appropriate check and balance on the County Executive and his Administration. The question for voters to decide is whether a Commissioner whose election was made possible by donations from the County Executive can exercise independence, question and say no, if necessary, to that same County Executive.

The main question in all of this is whether Kwiatek and McNeill, if elected, will be able to function independently from Don and stand up to him when required. That is a vital role for any Commissioner. I’m sure if you ask them that question they will say, “Yes, absolutely, we will be independent.” However, in my opinion, they missed the opportunity to demonstrate that when they failed to say no when Don offered to fund their campaigns. In other words, they have already failed the “independent” test. I don’t think they should be given a second chance.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like Dean Browning is just an angry popey face!

eckville press said...

Pip the Mouse, District 1 write in!!! Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

Anonymous said...

that he dares to offer such an assessment when he has essential bought and paid for his candidates is laughable. all four of the candidates fail the independence test. it may be the bi-partisan characteristic of the election.

Anonymous said...

Dean must be winning this argument if Cunningham's mouthpiece has to bring Dean's work at a private company into the mix.

Kind of scummy. Like when Kelly implied that Scott Ott didn't have a job.

Team Cunningham is revealing a lot about itself in this response.

What does where Dean Browning work have to do with the issue at hand?

Anonymous said...

his work for a private business that benefits from our airport is relevant, especially when his co-workers are funding his PAC. He is a typical pay to play Republican. Pawlowski brought pay to play to Allentown... Browning to Lehigh County.

Anonymous said...

Fact that as of yesterday Morning the Republican Party had not submitted a finance report to Lehigh County. FACT Mr. Browning.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have a link to the online report submitted by the LCRC. Not only is the report on file, but it is availabale for public inspection throughout the state. It is required to file on the state level and did so.

Anonymous said...

"his work for a private business that benefits from our airport is relevant"

Mr, Class Warfare: How do you know that "your" airport isn't benefitting from the contributions of this private business?

Anonymous said...

Cunningham = sleazy campaigner. He's Dertinger, Rendell, Corzine and Obama rolled into one shitty smelling pile of political nastiness. We should expect more. It's hard to think any less. The Cunningham Tax Bomb will simply flatten LC's most vulnerable. He's a real nice guy.

Anonymous said...

'Mr, Class Warfare: How do you know that "your" airport isn't benefitting from the contributions of this private business?'

Since when is calling a politician out for his benefiting from it's relationship with the public sector. It's called pay to play.

And last week Ed Pawlowski tried to argue that the city was deriving economic development benefit for his pay to play activities... sure, the airport is benefiting alright, just like Allentown is benefiting.

Want to see if the Airport is benefiting... increase the fees associated with charter airplanes coming in and out of LVIA and watch the Browning Money Machine go nuts.

Anonymous said...

Browning said County Commissioners are to be a check and balance on the power of the Executive branch ....I guess to sorta prevent the kind of power play unfolding below?

So let's connect the dots:

Democrat Cunningham hires unemployed Union thug McNeil......McNeil has his wife run for County Commissioner........Wifey can't oppose Cunningham, wink, wink, nod, nod because...... he controls her husbands pay check.....and has funded her campaign.....but "shame on Creighton for nitpicking" says Jeanne McNeil (MC article)?

Besides, eveyone except the taxpayer wins.....the Executive gets his way..... the McNeils are in power...and in return for their contributions through McNeil... the Unions hold the taxpayers hostage at the negotiation table next year.

And I thought New Jersey politics was corrupt

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe Jeanne McNeill has a good shot in this race. She appears to be a genuinely nice person who has friends in her district. Conversely, Creightom appears to have made enemies, even among Republicans. That's a race to watch.

Anonymous said...

Browning doesn't want commissioners to be a check on the county executive: browning wants to be the check on the county executive so that he can then turn around and run for county executive.

The Browning money machine is all about HIS power and his pay to play antics, not good gov't and certainly not checks and balances.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dude, You got it all wrong. I've been researching a story all day and will brak it tomorrow. I know who is really trying to seize control of the county. It's Mennonites, damn it! Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

oh, my bad.

Anonymous said...

Don "the Con" Cunningham is buying two County Commissioners for $34,861.23.
This proves he knows how to waste money by overpaying for things.

Dean Browning does not care about any of his fellow Commissioners, so why spend $6,801 for them?

That's the price you pay to get the votes for the Chairmanship on the Board of Commissioners.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If you want to post anonymously, you should at least try to be honest. I have an email from Browning to fellow comm'rs stating he has no interest in being chair.