Monday, September 20, 2010

The Jennifer Mann Relationship That Really Bothers Me

My story last week about State Rep. Jennifer Mann and the precise nature of her relationship to fired firefighter and registered lobbyist Richard Gawlick, has raised a few eyebrows. Her personal life is her own business, but her public office is very much open to scrutiny. So I do care when someone trying to see Mann is passed off to a registered lobbyist and possible boyfriend. But all that pales in the face of another relationship that Mann herself freely admits. It's with a big spender, but she won't tell me how much she's paid for her services. She was nice enough to call me on Sunday, so I can tell you her side of the story.

Mann Denies Constituents Passed on to Gawlick

After twelve years, Jennifer occupies powerful leadership positions within the state house. She's Majority Caucus Secretary as well as a member of the Rules Committee, without which midnight sausage-making is impossible. I understand she even has a newer, and bigger, Harrisburg office.

In addition to what I told you last week, I've been told of one other person who had an appointment to see Mann in Harrisburg about two months ago, but was passed on to Richard Gawlick.

Mann, who has a staff of seven people, claims these allegations are "totally false." Noting that these people are unwilling to come forward and identify themselves, she adds, "That's funny, isn't it?"

"I work very hard, and take the respect and trust of other people very seriously," she told me in a Sunday evening telephone call. While acknowledging that she knows Gawlick as the political director of the statewide firefighters' association, she insists she has not seen him in her office for the past six months. She denies that Gawlick is paid by the state for his services, either as a House employee or under some form of contract, and dismisses the anonymous claims as "absolute nonsense." She also claims to have been slandered.

So why did her office give me the bum's rush last week? Her press dude actually hung up on me. "In my opinion, that was not handled very well. Very candidly, it was handled without interaction with me. I've always prided myself on being very direct and open in answering questions. You are right to expect that," says the legislator.

She also insists that the personal accusations about Gawlick are "unfounded." Frankly, I did not pursue it beyond that. She laments that elected leaders already have terrible reputations, being considered little better than a used car salesman.

"Could be worse," I joked. "You could be a blogger."

Frosty silence on the other end.

Maybe the cell reception was bad.

Mann More Reticent About Ties to Architectural and Engineering Firm Vitetta

"I've never been known as a person who dodges a question, and never will be," she told me Sunday night in a conversation that she herself initiated. But when I asked her to tell us how much money she gets from Vitetta, that's exactly what happened. She refused to answer, telling me she has no legal obligation to disclose exact amounts.

I first spoke with Mann about this three years ago, the only time I've ever talked to her. All I knew at that time was that she was doing some kind of consulting, and I incorrectly thought it had something to do with a small business she ran before seeking a seat in the state house.

Well, Vitetta is no mom-and-pop shop. It's a heavy hitter, both with the state and locally. It has offices in seven different states, and its own webpage reveals involvement in construction projects like the Pennsylvania Judicial Center, Pennsylvania Judicial Center Parking Garage, Pennsylvania Capitol, PennDOT Materials Testing Laboratory and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission-Service Plaza Reconstruction.

Many of these jobs are awarded by the state's Department of General Services. Until just a few weeks ago, that office was run by Lehigh Valley native and friend James Creedon. He still implements stimulus projects on a contract basis, and serves with Mann on the Stimulus Oversight Commission. There, they both get a head's up on where the state intends to spend federal stimulus dollars.

In addition to her Creedon ties, Mann actually dated Sean Pressman. He was Chief of Staff in General Services between 2/1/06 and 6/19/09.

Did Vitetta benefit as a result? I'm certain it's one of the reasons they wanted her.

Annual statements of financial interest for the past three years (2009, 2008 , 2007) reveal that Vitetta has been paying Mann, although the amounts are unstated.

In addition to consulting fees, Vitetta principal Allan Hoffman contributed $2,500 to Mann in 2008. Bonus?

Mann states she identifies business opportunities for Vitetta. Isn't she essentially trading on inside knowledge gained as a State Rep.? I've told her I believe she is using her public office improperly. In her defense, Mann did get clearance from the state ethics commission. She was warned against using her official position to solicit business. My concern is that no matter what she says, her elected office in and of itself is a form of pressure.

Mann tells me that precisely because of that "very fair concern," she stays away from all the local governments. "It's just not worth it," she said. She concedes that she may "have reached out to some regional school boards," although she does not make the initial contact.

Gee, how would you like to be an Easton or Bangor school supervisor who gets a call from Vitetta telling you that State Rep. Jennifer Mann would like to talk to you about the engineering firm you hire for your next middle school?

Let's face it. The not-so-subtle pressure of her powerful public office, in and of itself, should rule out this kind of moonlighting job.

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bullshit. How the Hell can you "work" for someone who does business with the state and through state funded operations, while you are an elected state representative? Even if it is legal, it stinks and is an insult to citizens.

This is just greed and corruption. These st. rep's make more money than they should, for less work then the people deserve. Pennsylvania has one of the largest state legislatures in the country, it pays the most and is still considered part-time.

It is time for a group of people to run in both parties promising to vote to reduce the size and pay of these "part-time" jobs.

Hell, between all her runs for every statewide office out there, Mann has little time to do the one job she was elected to do.

Stop the bullshit. Old pols who don't need money or a career anymore please come back and fix this bullshit wagon at all levels of government.

Greed and ego, ego and greed.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

Where is the Morning Call on all this.

Anonymous said...

"My concern is that no matter what she says, her elected office in and of itself is a form of pressure"


absolutely correct

Anonymous said...

Will this be the last chapter on Rep. Mann,Gawlick and Viteeta Enginnering. I hope not. There is nothing to read in the Morning Call.

Anonymous said...

It's with a big spender, but she won't tell me how much she's paid for her services. She was nice enough to call me on Sunday, so I can tell you her side of the story."

Did Mann use taxpayer money or not! That's the question that demands an answer!

Anonymous said...

Mann has served six terms. She's made a govt. job her career. Time to go. Let someone else have a chance.

Anonymous said...

so now that Mann completely debunked your crap about Gawlick, you turn to a dispute that you have had with her for 3 years and in the process bring up another dating relationship. Very classy. MM is spot on in assessing your work.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, All those years of suited appearances, quiet smiles and few words, you were able to convince residents they were well represented. Would you mind listing 15 important initiatives you launced to help taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
How the Hell can you "work" for someone who does business with the state and through state funded operations, while you are an elected state representative? Even if it is legal, it stinks and is an insult to citizens."

Well Said.

Anonymous said...

"someone trying to see Mann is passed off to a registered lobbyist and possible boyfriend"

What do you mean "passing off as a registered lobbyist."

Speaking of lobbyists, if you get time it would be an interesting blog to tally current state officials that lost in the primary and fall elections to
see how many enter the lobby work in Harrisburg.

Is there current state legislation forbidding any elected official to go straight from public office into such a career unless they wait say five years?

Anonymous said...

"elected leaders already have terrible reputations, being considered little better than a used car salesmen"...insurance agents...and, oh no! reporters!
Sadly think reporters are at the bottom of the heap.

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Is there a way we can find out what state legislators and their staff get paid? Also, are seven employees appropriate for a small district staff office or is that a lot of "padding."

Anonymous said...

Mann's media person would not have hung up if they were not hiding something.

Anonymous said...

I understand she even has a newer, and bigger, Harrisburg office.


How much does this cost us?

Anonymous said...

ut when I asked her to tell us how much money she gets from Vitetta, that's exactly what happened. She refused to answer, telling me she has no legal obligation to disclose exact amounts.

Is this true? She has no legal obligation to reveal ALL donations?

What's going on.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"you turn to a dispute that you have had with her for 3 years and in the process bring up another dating relationship."

Actually, I accepted wha Mann told me three years ago. I had no idea that her consulting was with Vitetta untl this weekend. Once again, I don't care about her private life except when it intersects with her public office. Just as her relationship with Gawlick raises concerns, her relationship with Pressman appeared to be a toll that culd lead to business for Vitetta. I told Mann last night that I felt her consulting gig is improper and there is no way she can reach out to any potential customer and not have that customer think he or she is being pressured.

Anonymous said...

NEWS BULLETIN BERNIE.
LIFE SECTION 9
TODAY'S MORNING CALL
UPPER SAUCON TOWNSHIP
ORDINANCE 141 B
After only passing 400+ PAGED
new zoning ordinance mandates last fall, UST today lists more to this legislation that some say forbids residents and taxpayers from simple freedoms and liberties. Perhaps you may wish to address these items as you now are on a friendly basis with the township's fee-finding zoning officer.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Is there a way we can find out what state legislators and their staff get paid?"

I will find out.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Is there a way we can find out what state legislators and their staff get paid?"

I do not know Trent Sear and would not know him if I fell over him. He does sometimes comment here and on other blogs. I notice that MM has posted on precisely this topic.

Anonymous said...

Are we to understand Mann, while getting a dream salary as a state representative mostly from hard-working budget conscious center city taxpayers struggling to buy food and pay PPL's huge electric bill also was getting paid and making phone calls to various school districts for an engineering firm? Is this correct?

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Perhaps you may wish to address these items as you now are on a friendly basis with the township's fee-finding zoning officer.
We were joking.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Is this true? She has no legal obligation to reveal ALL donations?"

She has no legal obligation to reveal the amount of money Vitetta pays her for her consulting work. So we have no way of knowing whether her state legislator salary pales in comparison to what she is getting from the private sector. I believe the exact figure should be required. If she gets a amall sum like $500 per year or something lke that, nobody would much care. But if it is a much larger sum, her independence and her commitment to her public position can be called into question.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Will this be the last chapter on Rep. Mann,Gawlick and Viteeta Enginnering."

I think not.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Are we to understand Mann, while getting a dream salary as a state representative mostly from hard-working budget conscious center city taxpayers struggling to buy food and pay PPL's huge electric bill also was getting paid and making phone calls to various school districts for an engineering firm? Is this correct"

Yes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"What do you mean 'passing off as a registered lobbyist.'"

hat I mean is that there are two instances in which constituents claim they thought they had an appointment with her, but that when they went to see her, they instead saw a Gawlick, a registered lobbysit, inside her office. Mann denies this, and my sources are, at least for now, anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Sean Pressman could do much better.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"When I asked her to tell us how much money she gets from Vitetta, that's exactly what happened. She refused to answer, telling me she has no legal obligation to disclose exact amounts."

The problem is we've not heard even a whisper of a Republican candidate throwing their hat in the ring to run against Mann, but if we were their advisors...the above Mann statement would resonate from all candidate commercials, and lead with, "What's Mann hiding?"

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am happy she is runnng unopposed bc nobody can claim this story is politically motivated.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, you really don't want voters to have a choice?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sure, but if someone were running against her this cycle, I'd be accused of carrying water for her opponent. Since there is no politics, we can focus on whether Mann's behavior is good government. We can ask whether elected state representatives should be allowed to trade on their public office, as I thnk she is doing. We can listen to her explanations and ak whether they make sense.

Anonymous said...

No, you didn't force Jennifer to do anything. She has been in office 12 years. She knows what's right and wrong. How she chooses to conduct her political and personal life is her choice, but she knows what she's doing.

Anonymous said...

I mean is that there are two instances in which constituents claim they thought they had an appointment with her, but that when they went to see her, they instead saw a Gawlick, a registered lobbysit, inside her office. Mann denies this, and my sources are, at least for now, anonymous.

They should have bought one of those little flip cameras. They're the best.

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

It is for reasons like this that I have a problem with Mann's paid staffer, Pete Schweyer serving on Allentown City Council. It is difficult to serve two masters, and the potential for a state rep to have that kind of influence on local matters is kind of scary.

I have a similar concern about former Mann aide Michael Schlossberg, although I don't believe he is currently employed by Mann.

Anonymous said...

Schlossberg has been a special officer for social media employed by the LV Chamber.

Anonymous said...

the salaries of state reps/senators are public info (73k plus great benefits and per diem... they ain't raking it in, but they ain't poor either). every year, one of the harrisburg beat writers does an article about the salaries of legislative staff. the focus is mostly on people working in harrisburg as director of one of the committees or chief of staff for somebody like the speaker or floor leader and sometimes those salaries hit 125k, but they are rare. they never cover the salary of district office staff. it's typically like 40-45k tops for district office staff. there are some of the youngest staffers in harrisburg earning 32k. many of them work second jobs doing campaign work which is where they get into trouble with conflicts of state time and campaign time (remember bonusgate... the biggest offenders were out of the legislative research office that often pays the lowest salary).

none of this info is used as an excuse for corrupt behavior. it is simply info to offer perspective.

Anonymous said...

Re: Jenn Mann and Pete Schweyer
Who will ever know if these two work their "second" jobs during taxpayer
time. That's the trouble with double-dipping.
Are taxpayers to believe Mann never took time from her "real" job to place calls on behalf of a corporation? Who has time to review all her cell phone records?

Anonymous said...

none of this info is used as an excuse for corrupt behavior. it is simply info to offer perspective.

9:43 AM


Thank you for this information. What number of staffers per legislator is considered reasonable? Do they all have media directors like Mann, acording to some official who spoke with Bernie.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Did you see this?

Gerrymandering The Districts
Stephanie Esposito | Reporter
Every 10 years after each census, states redraw the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts. But it's not as simple as it sounds. The five people who are given the power to draw those lines are notorious for drawing them for their own political benefit.

It's called gerrymandering and it's perfectly legal.

Voters are supposed to choose their representatives, but the reality is that the system which decides voting districts in Pennsylvania is really allowing politicians to choose their voters.
Courtesy: Channel 69 News

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Only because this is on the topic of your blog: Friend sent to us. Forwarding to you.

Casey’s lobbying inquiry
September 17th, 2010
Think this is a Chris Casey comment. Not sure though.

"I have filed two separate Right to Know requests with Harrisburg. In relation to that, I filed two Right to Know requests this afternoon with the Allentown City Solicitor…. To make a long story short, I requested a list of legislative employees from 2009 through this year for all currently elected members of the legislature from the Lehigh Valley.

Secondly, I asked for the logs of those same members that detail their interactions with lobbyists during that period. I asked for all local representatives, Republican and Democrat. It’s a matter of public record, and I think these records of who is influencing who should see a bit of daylight."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, That is what Chris Casey is doing.

Anonymous said...

man, being jenn's boyfriend sounds like tough duty. she will never acknowledge your relationship. when you go to events, more often than not you will go in different cars. you don't get a lot of opportunity to talk with her and there is no public display of affection whatsoever; then you will leave separately. who needs it ..unless you are a politico on the make and can cash in on her contacts.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:43 said:

"none of this info is used as an excuse for corrupt behavior. it is simply info to offer perspective."

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

I don't have a problem with Schweyer or anybody holding down a second job for their family.

But I do have a problem when a municipal (city) legislator is employed by another governmental entity (or a legislator from another governmental entity). There should be a clear separation of powers.

In Schweyer's case, suppose Vitetta would be bidding for work for the city. Would Schweyer treat it like any other contract or would he be advocating for his daytime boss (Mann)?

Hopefully in that case he'd treat it like any other contract but the dealings between state and local governments make conflicts of interest inevitable. Different levels of government often have very different priorities and needs.

This isn't as much a knock on Schweyer but a flaw in the system that needs to be corrected. No one can effectively serve two masters, nor should they be put in the position to.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'd agree that this is a flaw in the system. Mann did the right thing by approaching the ethics comm'n, but it had no idea that she was going to be involved with a company that does so much business with the state or other municipalities. They were never informed that her aide is himself a city concil member, which presents additional ethical problems.

I beliee the best solution is to prohibit public officials from "consulting" with any entities doing business with the government. No matter what steps are taken, it presents an appearance of impropriety.

Anonymous said...

"Schlossberg has been a special officer for social media employed by the LV Chamber."

& charging (bleeding) current chamber members for his slanted social media jibberish...

Anonymous said...

"Thank you for this information. What number of staffers per legislator is considered reasonable? Do they all have media directors like Mann, acording to some official who spoke with Bernie."

On that, there is little average. Bob Freeman has 2 district staff, which I think is the same number Mann has. Dwight Evans has like 10 district staff, which is funny b/c he's got a smaller geography. Freeman is a committee chair. Each committee has an Executive Director and some research staff. For Local Gov't, he probably has 3 staff that are committee staff, all controlled by the house leadership (can only be fired by the leadership, not Freeman). Anybody in the party leadership has a communications person. Some of the committee chairs have a communications person, but not all.

So that is one end of the spectrum. There is another end of the spectrum (read, party renagades and frosh) that share a receptionist with somebody else and have 2-3 district staff. These folks typically don't have staff to write letters to constituents. The Legislative Research Office, controlled by the leadership, writes those letters, if and only if the leadership tells the staff that it is okay to write letters for those representatives.

For what it is worth, both house/senate r's/d's operate a little differently but not much. Leadership controls staffing assignments.

Anonymous said...

I beliee the best solution is to prohibit public officials from "consulting" with any entities doing business with the government. No matter what steps are taken, it presents an appearance of impropriety.


Agree

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Thought we read Mann has seven staffers? Could be wrong. Two/three sounds pretty reasonable for any office to function.

eckville press said...

The "opinion of the commission" can be found here.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks, Eck. I linked to it on my blog as well.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Thought we read Mann has seven staffers?"

hat is what she tells me, but several may actually be employees of the caucus.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:19, Thanks for the informative comment. I think that needs to change.

Anonymous said...

bernie, when she told you that she didn't hve to disclose how much in consulting fees she receives . . . you should have followed up with "why don't you tell me anyway and put this behind us".

Bernie O'Hare said...

You're right. I'm a shitty interviewer. I was thinking of all kinds of questions I should have aked, but just let them slip away. I did not even say a word about the DGS.

Anonymous said...

"Sean Pressman could so much better"

Really, seriously? That little chubby cherub only has what he has been given in deference to his late father.

He like Mann are scion's of big government for life.

She could do much better than him.

Anonymous said...

9:14. Doesn't each City have a councilperson working for a Legislator?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yep.

Anonymous said...

Mann is no different than Samuelson and some of the others. All they are is recruiting offices for other pol's. Half the time you can't get any help because the so-called "staffer" is busy campaigning or working on another office.

A major reform would be for rep. employee's to not serve two masters and not hold public office.

Won't happen just like getting this mess resolved with Mann won't happen.

Anonymous said...

BS - Time to go. This relationship has to be disclosed. She needs to state exactly how much she gets from these relationships.

This is a "does a bear s*** in an outhouse?" kind of question. The answer is so obvious that it is an insult to have to even ask the question.

My opinion is changing of her and all those on her staff. Seems like hubris and greed claim another politician.

Can't she just not do this, or is the lure of extra cash and a possible position post political life too much to bear?

Those in the know state the relationship with this current political clown is alive and well.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Tony Ianelli really on city council?

Isn't Peter S. conflicted in his allegiances?

What masters do our city councilors serve?

What a pathetic mess!

Anonymous said...

Whoever runs for office with a platform to reduce the Pa. House by half is a landslide winner. Jen Mann's office is a joke. the state is millions in the red and it still supports a bloated, useless legislature that employs a bunch of arrogant, parasitic pols.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe folks are still riding the Jenn Mann had an affair with the Union guy truck. Jenn as a lesbian would not have wanted to do that, much less do it.

She was involved in the GALTF and has always been a real supporter.

Anonymous said...

i sincerely doubt pressman had meretricious relationship with mann. I believe he is a virgin.

Anonymous said...

you know bernie, your gatekeeper article above is completely undermined by the comments about pressman, mann and gawlick and their relationships. this is trashy crap. you know it but you have no problem publishing it b/c it keeps the scum coming back to drive up your numbers.

Anonymous said...

Knock off the lesbian BS. This is politics. Power dictates choice. It is a wonderful aphrodisiac except it makes one blind.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

If you want to make these accusations, identify yourself.

Anonymous said...

Nice O'Hare, you delete posts that defend Jenn's sexual preferences and shows your allegations to be baseless. Then you have the never to spin it by calling it an attack accusation.

You are pond scum.