Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Atiyeh Backed a Loser

Ron Angle with Scott Parsons
In his unsuccessful bid for a fourth term on County Council, Republican Ron Angle spent $51,243.96. For those of you keeping track at home, he spent $11.92 for each of the 4,297 votes he garnered in his Slate Belt district race against Scott Parsons.

During the campaign, he caught a lot of heat (and bad publicity) as a result of a $3,000 contribution he accepted from GEO, which wanted to bring a private detention center for illegal immigrants to Upper Mount Bethel Township. In 2010, he accepted $500 from Eckert Seamans, the law firm hired to expedite Gracedale's sale. In addition, he raked in $2,000 from an Abe Atiyeh business partner, who at the time was negotiating for a treatment center with the County.

Before this election cycle, Angle mostly relied on small donations from people and businesses within his district, along with an occasional conservative PAC. But when I saw he was receiving contributions from potential County contractors, I discussed it with him. "I wouldn't sell my vote for $500 or $50,000," he barked. And I believe him. But it's pretty obvious that that many people were suspicious, and registered that suspicion at the polls.

Angle listens to his own drummer. His post-election report reveals that, in the waning days of the campaign, he accepted another $3,000 from Abe Atiyeh and his connections (Ramzi Haddad and Keen Kapoor).

Two days after the election, Charles Chrin gave Angle a $1,000 consolation prize. Maybe he felt sorry for him.

I believe County contractors and employees should be barred from making contributions in county-wide races, and have urged this reform since I began blogging, with no success. Although there are strict limits imposed on federal candidates like Charlie Dent, there's nothing to stop the Abe Atiyehs, Lee Butz' or Nic Zawarskis of this world from giving someone $1 million to run for local or state office.

Before you decide to dump all over Angle for what is clearly pay-to-play, look at his successful opponent, Scott Parsons.

Scott spent nowhere near the amount of money that Angle did. Altogether, he spent only $20,356.04. That's $4.09 for each of his 4,970 votes, a much better deal than Angle.

But like Ron, Parsons accepted money from special interests, too. He raked in $1,500 from union PACS, including an asbestos union in a County with asbestos complaints. He accepted money (in small sums) from County workers like Assistant Solicitor Jill Mancini and Solicitor Karl Longenbach.

About 10% of Parsons's money came from potential contractors or employees. For Ron, the incumbent, it was about 17%.

So condemn Angle if you like, but if you want to be consistent, you must condemn Scott Parsons, too. While you're at it, you must also condemn Lamont McClure, who accepted $1,000 from USW, a bargaining unit at Gracedale.

The truth is that, like it or not, they are all playing by he rules. What we need, and will likely never see in my lifetime, is a campaign finance reform that bars anyone who makes a contribution from doing business with that county, whether as a contractor or as an employee.

It's why John Stoffa refused to accept any money from anyone.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since County government formed, County employees have gotten involved in county elections whether it be through donations or, in many cases volunteering for the campaigns. They'd be crazy not to..They have the most to win or lose on these elections..John Stoffa had a number of county employees assisting him with his first, and I'm sure, subsequent elections. Stoffa, a county employee also if you hadn't noticed, endorsed Barrron's opponent and Ron Angle in this past election according to you..So even if he didnt donate directly he certainly tried to make an impact by endorsing candidates..I'm sure he felt he had his reasons for that as did most county employees endorsing or financially supporting candidates. Also, these employees take the chance, of alienating the candidates that do win if it's not the candidates they have supported.That can be a big risk as John may have found out in the latest budget discussions..I might agree with you on the issue of contractors but to say employees shouldn't be able to donate either money or time (which sometime is worth more than monetary donations) to county campaigns is just silly..

Anonymous said...

any prohibition against donors you can come up with, i'll find a way around it.

disclosure and transparency is the answer

Anonymous said...

Whatever happend in the Bethlehem Township elections with Atiyeh? Were there not people running that were fully supported by him?

Anonymous said...

Almost all politicians are different heads of the same ass. So Angle was sleazy like the rest of them. There's breaking news. Almost all are like this. It makes all the more curious your occasional fawning support for selected pols, from big leaguers like John Edwards to bush leaguers like Angle and Morganelli. Most will eventually disappoint.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:39, I would not include "elected officials" among those who would be barred from contributing to candidates. But the rest should not e permitted to contribute. It would lead to more professionalism and less cronyism. I don't consider that silly at all.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"any prohibition against donors you can come up with, i'll find a way around it."

Legitimate point.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Two comments, which of course go too far and get too nasty, question the donation made by Chrin two days after the election, as though that's a crime. But I see the practice frequently, from Callahan to Cunningham to Angle to just about everyone who raises any real money.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"So Angle was sleazy like the rest of them. There's breaking news. Almost all are like this"

I don't think it is sleazy, but don't like the practice of accepting money from potential or actual contractors or people who work for the county or who are looking for a job. It is completely legal. What kills me is that some people will cast a spotlight on someone like Angle, while someone like McClure gets a pass. If it's legal but wrong, as I think, then the spotlight should be cast on them all.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am deleting comments posted by "Zorn the great." I am tired of his negativism, his constant insults to everyone, his poor spelling and poor grammar.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Whatever happend in the Bethlehem Township elections with Atiyeh? Were there not people running that were fully supported by him?"

Two of his candidates - Zawarski and Barnard - won. His wife failed at the polls. So he's two for three in BT.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bernie for the Zorn the great deletions..Bout time..

Tom Foolery said...

I can understand the issue with Contractors but with the employees it's kind of a chicken or the egg senario..My guess is that steelworkers donated to McClure because of his strong support for Gracedale and union employees, not necessarily because they expect favors from him..Many unions supported Scott Parsons because he wasn't Ron Angle..I mean , seriously, if you are going to spend much of your time on Council attacking unionized employees you shouln't be shocked if the unions support your opponent. Honestly, this is a strong executive type government..Employee support for a councilman here or there isn't going to have a big impact on how County government is run..

Bernie O'Hare said...

But it is the Councils who approve union-negotiated contracts.

I have always felt there should be a restriction against anyone who contributes to a municipal candidate, that bars him from doing business with that municipality for a limited period. In addition, like judicial employees, I feel that all municipal employees should be prohibited from making contributions as a condition of their employment. It's the only way to guarantee professionalism and prevent cronyism.

I am well aware that my view is a minority view.

Tom Foolery said...

Yes, Council does approve union negotiated contracts but only when the Executive has already given it his approval..Although I believe the present Council has done it once, overturning a contract that has already been agreed upon by the executive is extremely rare to my knowledge..Honestly Bernie, if an employee couldn't directly donate money, I'm sure they could find a way to get it to a candidate. Would they also not be able to donate time? You are right, it would be a tough sell either way..Again, with the issue of contractors , I'm in total agreement..

Bernie O'Hare said...

Someone has twice attempted to post the same comment. It defends Parsons by attacking Angle. This is intellectually dishonest and way too personal. I'll allow the comment, but you'll have to give me your real name.

Chris Miller said...

How about this for a solution. Term limit all offices and shorten the campaign season. Why should anyone be sitting on a board of supervisors for 30 years. Why was Ron on council for 12 years? I believe a lot of others would run if they knew they had a chance. Having a cemented in place pol no matrer the level is onerous to a lot of people including those willing to put in the time and effort and thus they will not run

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'd try it.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, your points are well-taken. Question, though; would you extend your restrictions to include "in-kind contributions?" This would be one of the loopholes an earlier poster alluded to. It was the case with Atiyeh and his signs for Stoffa, and I'm sure is the case in many mailers on behalf of other candidates. Also, I'd like to hear your thoughts regarding contributions from family members of employees.
John

Bernie O'Hare said...

That was not an in-kind contribution, as Stoffa never authorized it. It was an independent expenditure by Atiyeh, over which Stoffa had no control.

I agree there could be many loopholes, and it would have to be crafted carefully. But there's no real push for it, either. Aside from me and a few others, people seem to enjoy $20,000 contributions.

Anonymous said...

Term limits are achieved by the simple process of having an election. When people grow weary of their representation they can go to the poles and vote someone new in. NORCO has no one on council now that has been there more than 6 years straight (or close to that) and the people spoke and changed direction. Term limits only make "good effective people" step down early and does not allow the people a voice as to wether or not they want that person representing them.

Anonymous said...

Ken is right..Unlike the Federal and State legislators who have gerrymandered seats and unlimited funds that keep them nice and secure until they die, local legislators generally have to work to get elected when they get opponents. Since most are part time, it generally takes them a term to get comfortable in the job..Makes no sense to term limit local officials. If they follow a path the voters disagree with, the voters will limit their terms.

Anonymous said...

Allegedly, Stoffa never OK-ed it. You are funny O'Hare Stoffa never OK-ed it like Dietrich never wrote a note, right?

Chris Miller said...

Ken Kraft
Your argument while valid at one time, is no longer the case. Poll after poll over the years shows us that the folks complain about government at all levels yet their representative is a great guy. We have people at the local level who have been in office and at the public teat for decades. Elections do not eliminate government officials. How long has Dent been in office or Harry Reid Look at the likes of Maxine Waters and then look at her district. How about Charlie Rangle and his now leaving buddy, Barney Frank who had a ton of years in the House. Look at the damage these inept fools have done to the nation. Our Founders did not see political office as a life long profession.

Anonymous said...

Chris Miller said..

See Anon 1:58pm

I think he said the same thing without name calling, etc

Anonymous said...

Notice how Chris Miller focuses on three black and one gay Democrats. Nice one Chris. I hope those public payed pension checks are working out for you.

Pete