|Ron Angle with 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.