Casey's ready for Hillary

Published by James O'Toole on .

Sen. Bob Casey alerted his supporters Friday that he's lined up behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's newly oficial bid for the Democratic nomination for president.   In an email blast, he stated that from the time they served together in teh Senate, he's know her as "a strong advocate for the middle class.''

Eight years ago, Mr. Casey went in a different direction and offered a surprise endorsment of then Sen. Barack Obama before heading out with the future president on a bus trip across the state.  That was the year that the accident of the campaign calendar made Pennsylvania the center of American politics for six weeks with no other major contests to distract the attention fo the candiates or the national media.  Mr. Casey's backing wasn't enough to deliver the state's delegates to Mr. Obama, who was clobbered here by a resurgent Clinton campaign.  After he secured the nomination, however, he went on to win the state's electoral votes in a landslide.

In contrast to his 2008 decision, Mr. Casey's new endorsement was hardly surprising, given Mrs. Clinton's overwhelming lead in the early Democratic race.  Nonetheless, it could be seen as a tacit rebuff
 to his onetime Scranton neighbor, Vice President Joe Biden, who has not ruled out the possibility of jumping into the race.



MPF up with first television ads

Published by James O'Toole on .

Mark Patrick Flaherty is up with the first ad of the county controller's race.  It's a mainly positive spot, extollinging his record as the former controller, and spotlighting the fact that he declined to take a pay raise during his eight years in office.

  If you've been following the race _ Show of hands? Anyone? _ you know that that's a reference to his campaign's regular criticism of the incumbent, Chelsa Wagner, for accepting the cost-of-living increases provided by law, which boosted her salary from the $66,000 paid to Mr. Flaherty to the $96,580 rate which Ms. Wagner is paid along with other county row officers.  The new ad doesn't mention Ms Wagner by name but state that Mr. Flaherty conducted "more audits for less pay than the current controller.''

According to the Flaherty campaign, the spot began airing on brodacast and cable television Friday.  Ms. Wagner has yet to launch her own television advertising.   According to Mike Mikus, a strategist for Mr. Flaherty, the challengers campaign will remiain on the airwaves from now until the May 18 primary when Democratic voters will choose their nominee for the office.  The broadcast station portion of the initial buy totals just under $60,000
  Here's a look at the MPF message:


Toomey: No on Lynch

Published by James O'Toole on .

President Barack Obama listens at right as US Attorney Loretta Lynch speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, where the president announced he would nominate Lynch to replace Attorney General Eric Holder. (Associated Press photo)

Sen. Pat Toomey voted against Thursday's confirmation of Attorney General Loretta Lynch. While he praised her background and overall qualifications, the Republican said her defense of President Barack Obama's controversial executive order on immigration made her unacceptable choice. He maintained her position, like ther president's, was at odds with the Constitution.

Sen. Bob Casey joined all of his Democratic colleagues in voting for confirmation.

In a statement that offered a potential preview of the debate in next year's Senate race, his former and would-be future opponent, retired Admiral Joe Sestak, denounced the Republican's vote, contending that spotlighted an "obstructionist'' record that belies the first-term senator's claim to be a figure who works across party lines. Whether or not Mr. Sestak will be able to repeat that criticism on next year's campaign trail is unclear. He has at least one rival for the 2016 Democratic Senate nomination -- Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski -- and other Democratic contenders may be waiting in the wings.  

Mr. Toomey's statment explaining his vote can be found after the jump, along with a critique from the Sestak campaign.


Pots and Kettles

Published by James O'Toole on .

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner, left, and challenger Mark Patrick Flaherty speak April 16, 2015, during their appearances in front of the Post-Gazette's editorial board. (Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner, left, and challenger Mark Patrick Flaherty speak April 16, 2015, during their appearances in front of the Post-Gazette's editorial board. (Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)

County Controller Chelsa Wagner has maintained that county Executive Rich Fitzgerald has mixed public business with politics -- charges that her fellow Democrat has repeatedly denied.

Now, her challenger's campaign is charging that the controller is the one exploiting her office for political interests, in utilizing a recent controller's office employee as her campaign manager. In a press release, Mike Mikus, a campaign consultant for Mark Patrick Flaherty, questioned the fact that Paul McKrell has taken a leave of absence from the controller's payroll to work for his boss' re-election.

"Did Chelsa use taxpayer funds to warehouse her campaign manager in her official office, so that he would be available to manage her re-election campaign,'' Mr. Mikus said in a press release."If he was a valued employee of the controller's office, why would Controller Wagner have him take a leave of absence when he has been on the job for a short period of time?''

Mr. Flaherty and Ms. Wagner are vying for the Democratic nomination for controller. A spokesman for the incumbent dismissed the Mikus statement.

"This is really a desperate attempt to deflect attention from the fact that Mark Patrick Flaherty is receiving bags of cash from the county executive he is expected to audit,'' said Brad Korinski,  a spokesman for the Wagner campaign, referring to the fact that Mr. Flaherty is supported by Mr. Fitzgerald. "McKrell worked for her for 6 months ... he was certainly not warehoused,'' he continued.

Mr. McKrell has said he expects to return to the controller's staff after the campaign. Of course, whether or not he's successful in his current role will determine how long that employment opportunity continues to be available.


'Settling family business,' Jesse White style

Published by Janice Crompton on .

Jesse White (John Heller/Post-Gazette)Jesse White (John Heller/Post-Gazette)

Former state representative and current district justice candidate Jesse White of Cecil has filed a flurry of civil lawsuits against a host of his enemies today, alleging defamation and commercial disparagement.

In non-lawyer speak, that means Mr. White, 36, a lawyer, is suing his enemies and blaming them for the loss of his legislative seat and clients.

"Today I settled all family business so don't tell me that you're innocent," Mr. White announced of his Facebook page, quoting character Michael Corleone in "The Godfather."

Among those targeted is KDKA's Marty Griffin for a segment called the "ABJ (Anybody but Jesse) Hour," in the days before the May 20, 2014 primary election.

Mr. White won that contest against fellow Democrat Tom Casciola, but it didn't stop him from adding Mr. Casciola's name to his litigious list.

Mr. Casciola was sued, along with local daily newspaper The Observer-Reporter in Washington and community group Concerned Citizens of the 46th District for a headline declaring him "guilty" in a civil trial over accusations that he defamed a local Democratic committeeman.

Mr. White lost the general election to Republican newcomer Jason Ortitay. He faced a tough re-election battle, in part, due to accusations that he targeted his enemies on social media, impersonating some and calling others names.

Also sued today was lawyer Charles Kurowski, who represented Mr. White's mother, Sharlene Watazychyn. She sued her son in Februrary, alleging that he stole her identity and opened a credit card account in her name. Ms. Watazychyn said Mr. White racked up nearly $30,000 in debt and that she discovered the card when she attempted to refinance a mortgage. Mr. White vigorously denied those charges and said police had already investigated his mother's claims and found no evidence of a crime.

In each of the lawsuits, Mr. White is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

On his Facebook page, Mr. White said he felt the time was right to take a stand.

"The truth about my actions has been washed away by an ugly rhetoric that bears little resemblance to reality," he said. "The lies have been repeated so many times that people began to accept them as truth, which seriously damaged my reputation in the community I am proud to call my home. Today I finally begin to fight back."

View a copy of the lawsuits at: