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Feds announce McCord charges, plea deal

Published by Mike Pound on .

Rob McCord

Former Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord will plead guilty to two federal extortion charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced this afternoon. The charges are significant -- they each carry a maximum sentence of a $250,000 fine and imprisonment of 20 years, followed by three years of probation. Mr. McCord is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 17; in the meantime, you can take a look at the details of the plea agreement and a court document detailing the facts of the case -- as presented by federal prosecutors and agreed to by Mr. McCord -- both of which are attached to Kate Giammarise's story about the charges.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

(Associated Press photo)(Associated Press photo)

1) President Obama unveils his 2016 budget today. We know a lot of what it's going to contain, starting with the rollbacks of the spending caps imposed a couple years ago when the sequester that was supposed to be so bad that it wouldn't happen happened because of Washington's inability to get anything done.

2) Mr. Obama will be pushing Republicans on Capitol Hill to take up budget proposals; meanwhile, Vice President Biden has been pushing Democrats to take credit for the improving economy.

3) Another interesting thing we might see from Washington this week: a move by the Federal Communications Commission to re-classify broadband Internet service as a utility, which would give the FCC the ability to impose tighter regulations on those service providers. That proposal would come on the heels of a change to how broadband is defined by the FCCand after a change of heart for the commission's leader.

4) Rather than focusing on the Super Bowl victory by the Evil Empire in Boston, let's take a minute to consider dancing sharks.

5) Don't forget your booties, because it's cooooold out there today.

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Poll: Pennsylvania loves Punxsutawney Phil

Published by Mike Pound on .

Punxsutawney Phil in 2008. (Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)Punxsutawney Phil in 2008. (Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

In the heat of last year's gubernatorial race, we developed a real fondness for a good polling post. And, frankly, we've missed those looks at polling figures.

But thanks to our friends at Public Policy Polling in Raleigh, N.C., we have a chance to write about a poll that's both timely and significant.

It's about Punxsutawney Phil.

In less than 24 hours from now, members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club will haul Phil out of his stump, so the planet's most famous Marmota monax can tell us what's up with the remaining six weeks of winter.

The part that involves polls? We love the little guy, even if we don't trust his weather forecasting abilities. PPP spoke to just over 1,000 voters in Pennsylvania, presumably to ask questions that have nothing at all to do with voting. The results, as they pertain to Groundhog Day?

Fifty-nine percent of us have a favorable opinion of Phil, while 12 percent of us – professional meteorologists bitter about the attention paid to a rodent, we assume – have a negative opinion. But relax, weather-forecasting people – just 8 percent of those surveyed said the whole seeing-his-shadow thing is a reliable predictor of the weather.

Who should be concerned? Here's where we justify an Early Returns blog post about Punxsutawney Phil – a full 50 percent of those polled said they thought Phil would do a better job than most current members of Congress.

Ouch. Mitt Romney avoided inserting himself in a political version of Groundhog Day last week; maybe it's time to see how a real rodent would fare on the ballot?

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BREAKING: McCord admits to strong-arming donors, resigns immediately

Published by Mike Pound on .

Now we know.

State Treasurer Rob McCord will plead guilty to federal charges related to strong-arming potential campaign donors and resign his post effective immediately, according to a video statement the Philadelphia resident released today.

A statement from Mr. McCord's attorneys, at Welsh & Recker in Philadelphia, elaborates:

Mr. McCord will be pleading guilty to certain federal charges to be filed arising out of his attempts in the spring of 2014 to raise campaign contributions from two potential contributors by communicating that if they failed to make campaign contributions, he could make it difficult for them to do business with the Commonwealth.

There is no suggestion that Treasurer McCord stole or misused campaign funds.

Immediately upon being contacted by federal agents about these matters, Mr. McCord acknowledged that he had overstepped the line of legitimate political fundraising.

Keep checking back at post-gazette.com for updates.

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Romney won't reprise presidential run in 2016

Published by Mike Pound on .

Mitt Romney (Associated Press photo)Mitt Romney (Associated Press photo)

Your move, Jeb Bush.

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