Print

Wolf plays defense on plagiarism

Published by James O'Toole on .

The Wolf campaign for governor acknowledged lifting passages from an industry report and including them in its campaign platform as rivals tried to leverage the incident to raise questions about his front-running candidacy.

A spokesman for the York businessman’s campaign said they had fired the staffer responsible for the plagiarism in its issues platform, dubbed, “A Fresh Start.’’ He said the campaign was conducting an internal review to determine if there were other instances of unattributed borrowings in the text of the platform, or in any other campaign materials. The campaign declined to identify the terminated staffer. The material in question involved fairly innocuous observations about the virtues of energy conservation.

In a statement, Mr. Wolf said, “I have directed the staff to make sure nothing like this ever happens again and have asked for a new process to be put in place to ensure it does not.’’

Mark Nicastre, a spokesman for the campaign said, “We collected great ideas from all different sources for the Fresh Start plan - the public sector, the private sector and not-for-profits. This plan specifically cites more than 20 references throughout the 46-page document to other studies and articles that served as some of the foundation to our plan. It was important to us to give credit where credit was due. The language that has been pointed out should never have appeared in the manner in which it did. We are putting processes in place to make sure this does not happen again. This was a mistake and we regret it.’’

The public contrition didn’t satisfy all of his rivals. A spokesman for the campaign of Rep. Allyson Schwartz, which first publicized the incident Thursday, demanded that Mr. Wolf return a campaign contribution from an executive of Johnson Controls, the energy firm whose reports were the source of the language grafted into the campaign document.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Richard Sestak R.I.P.

Published by James O'Toole on .

Early Returns sends its condolences to the Sestak family on the sad news of the death of Richard Sestak.  Mr. Sestak, 54, died of cancer.  He was the architect of the congressional victories of his brother, former Rep. Joe Sestak.  As his campaign manager, he overcame the clout of the state's Democratic establishment as his brother won the Democratic Senate nomination over former Sen. Arlen Specter in 2010.  Joe Sestak went on to lose the general election to Sen. Pat Toomey, but, against that year's overwhelming Republican tide, the race was a squeaker, with the retired admiral running ahead of Toomey until well into the evening.  Here's the obituary from the Inquirer.

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Perry on Politics: Dole returns

Published by James O'Toole on .

                                                    James M. Perry

Bob Dole has been touring Kansas these days on what he calls a "gratitude tour." Kansans have greeted him warmly, as if their favorite old grandpa had come to town.

 Make no mistake, though. Bob Dole, at 90 years of age, is one tough old bird.

Dole, for many years a Kansas senator and the losing candidate for president in 1996, grew up in Russell. a small Kansas prairie town where I discovered on a reporting trip that, slightly to my amazement,  they used recycled sewage to water the golf course. He was a tall, movie-star handsome young man, a star athlete at the local high school and a soda jerk at the local drug store.

He enlisted in the army in World War II and found himself a lieutenant and a platoon leader in the slightly elite 10th Mountain Division in Italy in April 1945. He and his platoon were pinned down by German gunfire near Castel d'Aiano not far from Bologna when shells tore into his right shoulder and right arm. Comrades shoved and rolled him to a foxhole and a medic gave him a huge shot of morphine and wrote the letter M on his forehead in his own blood to alert others they shouldn't give him any more.

His rehabilitation (seven or eight operations) and convalescence back in the United States must have seemed almost endless. Much of his time was spent at a military hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, that is now named the Hart-Dole-Inouye Medical Center. Dole and two other future senators, Philip Hart and Daniel Inouye, were all treated there for war wounds. Dole's friends back In Russell dropped contributions in an old cardboard box at the drug store to help pay for his bills. Dole still has the box.

He never regained the use of his right arm, and his left arm is sometimes painful.

 He wasn't sure when he got back from the war whether he was a Republican or a Democrat. He settled on Republican because he thought he'd do better with Republicans. He served in those early days as a state representative and as county attorney for Russell County (he'd recently earned his law degree). He was elected to the U.S. House for the first time in 1960 and the Senate for the first time in 1968.  

 He was always conservative, but he knew when to deal with Democrats. He and George McGovern, for example,  worked together to help American farmers and to lower eligibility requirements for food stamps, even though McGovern was anathema to most of his GOP colleagues. Dole voted for the civil rights acts of 1964 and 1965. 

 For reasons not entirely clear to me, he formed an early attachment to Richard Nixon. "I got along very well with President Nixon," he once said. "We were friends in the good times and bad."  Maybe it was because Nixon was one of the few men in Washington to reach out with his left hand to shake Dole's left hand. Dole soon gained a reputation as a hatchet man, willing to do almost anything to defend the embattled president. His fellow senator, Wiliam Saxbe, famously observed that Dole had become so antagonistic "he couldn't sell beer on a troop ship." 

 Dole was the Republican national chairman as the Watergate scandal unfolded, and supported the President right to the bitter end. The day Nixon resigned, Aug. 9, 1974, Dole never emerged from his inner office.

 He was Gerald Ford's running mate in 1976, and in a debate with Jimmy Carter's vice president, Walter Mondale, said that "if we added up all the killed and wounded in Democrat wars in this century, it would be about 1.6 million Americans -- enough to fill the city of Detroit."  That ugly remark was not well-received. 

 But there is a soft side to Bob Dole. He visited wounded soldiers and Purple Heart veterans wherever he could find them, and  in one of these visits I could see tears come to his eyes as he talked quietly to one of them. He, more than anyone else, spearheaded the drive to build a World War 2 memorial on the mall.   

 And then he has always had this caustic sense of humor. My favorite Dole dart was when his attention was drawn to a photograph of Presidents Carter, Ford, and Nixon. "See no evil," he said, "hear no evil, and evil."

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, is contributing regular observations for post-gazette.com. . Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Schwartz presses rivals on ACA

Published by James O'Toole on .

Rep. Allyson Schwartz convened a conference call Wednesday, amplifying the message of a new commercial that touts her role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act , while questioning the depth of commitment to the law among her Democratic rivals.

The Schwartz commercial points to her role, as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, in pushing for the enactment of the landmark health care law.  It also faults Gov. Corbett for failing to embrace the Medicaid expansion that is part of the law. The Corbett administration is negotiating with the federal government with the aim of gaining the new Medicaid dollars, but using them for a premium support program that would allow recipients to purchase insurance privately.

In her conversation with reporters yesterday, Schwartz questioned the positions of her three rivals, suggesting that they had not been sufficiently outspoken in favor of the law. In particular, she suggested that York County businessman Tom Wolf had displayed “a little vagueness’’ in discussing the measure.

At a brief news conference in Pittsburgh the previous day, however, Mr. Wolf reiterated his support for the law and said he would do “anything in my power,’’ to promote full implementation.

"There's not a dime's worth of difference between Rob McCord and Allyson Schwartz on the Affordable Care Act.  If voters are looking for a real difference between the candidates, they should look at their drillers' tax proposals,’’ said Mark Nevins, a spokesman for the state treasurer’s campaign. He referred to the fact that Schwartz has called for a 5 percent extraction tax on natural gas while Mr. McCord has proposed a 10 percent levy.

Mike Mikus, Katie McGinty’s campaign manager, said she, too had said repeatedly that she was fully committed to the law. Mikus said that it was Schwartz who had suggested changes in the law, including a repeal of its tax on medical devices.  He also cited criticisms Schwartz has voiced on its creation of an Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel charged with containing the costs of Medicare.

"Katie McGinty has always been a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, including the establishment of a Pennsylvania health care exchange,''' Mikuss said. "She has repeatedly criticized Governor Corbett for his failure to expand Medicaid.  Congresswoman Schwartz’s statement is mind boggling since Congresswoman Schwartz is the only  Democratic gubernatorial candidate who has supported legislation that would weaken the Affordable Care Act while also endangering Medicare.”

Schwartz acknowledged in her call that she had taken issue with some details of the law but emphasized her support for its overall provisions and reminded reporters that no one else in the race had been involved in the legislative process that produced it.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Wolf stumps in Bloomfield

Published by James O'Toole on .

York County businessman Tom Wolf wandered from store to shop to church to store in Bloomfield Tuesday, campaigning for the Democratic nomination for governor.  He was accompanied by two of his more prominent local supporters, both of whom know the territory well.  County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who grew up in the neighborhood, started the tour at Dan Cercone's barber shop on Liberty Avenue.

They were soon joined by Mayor Bill Peduto, who represented the community during his years on city council. The gray stubble of Mr. Peduto's playoff beard matched Mr. Wolf's own neatly trimmed beard.

Greeting the Democrats, and helping to lead the tour of Pittsburgh's Little Italy was Jane Cercone Scullion, the president of the Bloomfield Citizens' Council, who presented him with the history of the neighborhood that she wrote.  At another stop, at the Groceria Italiana, the trio shared a peperoni roll the size of a catcher's mitt. 

In the Paddy Cake Bakery, they ran into Debbie Pekich Demchek, of Lawrenceville, who recognized Mr. Wolf from his many commercials.  "You're the one I decided to vote for,'' she said.  "I'm liking eveything you're doing.

Near the end of the brief tour, Mr. Peduto led them to a spot outside the parish house of St Maria Goretti's Church, to view the memorial to three police officers killed in a 2009  shooting in Stanton Heights.

Two of Mr. Wolf's Democratic rivals, Katie McGinty and state Treasurer Rob McCord, were to meet later Tuesday a few miles away at a panel organized by a variety of African-American organizations, but the Wolf campaign said that he had a schedule conflict and would miss the event.

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.