Since the Allentown Morning Call first reported Saturday about a potentially improper earmark that Rep. Joe Sestak pushed, the Pat Toomey campaign has repeatedly hammered him while the Sestak campaign pleaded ignorance. At issue was the fact that a $350,000 earmark request for a wind turbine company in Sestak's district -- that ultimately wasn't approved -- was for a non-profit shell operation for a for-profit company. The House this year banned earmarks to for-profit companies.
Today, Sestak released to the Philadelphia Daily News the letter he wrote to the Department of Energy on behalf of the Thomas Paine Foundation, along with the organization's application. The letter -- written a month after the earmark request was submitted -- clearly links the non-profit to the for-profit New Way Energy LLC, also in Sestak's district. Drew Devitt was the sole officer for both.
Sestak told the Daily News that he "failed to catch in the letter" the connection between the non-profit and for-profit. "I just didn't put the two together," Sestak said. "It was my error."
Just a few days ago, Sestak told the Daily News: "Nowhere in the paperwork that he submitted did he ever mention that he was associated with a for-profit," Sestak said. "If now he's saying something else, then he should be held accountable for misrepresenting what he did."
Not quite. The application Devitt submitted does not make a clear link between the two firms, but does state: "Drew Devitt is a resident of the 7th Congressional District, and many of the employees of New Way Energy (which will manufacture the VAWT demonstration model) are located in the 7th District."
The Toomey camp, naturally, reacted with much glee.
“Over the past couple of days, Congressman Sestak has broken congressional rules, misled the public about his involvement in the violation, and tried to funnel hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to a tiny atheist group to build a wind turbine demonstration project with which it had no experience,” Toomey spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik said in an email. “Many questions remain about which story is the real one, why Congressman Sestak tried to cover it up, and whether Pennsylvania taxpayers can trust anything Congressman Sestak says.”
CORRECTION 5:34 p.m.: The above post has been edited to reflect that Devitt's application did not mention the connection between The Thomas Paine Foundation and New Way Energy and thus Sestak's quote to the Daily News was not innaccurate.
CORRECTION 9:15 p.m.: The above post has been once again edited to reflect the fact that Devitt's application did, in fact, obliquely mention the connection between the two firms. Blame your correspondent's reading comprehension for this one.