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McCaffey fires back with apology

Published by Mike Pound on .

judgesPa. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille, left, and Justice Seamus McCaffery. (Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)

First: Seamus McCaffery is sorry.

Second: Think the feud between Justice McCaffery and Chief Justice Ronald Castille could be left to cool down in the weeks before Justice Castille retires? Forget about it.

One day after Justice Castille, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Justice McCaffery sent or received more than 200 sexually explicit emails, Justice McCaffery issued a statement covering two main points – apologizing for his involvement in the scandal and tearing into the state's top jurist.

The first part:

I served my country proudly in the United States Marine Corps. I served my city proudly as an Officer of the Philadelphia Police Department. Coarse language and crude jokes permeated both ranks. That's not an excuse, just a fact. Unfortunately, personal, private emails between me and some longtime friends were never meant to be viewed by anyone else, but they were. I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment. I erred and if I offended anyone, I am truly sorry.

The second part:

This latest cooked-up controversy over my personal emails is part of a vindictive pattern of attacks by the soon-to-be-retired Chief Justice, Ronald Castille. He is fixated on taking down a fellow justice with his misleading statements and incredible hypocrisy. Isn't it time for the press to ask the real question? Why is the Chief Justice fixated on hurling one accusation after another at me, in an ongoing attempt to discredit me?

Ron Castille's statement yesterday, issued on AOPC (Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts) letterhead and purporting to represent the position of the entire Supreme Court, was a lie. In fact, members of the Supreme Court did not even know about the statement until they read the publication. And it is only the latest lie in the Chief Justice's egomaniacal mission to 'get me.' His mission began when he reported me to the Federal Bureau of Investigation over my wife's legitimate receipt of referral fees, and that didn't work. He has done everything possible within our Court to undermine me with my colleagues, and that didn't work. Now, with only two months left in the hourglass of his tenure on our Court, he is trying to finish what he has been trying to do for so many years. He has been on this mission because I had the guts to challenge him on the Family Court fiasco and on what the citizens of Pennsylvania got for the more than $3 million of First Judicial District funds that were funneled to one of his closest friends. And I had the guts to challenge him on his disastrous handling of Pennsylvania's worst judicial scandal and a tragic injustice that will forever be known as the 'Kids for Cash' disaster.

Does the flap end here? Not likely. There isn't anything illegal about adults sharing adult pornography (as opposed to the kind that features minors, which has not been alleged in this case) but it could be a violation of use policies for state-owned computers, and Castille has implied that any judges involved in the scandal could be in violation of the state's Code of Judicial Conduct. Justice Castille is approaching the court's mandatory retirement age and has just a few weeks left on the bench – but that's plenty of time for this dispute to boil over even further.

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The ridiculousness never ends

Published by Mike Pound on .

Seamus McCafferyJustice Seamus McCaffery

The scandal over the pornographic emails that circulated though the Tom Corbett-led attorney general's office earned the race between now-Gov. Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf a spot on the Washington Post's list of the most ridiculous campaigns in the country.

On Wednesday, the ridiculousness continued, probably to the undying irritation of Mr. Corbett.

Not long after the news about the emails broke, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille said he wanted to know if any judges or justices had been involved in the extensive email chain. Early reports, initially by the Morning Call, pointed a finger at Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery, saying he sent or received at least eight of the racy messages from a personal computer to an unnamed recipient in the attorney general's office. McCaffery denied involvement in the scandal.

Turns out that number might have been a bit conservative.

Justice Castille said on Wednesday that McCaffery sent or received 234 messages; those contained a total of 1,502 explicit images and 60 explicit videos. McCaffery has yet to comment, and the statement from the Supreme Court that outlined the details said only that the matter is under further review.

There are two things to think about here. First, we have to think this will be the source of further deterioration in the relationship between Justices Castille and McCaffery, a relationship that wasn't especially good to begin with.

And it means, once again, that any hopes on the part of Mr. Corbett of putting this scandal to bed anytime soon – like, say, before the Nov. 4 election – look more dim every day. Mr. Wolf – who continues to hold a double-digit lead with under three weeks to go – probably doesn't need the help of an October Surprise to win the governor's seat. That he got one anyway – and that there is no end in sight – is bad news for the governor.

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Casey joins Men in Blazers to discuss FIFA scandal

Published by Tracie Mauriello on .

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Judging by his performance in the U.S. Senate staff softball league, Bob Casey isn’t the kind of guy you’d expected to be a panelist on any kind of sports program.

Nonetheless, he is a featured guest on today’s NBC Sports’ Men in Blazers podcast, where he discusses his push for FIFA to release an internal ethics investigation into the process used to award Qatar the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

The Federation Internationale de Football Association made the decision in 2010, prompting accusations that bribery and corruption influenced the decision to hold the tournament in a country where the climate is hot, homosexuality is illegal and slave labor is tolerated.

“Even beyond the question of labor issues or corruption issues now it’s kind of come down to a very basic issue of transparency, and that’s something I think anyone can understand,” said Mr. Casey, the first sitting U.S. lawmaker interviewed on the show by hosts who go by the names Devo and Rog.

"I think it’s good you guys have nicknames. You should hear what people call me,” Mr. Casey quipped. “You probably can’t say it on the air.”

Listen to the podcast here. Find Mr. Casey’s remarks beginning at the 50:15 mark in the 70-minute podcast.

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White calls out opponent on ad's 'blatant lie'

Published by Janice Crompton on .

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State Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, is accusing his Republican challenger of fabricating a claim in a recent television campaign ad and mailer.

Mr. White says the assertion in Jason Ortitay's ad that he "supports a 40% income tax increase," is a "blatant lie."

The commercial cites a story in The Morning Call on Aug. 7, but Mr. White's campaign said there were no stories on that day that match the claim.

"In political campaigns, there are exaggerations, and then there are lies," said a statement from Mr. White. "The ads being run by Jason Ortitay include blatant lies about my positions, falsely citing a newspaper that didn't even print my name that day,"

Mr. White said he has never voted in favor of a tax increase in his five terms in office.

"Jason Ortitay uses the words 'honesty' and 'integrity' on his yard signs, maybe he should go back to school and learn what those words actually mean. I am calling on Ortitay to either verify his false citation or pull the commercial from the airwaves immediately," Mr. White said. "It's time for Jason Ortitay to stop hiding behind negative ads and lies and be accountable to the voters."

Mr. Ortitay could not be reached for comment.

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It's official: we're ridiculous

Published by Mike Pound on .

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At least we're in good company.

The Fix, the Washington Post's political blog, issued a list on Tuesday outlining the nine most ridiculous campaigns of 2014 – and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone here that The Battling Toms made the list.

Specifically, the scandal over pornographic emails that circulated through the office of the state attorney general while Gov. Tom Corbett served that post is what attracted the attention of the Post and, really, who can blame them? It's already forced several resignations – Randy Feathers, a former prosecutor who was appointed by Mr. Corbett to the state parole board, is the latest – prompted an investigation by the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and forced Mr. Corbett to spend as much time talking about porn as he does energy policy or pension reform. And while Mr. Corbett squirms, his challenger, Democrat Tom Wolf, can sit back and look concerned while clucking about things like leadership and setting the tone from the top.

And that was good enough to rate the race between The Battling Toms as the eighth most ridiculous race in the country. For the sake of context: what other campaigns made the list? They are all doozies, but we're especially fond of a couple, starting with this, from the race for Texas lieutenant governor:

And poor Mitch McConnell, the U.S. Senate minority leader from Kentucky, who very much wants to switch places with U.S. Sen. Harry Reid once the Republicans win the majority in the Senate. But there's a problem – Mr. McConnell is clinging to a 4-point lead over Democratic challenger Alison Grimes and in at least one instance, he hasn't done much to help himself. In an ad filled with iconic Kentucky images, there is a snippet of a college basketball team celebrating a championship. The bad part is that the team is not the Kentucky Wildcats.

It's Duke. Whoops.

The Kentucky race reaches an even higher level of ridiculousness with an ad from Ms. Grimes, in which she touts her Kentucky-ness while shooting skeet; the kicker for that ad comes in a photograph of Mr. McConnell holding a rifle over his head, Charlton Heston style – and Ms. Grimes chides the senator for holding the rifle incorrectly.

The back-and-forth in the Kentucky race was good enough to rate it as the most ridiculous race in the country. But with three weeks left before Election Day, we can still hope that The Battling Toms can crack the Top 5.