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AFSCME picks Critz

Published by Laura Olson on .

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Critz announced this afternoon that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is backing him over opponent U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire in next month's primary brawl.

The Critz camp noted in their release that the AFSCME endorsement, which represents 65,000 Pennsylvania workers, makes 15 labor groups choosing him in the race. That list includes the local AFL-CIO council, which announced their choice earlier this month.

“Mark Critz is fighting in Congress to protect and create jobs for working Pennsylvanians,” said AFSCME Council 13 Executive Director David Fillman in the news release. “AFSCME proudly endorses Mark Critz for Congress because he has always been there when working men and women needed him.”

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Murphy for AG up on Pgh TV Tues.

Published by Laura Olson on .

Democratic state attorney general candidate Patrick Murphy will be joining the congressional contenders already battling on the airwaves beginning tomorrow, when his first television ad will be aired on Pittsburgh broadcast stations.

That 30-second biography piece, obtained by the Post-Gazette and posted above, is the first TV ad in his primary face-off against former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane. Here's my story from Sunday on that race.

The size of the media buy was not immediately available, though between the new ad and his appearance in Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day parade, the Murphy camp appears to be focused lately western Democrats.

UPDATE: A source tells the Post-Gazette that the ad buy is $50,000, a figure that PoliticsPA also is reporting this morning. 

The piece begins with Murphy talking about his father, an ex-cop, before launching into a bullet-point resume of his military and political work.

"Patrick Murphy: Husband, father, Army paratrooper, West Point law professor," states a narrator. "Murphy prosecuted terrorists in Iraq and came home to help end the war," showing a picture of him with President Barack Obama.

"As attorney general, he'll enforce the law fairly, to protect the rights of workers, our environment, and protect a women's right to choose."

Both attorney general contenders have targeted the controversial mandatory ultrasound bill that state lawmakers shelved amid vocal opposition, and have said they would pursue more investigations of Marcellus Shale drillers. 

Campaign finance reports filed before Team Murphy's Pittsburgh ad buy showed him trailing Kane in his war chest, with about $1.2 million raised compared to her $2 million. But her funds include a $1.75 million loan from her husband, who runs a trucking and distribution firm in the Scranton area, and Murphy posted figures that significantly outpaced Kane in funds raised in 2012.

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Citizen's United endorses Smith

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Citizen's United -- the group that successfully sued the FEC and led to the rise of SuperPACs -- endorsed Armstrong County's Tom Smith in the GOP race for U.S. Senate.

"Tom Smith has a truly American story, from starting out on his family's farm, to owning a small business that eventually employed more than 100 people," Citizen's United president David N. Bossie said in a statement. "Washington needs entrepreneurs like Tom Smith in the halls of the U.S. Senate to right a ship of state that has been adrift way too long."

Smith's rivals for the GOP bid to take on incumbent Bob Casey include David Christian, a Bucks county veteran; former state Rep. Sam Rohrer; Harrisburg attorney Marc Scaringi; and Chester County businessman Steve Welch.

The Citizens United Political Victory Fund has maxed out its donations to Smith, giving his campaign $5,000 for the primary and $5,000 for general election.

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Perzel: 2-5 years in prison

Published by Laura Olson on .

From the main site:

HARRISBURG -- A Dauphin County judge sentenced former Republican House Speaker John Perzel between 30 months and five years in prison and ordered him to pay $1 million in restitution for masterminding a $10 million scheme to use public resources to aid in GOP political campaigns.

Judge Richard Lewis also imposed $30,000 in fines and a five-year probation term on Mr. Perzel, who pleaded guilty last fall to eight counts of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest out of an original 82 charges.

Mr. Perzel, who served in the General Assembly for three decades and spent much of that time leading the House Republican caucus, will report to Dauphin County prison on April 11.

The once-powerful lawmaker told the judge that he embarrassed himself, his family and friends, and the people of Pennsylvania, and "for that, I am truly sorry."

He is among the final four Republican arrested in the state attorney general's legislative corruption probe to be sentenced for their crimes.

His former chief of staff, Brian Preski, former caucus information technology staffer Eric Ruth, and Elmer "Al" Bowman, an ex-staffer to former state Rep. Brett Feese, who also was convicted in the corruption case, also will appear in court this morning.

Prosecutors say the 10 House Republican lawmakers and GOP aides charged in the case used tax dollars to purchase sophisticated computer databases designed to target voters.

Judge Lewis said those actions were a "shocking and flagrant violation of the public trust," and damaged the Legislature's reputation.

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Endorsement game cont.

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The endorsement battle in the PA18 GOP primary continues: today, incumbent Rep. Tim Murphy picked up the nod from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in his race against challenger Evan Feinberg.

From the Murphy campaign:

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue stated his endorsement letter, “At no other time in our history has it been more critical that Members of Congress provide leadership that protects and advances of the interests of the business community.” Donohue continued, “We believe that your re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives will help produce sustained economic growth, help create more jobs, and get our country back on track”

. . . Tim Murphy said, “I’m proud to work side-by-side with the Chamber advancing policies on behalf of our nation’s job creators. As a former business owner myself, I am honored to be endorsed by the U.S. Chamber and will continue working to keep pro-business policies that promise greater economic growth and more jobs on the forefront of the legislative agenda in Congress.”

Feinberg responded:

"It sure is strange when Big Business and Big Labor find a candidate they both love. I'm not sure which corporate welfare vote the Chamber liked the most: was it the bailout for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The auto-bailout? Or maybe it was his vote to give billions to Solyndra and other fledgling green-energy companies? I am surprised, though, that the Chamber didn't find his job-killing card check vote objectionable."

Full Murphy statement after the jump: