#PAGOV: GOP’s attack on Wolf is pretty weak

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I don’t want this piece to be misconstrued as my official public support of Tom Wolf, but as I was reading Politics PA’s piece the other night about the recent attack by the PA GOP on Wolf’s business record, I had to throw my head back and laugh at their pathetic attempt at a political attack. My folks on the red team are seriously going to have to do better than that.

So basically, if you haven’t read the piece yet, the Wolf Organization (Tom Wolf’s company, not to be confused with his campaign) struggled through the recession a few years ago, and employees lost some of their retirement savings. Loans were taken out to keep the business afloat, Tom Wolf came out of retirement, and after some time and stabilization of national economic trends, the Wolf Organization’s outlook became stronger again.

The Pennsylvania GOP alleges that it is immoral that Wolf take out a $10 million loan for his campaign without first restoring the retirement benefits to his company’s employees, thus invalidating the morality of his entire campaign for governor.

PA GOP spokesperson Megan Sweeney said the following:

“Tom Wolf made millions of dollars at the expense of Pennsylvania taxpayers and retirees,” Communications Director Megan Sweeney said. “For months, Tom Wolf has denied that Pennsylvania has a pension crisis, without once acknowledging his role in making it worse. Now Tom Wolf is spending millions of dollars on his campaign for Governor rather than reimbursing the retirees and taxpayers who lost funds. Tom Wolf may be trying to ignore the pension crisis because of a guilty conscience, but Pennsylvanians want to have answers to the lingering questions that remain.  We invite all those who want answers to sign this petition and send Tom Wolf a message that it is time to come clean.”

I decided to put together a list of the various instances Governor Corbett has been irresponsible with taxpayer funds, the financial stakeholders of his position.

(1) Last summer, Corbett used government resources at the PA Department of Health to sue D. Bruce Hanes, the Montgomery County Register of Wills, after he learned that Haines had issued marriage license to same sex couples and Attorney General Kathleen Kane had no plans to challenge Haines’ actions.

Corbett’s press secretary, Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, said at the time, “Individual elected officials cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce. All officials are constitutionally required to administer and enforce the laws that are enacted by the Legislature. Only the courts have the power to declare a law to be unconstitutional and to suspend its effects.”

Pennsylvania, then and now, is the only state in the Northeast with no allowance for same sex civil unions or marriage. Haines later took the case all the way up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, after the Commonwealth Court barred him from stating in his legal argument that denying same sex couples the right to marry was “unconstitutional”. 172 couples were married with the help of Hanes, Senator Leach, and other likeminded individuals before Hanes was ordered to stop providing marriage licenses to same sex couples.

(2) Corbett’s Voter ID law cost millions of dollars, misinformed the public about their rights, and as was later indicated in Representative Turzai’s accidentally honest comments on the bill, it was completely politically motivated. There are no actual reported cases of voter impersonation in Pennsylvania.

Here’s a video of Congressman Fattah and Senator Leach, explaining why this proposal was outright voter suppression:

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 By promoting legislation that would effectively eliminate the right to vote to core constituencies of the Democratic Party traditionally (young people, the poor, senior citizens, minority voters), the GOP hoped to seal the Keystone State for Mitt Romney. As Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley said in his decision to strike down the oppressive law, “Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election. The voter ID law does not further this goal.”

(3) Corbett’s large campaign donations from the school choice lobby incentivize him to support brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, even though they have a horrible record of learning outcomes, safety, and outright corruption.


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(4) Corbett refuses to allow a severance tax for Marcellus Shale natural gas drillers, which could be used to fund DEP inspectors or fully fund our crumbling public school system. These Pennsylvania natural resources are basically being given away to contributors to Governor Corbett’s (and the GOP caucus’s) campaigns.

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(5) (Which brings me to my next one) Corbett invested millions upon millions on building new prisons while funding for our public schools has remained inequitable and stagnant.

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(6) Corbett refused $17 billion in Medicaid expansion federal funding, instead opting for something called “Healthy PA”.

Traditional Medicaid expansion would insure a projected 600,000 Pennsylvanians and could save the Pennsylvania economy between $822 million and $1.6 billion in uncompensated medical costs alone. Healthy PA, Corbett’s proposed plan, has been stalled due to draconian provisions including specific work requirements in order to qualify. With Medicaid expansion, the federal government would cover 100% of costs for the first three years, then no less than 90% of all costs after that.

(7) Then Attorney General Tom Corbett wasted public resources by trying to subpoena the information leading to identification of a couple of Twitter users who (gasp!) criticized his campaign.

I’m not going to even say any more on this one, other than “Wow.”

(8) Governor Corbett advocated for a $1.65 billion tax credit to entice Royal Dutch Shell into building a plant in Western Pennsylvania. One little problem – Corbett is also the beneficiary of the largest amount of contributions from Royal Dutch Shell.

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(9) Corbett’s handling of the Sandusky sexual abuse case at Penn State University as attorney general has been widely criticized. 

In February 2013, the current attorney general, Kathleen Kane, appointed a special deputy to investigate his handling of a situation that amounted to dozens of victims at the hands of the infamous pedophile. It took nearly three years from the time that the abuse first was reported for Corbett to file formal charges against Sandusky.

(10) During his campaign for governor, Attorney General Corbett used his office to launch a political attack on the Affordable Care Act in a state government lawsuit against the policy.

Check out the fundraising letter he sent out around the same time he launched the lawsuit:

Corbett fund-raising letter

(11) Lest we forget, Corbett actually worked to defund our public pension system, and his party operatives are now lecturing an opponent for not fully funding pension benefits for his employees!

Corbett proposed policies that would lower the amount the state is liable for in terms of the pensions of public employees. According to PennLive, “Corbett’s pension plan would place a new artificial collar on pension payments, reducing next year’s obligation from 16 percent of payroll to just 2.25 percent, and limiting subsequent increases to half a percent a year until the payment reaches 4.5 percent of payroll or the collared rate is equal to the annual required contribution.”

BONUS: Governor Corbett has the highest salary and benefits package of any governor in the United States.

PA GOP, ya gotta do a little better than what you’re bringing right now, or this gubernatorial campaign is not only going to be boring, it’ll be completely sad by any objective standards.


This entry was posted in Budget, Civil Rights, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Governor, Health, Labor and Unions, LGBT / Gay Rights, Miscellany, Social Services.

8 Responses to #PAGOV: GOP’s attack on Wolf is pretty weak

  1. John Rzodkiewicz says:

    The best post on this blog in a while. Facts we can use rather than just opinion. Kudos Colleen!

    • Colleen Kennedy says:

      Thanks John! The scary thing is I didn’t have to consult the internet to make the list….just to find the references. That’s how many awful things Governor Corbett has done in the past four years.

  2. Pingback: 4/11 Morning Buzz | PoliticsPA

  3. JebF says:

    Agreed – great post, great watch-dogging. Only thing I’d add is while the GOP’s line is really weak here, I would like some more information about Wolf’s campaign loan. He seems to have misrepresented his business history and the financing of his campaign which does bother me a little. Bothers me more (I know, this may be naive) that even though he had millions in the bank already for his campaign he still found it necessary to take out $4M extra dollars. Just seems a little irresponsible and I’m not crazy about the idea of having a governor that deep in debt.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Colleen – they aren’t referring to Wolf employee’s pensions. They are referring to the State pension money lost in the investment in Wolf’s company right before he joined the Rendell administration. Check out the Philly Inquirer article.

  5. John H says:

    Exactly how does the employees at Wolf’s company losing some money in their pension fund during an economic downturn cause a lose to the taxpayers of Pennsylvania?

    I am a retired state worker. State retirees have not had any increase in their pensions for something like 12 years. At the same time, state officials (including members of the General Assembly) get a cost of living increase every year.

    Maybe there is something to the GOP’s argument, but I do not see what it is that Tom Wolf is supposed to have done wrong. His borrowing money to fund his campaign for Governor would only affect his employees’ pensions if he borrowed the money from their pension fund. I have not heard anyone claim that is what he did.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am a founding member of Lebanon County for Tom Wolf.

  6. my only problem with this article is that it NEEDS a #12 – the almost $4 million dollars estimated as wasted on the ill-advised and still not successful privatization of the lottery

  7. Barbara Blum says:

    Colleen:: Haven’t had time to call and make date. Holidays, unpacking, seeing kids. But next week. BTW, supporting McCord. Has most experience in running an agency rather than just a corporation. Finance background and from people who know him personally an all around good guy.

    Anyone but Schwartz. Mostly because of her support of Patriot Act, voting, when she bothered, with conservatives and for the Farm act, causing loss of food stamps for too many.