Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Rob Gleason, who recently stated “I have not tolerated Republicans going after Republicans”, today demonstrated his hypocrisy again with a press release attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate Sam Rohrer and defending Democrat-sponsored legislation to do this. This was quickly followed by a similar attack statement from Mr. Rohrer’s opponent, Attorney General Tom Corbett. The details have been added as an update at the bottom of a previous post, “Hypocrisy.”
Sewage sludge: A material composed of human waste and an abundance of other unappetizing elements that is dehydrated into “cake” and spread on farm fields as fertilizer for the food you eat. What a lovely mental image.
Sludge (or biosolids, a polite euphemism used by those who promote its use) has become quite common on Pennsylvania farm fields, much to the dismay of residents whose communities abut factory farms that liberally spread the muck on their fields.
These citizens have good reason for their fear. According to a statement by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, the sludge “can contain any number of over 100,000 toxins, pathogens and poisons, such as heavy metals, PCBs, pathogens, carcinogens, pesticides [and] industrial solvents” that can devastate human health and harm the environment. There have, in fact, been numerous illnesses and several deaths in Pennsylvania that have been attributed to exposure to toxic sludge.
In 2005 the General Assembly passed and Governor Ed Rendell signed the ACRE law that authorizes the state Attorney General to overrule local ordinances affecting farming practices, including the spreading of sewage sludge. Since the passage of the law more than a dozen municipalities with serious concerns about the health and safety of their residents have enacted local ordinances banning the use of sludge on farm fields in their communities.
If you remember from an earlier post on this blog, “Quid pro quo”, gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Tom Corbett is a former lobbyist for Waste Management, a sludge hauler and contributor to Mr. Corbett’s campaign.
Is it surprising, then, to learn that Mr. Corbett has filed lawsuits against these communities to prevent them from enforcing the ordinances they enacted to protect the health of their families and the safety of their environment?
Remember, the ACRE law authorizes but does not mandate the Attorney General to fight these ordinances. The decision to sue these communities is strictly Mr. Corbett’s; he is not compelled to do this. In defending his decision to file these suits, Mr. Corbett’s office stated in a legal brief filed with the Court against East Brunswick Township on January 31, 2008, that “There is no inherent right to local self government.”
The anger over these lawsuits has spread widely during the past few years, with affected citizens demonstrating their outrage by fighting the Attorney General’s suits, forming activist groups, writing letters to the editor, and even staging a Capitol Rotunda protest where the participants dubbed Mr. Corbett “Toxic Tom.”
Fortunately for at least one community – Packer Township in Carbon County – Commonwealth Court on March 17 ruled against Mr. Corbett’s suit to overturn their anti-sludge ordinance.
Mr. Corbett, why are you wasting funding and resources pursuing these lawsuits, especially since you recently testified before the House Appropriations Committee that the Attorney General’s office is having budget problems? Is this being a good steward of the taxpayers’ money?
Worse, Mr. Corbett, is that these suits benefit no one but the factory farmers and sludge haulers. They hurt the very people you are sworn to serve when their only crime is trying to protect their property and the welfare of their families. If you are elected, is this an example of how little regard you will have for the citizens of Pennsylvania when the special interests demand their payback?
That, Mr. Corbett, stinks worse than the sludge.
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For a similar viewpoint with a slightly different slant, check the blog by former PA State Representative Frank LaGrotta.
“Hypocrisy is the homage which vice pays to virtue.“
– Francois de La Rochefoucauld, French author and moralist (1613 – 1680)
Even though this quote was penned by a Frenchman more than three centuries ago, it couldn’t be more pertinent today in describing the dirty tricks of the past week perpetrated by Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania GOP bosses.
This will take a bit to explain, so please be patient.
During a luncheon speech attended by several hundred people at the conservative Pennsylvania Leadership Conference on April 17 and broadcast live on PCN, Mr. Corbett declared that “the Constitution is a living document.” To a conservative this is a deeply offensive remark, inferring that the principles of the Constitution are open to broad interpretation through legislation and court decision. The reaction of the audience was palpable as demonstrated by immediate gasps and murmurs throughout the room.
I’ll not debate this issue here; that has been done endlessly since the event. The purpose of today’s post is to relate the aftermath of this event and how Mr. Corbett and the Pennsylvania GOP’s exalted ruler, Rob Gleason, twisted the facts for their own ends and confirmed their affinity for the extreme hypocrisy that bolsters their lust for power and control.
Within hours of the close of the conference Mr. Corbett’s remark was a hot topic on discussion boards and email chains, gathering momentum as it spread. Mr. Corbett’s comment was mentioned the following morning in an article by Brad Bumsted in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. By Sunday evening the news had gone viral, fed by conservative outrage and astonishment over Mr. Corbett’s assertion.
On Tuesday morning, three days after the event, Sam Rohrer, Mr. Corbett’s Republican gubernatorial opponent, issued a rebuttal to Mr. Corbett’s “living document” remark that outlined the differences in their views of the Constitution. Prior this statement Mr. Rohrer had said nothing about Mr. Corbett since the campaign began.
The following day Mr. Corbett issued a damage control press release about Mr. Rohrer’s statement, claiming that “desperate candidates falling behind in the polls start to make deceptive statements about their opponent” and stating that “it’s extremely disappointing that a fellow Republican has chosen this [attack] route.”
Mr. Corbett’s press release was quickly followed by an email blast from Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Rob Gleason, in which he stated that “I have not tolerated Republicans going after Republicans.”
Those are the details of what happened; let’s take a closer look at the situation.
As the timeline above shows, Mr. Rohrer was not the instigator of this discussion. The comment by Mr. Corbett had already spread statewide before Mr. Rohrer’s statement on Tuesday morning.
Mr. Corbett’s “disappointment” over attacks by a fellow Republican is deceitful at best and decidedly hypocritical. Almost since the beginning of his campaign Mr. Corbett has been crisscrossing the state screaming “pay raise” – a reference to Mr. Rohrer’s 2005 vote – on every possible occasion. (See “The big elephant in the room”, 4/3) His latest attack on Mr. Rohrer was reported in the April 26 edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Mr. Corbett has been attacking a fellow Republican for months, yet he has the audacity to now whine about Mr. Rohrer’s response to his gaffe? And where was Mr. Gleason’s outrage while these R-on-R attacks were taking place?
Oh, I see. Criticisms of fellow Republicans are unacceptable when they’re leveled at the anointed candidate but perfectly fine when they’re aimed at the unendorsed candidate.
But the ultimate hypocrisy is that while Mr. Corbett was attacking Mr. Rohrer over the vote, he happily accepted the pay raise while Mr. Rohrer did not.
Let’s consider Mr. Gleason’s indignation a bit more.
Why hasn’t Mr. Gleason commented on Mr. Corbett’s “pay raise” attacks?
Why didn’t he show his displeasure when Mr. Corbett’s campaign filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all of Mr. Rohrer’s legislative and financial records while he was a member of the House of Representatives?
Why wasn’t the state GOP endorsement of candidates prior to the primary election considered a de facto attack on unendorsed Republican candidates?
Why was it acceptable to purge the names of all unendorsed Republican candidates from the Pennsylvania GOP website the day following the endorsement meeting in February, effectively denying their very existence?
Why have county GOP officials and volunteers been ordered, sometimes with reported intimidation, to support only the GOP endorsed candidates and not distribute campaign materials for unendorsed candidates?
Why are unendorsed Republican candidates not given the same opportunity as endorsed candidates to speak at state GOP-sponsored events?
Why was Republican State Senator Don White allowed to attack Mr. Rohrer at a GOP function in Ford City on Friday (4/23) night?
Why? Weren’t all of these tactics real or virtual attacks on fellow Republicans?
Mr. Gleason has the impudence to self-righteously claim indignation about Mr. Rohrer’s supposed Republican-on-Republican “attack” on Mr. Corbett, yet allows these aggressions to continue with impunity when aimed at the non-endorsed candidate. He is the ultimate hypocrite.
It’s an abhorrent double standard that’s all about a lust for power and control. The country club elite who dominate the Pennsylvania GOP establishment want to ensure that the special interests that fund the campaigns of the anointed get full value for their dollar so they will continue to contribute generously. They crave the backroom control of the Governor’s office that will be theirs with the election of the candidate they coronate. Mr. Gleason and the GOP elite have no integrity or honor. No deception, no matter how vile, is beyond their limits. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds. They have confirmed Monsieur de La Rochefoucauld’s statement. Hypocrisy, indeed, is the homage which vice pays to virtue.
Ultimately, it is the people of Pennsylvania who suffer for this hypocrisy by being deceived into believing that good, decent candidates are villains unworthy of their vote.
It is time for the good people of our state to take control of the political process and teach a harsh lesson to those power-hungry hypocrites who would exercise control over us. We must make our voices heard by rejecting Mr. Corbett and the party elite on May 18.
MAY 7, 2010 UPDATE: Today Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Rob Gleason issued a press release attacking Mr. Rohrer for missing two Finance Committee votes concerning property taxes. This was quickly followed by a similar statement by Mr. Corbett’s campaign that was reported in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
The irony of this is that the two bills in question, HB 2483 and HB 2484, are both Democrat-sponsored bills that are just more meaningless and ineffective smoke and mirrors that allow the Democrats to brag about their efforts for property tax “relief” in time for the November elections. These bills in no way resemble Mr. Rohrer’s plan for total property tax elimination. And these were simple committee votes, not floor votes.
Mr. Gleason, what happened to all of your outrage over Republicans attacking Republicans, especially since you now have done it yourself and, worse, have done it in defense of useless Democrat-sponsored legislation? Are you now promoting legislation advanced by the opposing party to attack a fellow Republican?
You, Mr. Gleason, know as well as anyone that Mr. Rohrer has been THE champion for property tax elimination for many years and that House leaders of your own party worked against his plan whenever it came up for a vote. Are you so desperate that you would stoop to smearing Mr. Rohrer’s name by inferring that he doesn’t care about property tax elimination simply because of a meaningless committee vote? You have no shame.
You have proven again that you are a hypocrite and a liar and are not to be trusted as the leader of the Pennsylvania GOP. You have given us even more justification to vote against Mr. Corbett on May 18 and to remove you from your position as leader of the Pennsylvania Republican party.
Mr. Gleason and Mr. Corbett, you are despicable.
Something for something, a favor for a favor – quid pro quo. It’s the bane of honest government.
For many years the people of Pennsylvania have been suffering at the hands of this pervasive practice. Politicians sell their votes in worship of it. Policy is made on the altar of its existence. Government corruption thrives in its wake. Political quid pro quo, the art of granting favors in return for campaign donations.
The most egregious example of bad policy and even worse legislation based on QPQ is the legalization of gambling in Pennsylvania, sold to voters on the concept of property tax “relief” but with an entirely different hidden agenda. See the chart below from a study by Pennsylvania Common Cause that summarizes campaign donations from gambling-related interests during the years 2001-2008. The complete Common Cause study is here.
The strongest proponent for legalized gambling was Governor Ed Rendell, who was given more than $1 million by gambling interests – he is by far the greatest beneficiary of gambling industry largess. Numbers two and three on the list are former Senator Vince Fumo and Representative John Perzel, both prime architects of the gambling law. Do you suppose those campaign contributions had anything to do with their zeal to legalize gambling?
Now look at number eight on the list. Of that $85,000+ accepted by gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett, $55,000 came from a single contributor, Louis DeNaples. Mr. DeNaples is the owner of the Mount Airy Casino and a convicted felon with alleged mob ties, but that didn’t seem to bother Mr. Corbett in the least as he accepted the donations.
Mr. DeNaples donated to Mr. Corbett under the name of D&L Realty, a real estate firm owned by Mr. DeNaples. You can verify these donations with a visit to the Pennsylvania Campaign Finance website here.
What effect do you suppose those donations to Tom Corbett will have on policy if he becomes Governor and QPQ from the gambling industry rears its head?
In December 2007 Mr. Corbett accepted a fundraiser from the chief of staff for now-indicted former House Speaker John Perzel while Mr. Perzel was actively under investigation by the Attorney General’s office. While there may not be eventual QPQ for this event, Mr. Corbett’s acceptance while investigating Mr. Perzel was certainly inappropriate and a possible conflict of interest. But, hey, it was more campaign money, so why not? Details of the story are here.
Those were interesting, so let’s dig a little deeper for possible QPQ for Mr. Corbett. I just spent three days researching the PA Campaign Finance website and while it was tedious work it yielded some very interesting information.
Between 2001 and today Mr. Corbett accepted $38,800 from the PSEA, the powerful state teachers’ union. Will QPQ for this money affect Mr. Corbett’s policies on education funding, the eventual resolution of the 2012 pension spike, school property tax reform (or the lack of it) and other education-related matters?
Other union contributors included AFSCME (municipal employees), IUPAT (construction), Local 98, IBEW (construction), and Carpenters’ PAC. The total contribution from these groups was almost $150,000. I suppose that helps to explain why Mr. Corbett was “undecided” in the Commonwealth Foundation’s gubernatorial candidate survey about supporting a right-to-work law and the repeal of prevailing wage laws. Changes such as these could significantly help Pennsylvania’s business climate and could save millions of dollars in infrastructure construction projects, but…
By far the largest contributors were energy and mining companies, where the total contributions were well over one million dollars. The whopper in this category was $360,000 from Kim Pegula of Boca Raton, Florida, who registered as a homemaker and is the wife of Terry Pegula, President and CEO of East Resources Inc., a Warrendale-based gas exploration company. Marcellus shale gas extraction is going to be a huge industry in Pennsylvania in the coming years and will require enlightened and carefully crafted business, regulatory, and environmental policies. How will these huge contributions affect Mr. Corbett’s ability to fairly and objectively devise and administer these policies for a vitally important Pennsylvania industry?
Also high on the contributor list were attorneys, many of whom are trial lawyers, whose contributions totaled in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This group can be very influential in policy making and has been known to lobby heavily for or against pending legislation.
Other $100,000+ groups included infrastructure engineering businesses, insurance companies, and capital management firms. All of these categories have a vested interest in the way business is conducted in Pennsylvania and are ripe for QPQ.
And finally, there’s a comparatively small contribution that I found interesting: Mr. Corbett’s acceptance of $26,000 from the Waste Management PAC. Waste Management is Mr. Corbett’s former employer and is engaged in the business of, among other things, hauling sewage sludge from neighboring states to Pennsylvania. I’ll have more about Mr. Corbett’s relationship to sewage sludge in an upcoming post that you’ll find very interesting.
In the end, it all comes down to whether Mr. Corbett’s administration, if he is elected, will be influenced by these immense contributions. Quid pro quo in the form of pay-to-play, no-bid contracts, and legislative and executive policy has been the rule in Pennsylvania politics rather than the exception. There’s really no reason to expect that it will be any different in the future as long as candidates are willing to accept massive campaign donations from special interests like these.
In these perilous economic times I, for one, am unwilling to risk the interests and well-being of the people of Pennsylvania on a candidate who can possibly be tainted by the rivers of special interest money flowing into his campaign coffers. Are you willing to take that risk? If not, choose wisely when you vote in the May 18 Republican primary election.
The statement below concerning a lawsuit against Tom Corbett was released on Friday (4/9) by members of the Berks County Patriots to media outlets across the state and to all members of the Republican State Committee. It was given to me on Saturday.
The members of the group who studied Mr. Corbett’s deposition have apparently put a great deal of effort into the analysis of this lawsuit. By publicly making this statement they are demonstrating tremendous confidence in their conclusions and are showing much courage by releasing it over their signatures.
Although this does not prove in any way that Tom Corbett is guilty of the accusations, it certainly casts serious doubt on the way he does the people’s business as Attorney General and his suitability as a candidate for Pennsylvania Governor.
This lawsuit was mentioned briefly in an article by Laura Vecsey in the Harrisburg Patriot-News on March 29.
The full text of the amended complaint mentioned in the statement is here.
With this information now provided to them, will the members of the Republican State Committee seriously consider these accusations and take any kind of action concerning their chosen candidate? Will anyone in the media have the courage to publish this statement?
Please read the information and draw your own conclusions.
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TESTIMONY DAMAGING TO CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR
Testimony given under oath by the endorsed Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Governor on March 11, 2010 is damaging, and is clearly not the testimony of a man who has nothing to hide.
Mr. Tom Corbett, the current Pennsylvania attorney general, was deposed in connection with charges filed against him in the United States District Court for the Middle District of PA on August 11, 2008 regarding alleged widespread corruption in the Attorney General’s Office over a period of years (See attached “Amended Complaint” for details of the charges).
Thomas Kimmett, who worked in the Financial Enforcement Section of that office, reported wide ranging abuses in that section, and reported those abuses through the chain of command, and, ultimately outside of normal channels. Mr. Kimmett, a long time Republican who described a campaign of retaliation, harassment, and ostracism against him for doing his patriotic duty, was fired from his position after filing charges against Attorney General Corbett and a number of his subordinates.
Mr. Corbett’s testimony under oath was evasive and obfuscatory, giving significant doubt about his innocence of the charges against him. That, and the widespread and very serious nature of the charges, has led us to conclude that the Republican leadership must evaluate whether Mr. Corbett should step down as a candidate for the highest office in the Commonwealth of PA before the primary election process has advanced any further. In light of events elsewhere in our nation, it is imperative that we restore our political system to strict standards of integrity and honor.
The deposition referred to above is a public document, and is available to anyone who wishes to see it. We are asking the leaders of our party to join us in urging Mr. Corbett to end his campaign for governor immediately. We are encouraging the leaders of our media to allow these facts to be aired immediately to further the cause of honor and integrity in our upcoming elections.
James Billman, Berks County Patriots
Rodney Miller, Berks County Patriots/Republican Committeeman
Ray Bostard, Berks County Patriots/Republican Committeeman
Edmund W. Bender, Berks County Patriots/Republican Committeeman
Gathering momentum like a speeding freight train, the grassroots movement for better government is heading straight for the 2010 elections.
Tea Party, 9-12, Patriot, and similar groups are altering the political landscape this year by actively supporting candidates at all levels who have a record of opposing intrusive government, higher taxes, and infringement of personal liberties. These groups will be a powerful force in deciding who will win elections this year.
The potential for political gain by tapping into the Patriot movement is not lost on gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett. Mr. Corbett is well aware of the movement’s support for Sam Rohrer, his proven, conservative, Constitutional Republican opponent, and has been desperately crisscrossing the state searching for TEA Party meetings in an attempt to convince them that he, too, is a defender of their principles.
The only problem when he meets with these groups is that Mr. Corbett is able to parrot all of the correct conservative buzzwords but has no concept of their substance, even going so far as to blatantly and shamelessly steal Mr. Rohrer’s talking points (“Didn’t I hear that somewhere before?”, April 3).
So, let’s see if Mr. Corbett’s actions support his conservative rhetoric.
- On January 9 it was reported that “Corbett revealed that he would not rule out a tax increase if elected governor”. At a town hall meeting in Kempton on January 12 Mr. Rohrer confirmed his eighteen year record of never voting for a tax increase by publicly signing a no tax increase pledge. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Corbett did an abrupt about-face and signed a similar pledge. Oops – you were caught flip-flopping on that one, Mr. Corbett. Which is it, tax increase or no tax increase?
- In a report about a mid-March interview on MSNBC with Governor Ed Rendell, Mr. Rendell confirmed Mr. Corbett’s center-right credentials when he said that Mr. Corbett “has been a moderate before” and that he was “trying too hard to pick up more conservative voters”. Nice statement, Mr. Rendell. Even though I’ve never agreed with anything you’ve said you apparently hit the nail on the head with this.
- On March 10 the conservative watchdog Commonwealth Foundation graded Mr. Corbett’s economic plan as “FAIL”, noting that “Corbett offers nothing more than the same failed mistakes of the past” and said that Mr. Corbett’s Governor’s Action Team expansion is the same as one of Ed Rendell’s “favorite tools to pick favored companies for corporate welfare”.
- On March 31 the Commonwealth Foundation unveiled its Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Candidate Survey. Many of Mr. Corbett’s answers were anything but conservative. Here are his responses to a few of the questions that are likely most important to true conservatives:
Voter referendum for tax increases: Undecided.
Right-to-work, no compulsory union membership: Undecided.
Repeal prevailing wage laws that can add as much as 30% to the cost of public construction projects: Undecided.
Enact citizen initiative, referendum, and recall: Undecided.
401(k)-style defined contribution pension plans for government employees: Undecided.
Mr. Rohrer, by the way, agreed with all of these principles. The full details of the survey are available here.
For a number of the questions Mr. Corbett attempted to shift the blame for his responses to the legislature, effectively saying that he can do nothing until they act. Where are your conservative principles, Mr. Corbett? Where’s the leadership?
In a future post I’ll detail how some of these answers may have been influenced by quid pro quo for campaign donations by certain organizations.
The bottom line is this: despite Mr. Corbett’s attempts to appear conservative in an effort to attract the vote of Patriot groups, his words do not in any way match his actions or policies. His deceitful pronouncements are merely a pandering burlesque of authentic conservatism.
Your strategy will not work, Mr. Corbett. You can talk the talk but you’ll never learn how to walk the walk. The good people you’re trying to deceive know the difference.
When you’re mildly obsessive-compulsive like me you tend to do things that would be considered odd by those who are not similarly afflicted. A good example is my recent preoccupation with Facebook fans.
For those of you who are not familiar with Facebook, there are pages on the site where businesses, organizations, causes, politicians, and people from infinite other categories can post promotional materials and accrue “fans” who can then exchange messages and chat with each other about the object of their fandom.
Last year a Tom Corbett Facebook page was established by his campaign in support of Mr. Corbett’s candidacy for Pennsylvania Governor. A similar page for Representative Sam Rohrer’s candidacy was launched in December, a full four months after Mr. Corbett’s page first appeared.
Shortly thereafter, in a moment of OCD-inspired fascination, I began keeping detailed daily records of the fan count for the two candidates.
I soon found that even with Mr. Rohrer’s late start, it didn’t take more than a few weeks for the total number of Rohrer fans to exceed those for Tom Corbett. By January 14 the total count was 1789 for Mr. Rohrer, 1557 for Mr. Corbett, an advantage of +232 for Rohrer; on January 21, a week later, the Rohrer count was +394.
This pattern continued for the next month with Mr. Rohrer adding an average of 20.4 fans each day to Mr. Corbett’s average 15.7 daily additions. On February 21 the count was 2672 fans for Mr. Rohrer, 2134 fans for Mr. Corbett, an advantage of +538 for Mr. Rohrer.
It was on February 22 that the curious events began. On that date Mr. Corbett’s fan count increased by an unusual 168 and the next day, February 23, the one day increase skyrocketed to an astonishing 899 – a 46% increase in total fans – suddenly giving Mr. Corbett a 467 fan lead! Anyone familiar with Facebook will readily see that such an increase, while theoretically not impossible, is HIGHLY unlikely.
That same day the following comment was posted on the Corbett fan page and quickly removed (printed here as posted): “i accidently clicked on someting you stuck on the side of my screen and somehow became a “fan” i hate polotics and politicians.” So how did this guy become a fan without his consent? Similar messages were posted by others but I was unable to copy them before they were removed.
On February 24 and beyond, the average daily increase settled right back to the pattern that was established before that remarkable single day pop.
As Mr. Rohrer continued his greater average daily increase, similar single-day events for Mr. Corbett occurred on March 5 (+183) and April 1 (+537) and each time the normal pattern resumed the following day.
On March 14, the Corbett campaign posted this on his Facebook page: “Did you know that Tom has more Facebook fans any other candidate for governor of Pennsylvania? Let’s keep up our momentum on Facebook…”
Well, that explains a lot.
Is someone in the Corbett campaign somehow manipulating the numbers to give the appearance of more support for Mr. Corbett? The facts are stated above, so you can be the judge.
Admittedly, this is pretty petty stuff that probably would have gone unnoticed by anyone who is not a compulsive geek like me. But I believe that it proves a larger point: that apparently the Corbett campaign will resort to any dirty trick, no matter how cheap and shabby, to win the Governor’s seat. And if Mr. Corbett and his staff are apparently willing to manipulate a relatively minor indicator such as this for personal gain, to what lengths will they go in the future to alter the truth and distort important issues that truly affect the people of Pennsylvania?
Since Mr. Corbett’s penchant for deception apparently knows no bounds, is he really the person we want to entrust with the future of our state?