CD 12 Endorsement

One of the fiercest battles this year has been the fight between current Congressional incumbents Jason Altmire and Mark Critz in the redrawn 12th Congressional District.  Since Pennsylvania lost a seat due to the census Republicans packaged these two men together in the new 12th.  Altmire is a very conservative Democrat who defeated radical right Representative Melissa Hart for his seat.  Critz inherited his when Jack Murtha passed away.

Jason Altmire is someone who votes with Republicans most of the time on key issues, in key votes.  His Democratic credentials are more questionable even than Tim Holden’s.  In fact he makes Tim look like a liberal.  I cannot support someone with such a right wing voting record.

Mark Critz has been a staunch supporter of Labor though and has a more moderate voting record.  He is not a progressive by any stretch of the imagination though.  The shenanigans surrounding his election in a special election still hang over him but he is the better choice in this conservative region of Pennsylvania.  I won’t endorse him because he is not a progressive but there is a clear choice in this race for union workers and their families.

Critz Cries Foul on Altmire Ad

Mark Critz, engaged in a rabid primary race against fellow Democratic Congressman Jason Altmire in the revamped 12th CD, called his opponent out today in a press conference call.  Altmire aired an ad criticizing Critz for voting “present” on the Ryan budget last year.  The plan, up again now, destroyed Medicare as we know it, privatizing the successful government health plan for seniors.  The Democratic strategy on that vote was to have everyone vote present to force Republicans into going on the record for or against Medicare.  Altmire was one of only 16 Democrats who stranded from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s efforts and voted No instead.  Congressman Bob Brady and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky spoke supporting Critz’s explanation of his vote.  Here’s the Altmire ad:

The Critz campaign issued this statement earlier today:

At the time of the April 2011 vote, Politico reported that “Democrats asked all their members to vote ‘present’ on the conservative Republican Study Committee’s budget – an attempt to force it through the House – but failed. And illustrating the unease with which some still view Democratic leadership’s plans, more conservative lawmakers in the minority – like Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Altmire, Georgia’s John Barrow and Oklahoma’s Dan Boren – bucked Pelosi and Hoyer.”

The Democrats planned to allow the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee’s budget to go through in an attempt to sideline the less absurd (yet still draconian) Ryan Budget, which was more likely to pass. The thinking was that the Senate would never pass the fringe Republican Study Committee’s budget, but might pass Ryan’s, so the Democrats voted “present” to force the Republican Study Committee’s budget through the House in order to gain a tactical advantage and preserve Medicare as we know it.

The ultimate irony of Altmire’s ad is that by not playing along with Democratic leadership, Altmire actually worked to advance the Ryan Budget!

To claim that Democrats in the 12th District should vote against Critz for his procedural vote on the budget obscures the fact that Altmire was actually helping the Republicans pass the Ryan Budget by not voting with Critz and the rest of the Democratic Party.

At the time of the vote, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said he was “disappointed” in Altmire and the small handful of others who did not vote present, saying “I was disappointed that they did not follow what I think was a strategy to highlight the position of the Republican Party.”

“I am very disappointed that Jason Altmire would distort my record on this,” said Mark Critz in a statement. “I stood with my Democratic colleagues on this vote as a way to kill Congressman Ryan’s budget that ended Medicare.”

The most remarkable part of this story, aside from the extreme distortion itself, is that the ad is narrated entirely by Congressman Altmire. I say that this is remarkable because Altmire knows the exact circumstances of the procedural vote, and surely remembers the tactical nature of the Democratic leadership’s decision. Rarely are attack ads with such flagrant falsities narrated by the candidate themselves-these types of wild assertions are usually done by a deep, scary voice from an outside organization.

Critz Challenges Altmire Petitions

Congressman Mark Critz is challenging Congressman Jason Altmire’s position on the April primary ballot by contesting 942 of the signatures of his nominating petitions.  Altmire filed 1651 signatures and 1000 are required for the federal office.  If successful Critz would eliminate his opponent without firing a single shot in a heavily watched race.  Because of reapportionment Pennsylvania lost a Congressional seat and Republicans controlling the process (along with Democrats Bob Brady and Mike Doyle) pitched these two incumbent Democrats against each other.

The rules for gathering petition signatures are strict and every candidate is provided with a list of the rules when filing to run with the Pennsylvania Department of State.  In addition these rules are listed on its website.  There’s really no excuse to violate them as widely as it appears Altmire did.  Critz alleges that a staffer for his opponent circulated petitions while not residing within the District.  That would disqualify every signature on those petitions.  In this instance that would mean 610 signatures.  Subtracting that figure from the 1651 filed and he’s perilously close to being disqualified.  Only 42 additional ones need to be disallowed.

Here’s the list as supplied by the Critz campaign:

610 Defective Circulator’s Affidavits

115 Line Information Omitted

87 Illegible

85 Nicknames or Initials

79 Not Registered

66 Omitted or Incorrect Municipality

64 Line Information in the Hand of Another

38 Not Registered at Address

33 Not Registered Democrats

24 Invalid Dates

22 Duplicate Signatures

17 Struck Before Filing

16 Struck by Pennsylvania Department of Commonwealth

12 Signed After Circulator’s Affidavit Dated

8   Printed Signatures

1   Printed and Signed Different Names

Judges often won’t disqualify for minor mistakes such as listing the wrong municipality or dates depending on the individual case.  They tend to define their decisions based upon the intent of the voter.  If that is clear they’ll uphold the signature.  There certainly appear to be enough justifiably contested signatures here to threaten Congressman Altmire’s career.  If, indeed, one of his staffers not living in the District filed as the circulator he has no legitimate legal recourse to uphold those 610 signatures and his career will be over.  There’s no excuse for such a mistake but a confidential source told me earlier this week there, indeed were, problems with a circulator.

Most of the new District lies in Altmire’s old District so most of the voters there know him better than Critz.  That could also work to his disadvantage in a Democratic primary though because his voting record shows he’s actually an elephant in a donkey costume.  Critz hasn’t been in office long having succeeded the late John Murtha in the old PA-12.

I’ve had my problems with both of these conservative Congressmen in the past, particularly with the way Critz was selected by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party after Murtha died.  He’s far superior to Altmire, in my estimation and should be the choice for Democrats in this election.

Update:  From the Critz campaign:  “Actually, the 610 number is attributed to multiple circulators. His staffer accounts for 385.”

This means there were more circulators not eligible to do so for Altmire.  Really bad judgment by someone high up in that campaign if true.

Magliocchetti Indicted: Bad news for Critz and PA Dems in PA-12?

The Pennsylvania Progressive has been peering into the way Congressman Mark Critz and his cohorts have been operating for quite sometime. Unfortunately for Congressman Critz, things may get more interesting as we head into the Fall.  Fresh on the heels of Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Charlie Rangel (D-NY) corruption scandals, a former aide to the late Congressman John Murtha was indicted yesterday in an Alexandria, VA courtroom and released on a two million dollar bond.

Paul Magliocchetti, or “Mags” as his golf buddies affectionately called him faces 8 counts of making false campaign contributions and 3 counts of making false statements to federal officials.  In short, I’d predict that Mags won’t be hitting the golf course anytime soon, unless he gets a golf course wall mural painted on the inside of his prison cell.  The indictment contends that Magliocchetti had associates and employees of the now defunct PMA Lobbying Group become straw contributors to powerful Appropriations subcommittee members such as John Murtha, Norm Dicks, James Moran, and Peter Visclosky so that the PMA Group could maintain its prestige and win big time defense contracts for its clients. The contributors were then reimbursed which is a violation of the law. In 2006 alone, more than 60 earmarks went to PMA clients, totaling more than 95 million dollars, while according to the National Review, PMA associates and employees donated between $230,000 to $279,000 annually.

Congressman Mark Critz, of course, was very familiar with PMA Group.  Just how close may yet remain to be seen. Typically in situations such as these, Magliocchetti may face the choice of a much lengthier stay in the slammer, or turning into the consummate rat and snuffing everyone that was involved or had knowledge of what was occurring, if anyone else knew. The big questions are, will the list of people with knowledge of what was going include former Economic Development Director, Mark Critz? And if so, what role did he have in this process?  

If you’ll recall, around the time the 12th Congressional Recommendation Committee was being rigged, Former Pennsylvania State Treasurer and Auditor General Barbara Hafer, in fact, posed these concerns about Critz:

“We want to know what he testified to and what documents did he hand over to the House Ethics Committee when he testified recently,” Ms. Hafer said of Mr. Critz. “We also want him to explain his relationship with Coherent Systems.”

Coherent Systems was a defense company later acquired by Argon ST, a larger defense firm. Both were represented by PMA Associates, a now-defunct defense lobbying firm headed by Pittsburgh native and Murtha and friend Paul Magliocchetti.

Coherent’s former CEO, Rick Ianieri, later pleaded guilty to various fraud charges, including allegations that he received a kickback from officials at another defense firm, Kuchera Defense Systems, located in Windber, Somerset County.

In some ways, what Hafer asked, what was the nature of Critz’s testimony during the ethics hearing, and what was his relationship with Coherent, Argon ST, and PMA? This may turn into the achilles heel for PA-12 Democrats in the Fall for those willing to turn a blind eye to corruption.  Unfortunately for the people involved, a Congressional Ethics hearing being dismissed is one thing, but the Feds are more interested in searching for criminality and investigating as to whether or not a law has been broken. That in itself is a much different standard. To my knowledge, although Critz vowed to release his testimony, he has yet comply with his commitment to do so.

We do know however, that former PMA associates persist to be close donors to Congressman Critz, as former PMA lobbyists recently gave at least $75,000 in personal contributions leading up to the Special Election in May.  Indeed, it would not be surprising if any of those former PMA lobbyists and donors had knowledge of the racket that Magliocchetti orchestrated and if so, they may end up knee deep in it with him.

Ultimately, this should compel Congressman Critz to return their contributions or donate them to charity immediately and of course, release the full transcript of his Congressional Ethics Committee testimony to the press and public regarding PMA Associates and Mr. Magliocchetti.

As for Maglioccetti, he should come forward and reveal anyone else who had knowledge of the process that was occurring and their role, if anyone else knew what was going on.  It may land him a much shorter stay in the slammer.

Correction:  It seems Paul Maglioccetti never worked directly for Congressman Murtha.  We regret the error.  According to a Google search Murtha’s staff, at one time, issued this statement:  “Magliochetti (sic) served as a staff analyst for the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Murtha was never Chairman or Ranking Member while Magliochetti (sic) worked for the subcommittee. In fact, Magliochetti (sic) worked for Chairman Bill Chappel and full committee chairman Jamie Whitten.”

Happy Tax Day Mark Critz!

(Happy Tax Day! – promoted by PA Eagle Eye)

In lieu of Vice President Biden’s April 23 visit to Pittsburgh to fundraise for 12th Congressional candidate Mark Critz, where tickets will be selling for $250.00 a pop and photo reception opportunities for $4800.00, according to Politico and pa2010, we at the Pennsylvania Progressive would like to wish Mark Critz and the folks involved at closely held Parkins entities who profited handsomely from Penn Dot contracts at the expense of defrauded Pennsylvania taxpayers a happy Tax Day!

http://www.pa2010.com/2010/03/…

Wishing the Parkins gang, of which Critz was listed as Treasurer and Secretary of two of these entities, however, I guess is not very fitting on tax day, seeing as how Parkins never paid any (or very few) state or federal income taxes according to the litany of lawsuits discovered by here by the Pennsylvania Progressive.  Don’t worry though, rest assured… that is not anything a bookkeeper or a Treasurer would have any knowledge about.  

Obviously, they were not a “struggling business” with the contracts they secured.  Which leads me to wonder, when looking at the Pennsylvania Department of Corporations page, why are Parkins, Inc. and Parkins Contracting Corp. still active entities today?  What type of businesses are they engaged in today?  Seeing as how it is tax day, as a taxpayer who’s been defrauded, I feel there’s a “right to know” in light of their past behavior.

It is my guess perhaps and I could be wrong that you cannot do a bankruptcy on a fraud, but if these corporations are still active, I hope they are not continuing their past bad behavior.  The Hill recently reported the Dems hit Burns over corporate taxes.  

http://www.politicspa.com/the-…

Anyone above a 5th grader can realize that at least their company paid some.  Parkins, Inc. and entities got the biggest tax break… they engaged in employer tax evasion during Critz’s tenure.

http://thepennsylvaniaprogress…

Today is a reminder, that despite Parkins, of which Critz was a corporate officer and others that Joe Biden is right…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

Its time to be patriotic and pay your taxes!  But if not… its okay, you can always run for congress.

Barbara Hafer Withdraws

Barbara Hafer has withdrawn as a candidate for the 12th Congressional District.  PA2010.com was the first to pick this up.  According to my information Hafer was able only to secure a few signatures over the required amount and felt she would be challenged for her ballot position.  The short time period for organizing people and getting a campaign together definitely hurt everyone in this race due to the timing of Congressman Murtha’s death.  His funeral just about coincided with the beginning of the nominating petition period and efforts by those in Murtha’s camp to dissuade others from announcing before the funeral hurt them.  Was this calculated?  Who knows.

Through the course of our work on this race I never spoke with Hafer or her operatives.  They were not our sources.  

Critz Implicated in Murtha Sleazy Deal

I heard last week that more information about Mark Critz would be coming out and it would be bad.  Critz was the District Office Chief of Staff for Jack Murtha and the late Congressman was up to his neck in inappropriate deals.  The way it worked was Murtha, Chair of a powerful Defense committee, used his influence with The Pentagon to secure contracts for favored contractors.  Those companies, as much as possible, brought jobs to the 12th Congressional District and poured contributions into Murtha’s re-election campaign coffers.  It was so simple even a fifth grader could connect the dots and CREW annually named Murtha as one of the top ten most corrupt Members of Congress as a result.

Of course the people in the 12th CD loved the jobs.  So much so they turned blind eyes to the corruption.  Now that Murtha is gone the gravy train of jobs ends.  Regardless of who succeeds him that seniority, influence and power are gone.  What remains are questions concerning Critz’s involvement in the gravy train.  Now CQ Politics reports a connection between Mark Critz and the corruption:

Mark Critz – the aide to the late Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania who was picked as the Democratic candidate to replace his boss – attended a 2005 meeting of defense contractors and lobbyists and offered the congressman’s support for an earmark project that resulted in criminal convictions for three men last year.

Shawn Piatek said this defending Critz:

“Some may say Mr. Murtha fought too aggressively to bring economic development and jobs to western Pennsylvania. Mark disagrees, he will continue to fight for jobs and economic development in Congress. Families are really struggling right now and he’s going to work hard to get folks back to work because that’s exactly what western Pennsylvania needs.”

So it’s all about jobs to Critz as it was with Murtha.  The end justifies the means.  I’m sorry but the end never justifies the means.

CQPolitics further says “But it is clear that Critz was a point person for Murtha on earmarks.”  Isn’t that called a bag man?  Pennsylvania Democrats will rue the day they appointed Mark Critz to be their standard bearer for this seat.  It’s already been a bad year for Democrats and Mark Critz is continuing the downhill slide.  This was simply a stupid decision and the arrogant attitude about the corruption is repugnant.

Critz Secures Party Nomination For Special Election

Mark Critz has secured the 26 votes necessary from the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party to be their candidate on May 18th to fill the unexpired term of the late John P. Murtha.  This pretty much insures the Republican nominee will win the special election and swing this seat tot he GOP.  Critz is a fatally flawed candidate and what we’ll be seeing the next two and a half months will be ugly.  The vote went 30 for Critz, 18 for Hafer and 1 for Bucchianeri.

There will also be a simultaneous primary for the nomination for November for a full term.

Today’s Vote

The Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party votes today for a candidate to run for the May 18 special election in the 12th Congressional District.  This person will compete with the Republican selected to fill the remaining term of the late John P. Murtha.  The 12th CD is a heavily gerrymandered area which stretches from Indiana County down to Fayette and Greene Counties in the far southwestern part of the state.  Of the four candidates we have concentrated upon vetting Mark Critz who served for over twelve years (according to a legal deposition given by Critz) on Congressman Murtha’s staff.  Barbara Hafer, former Pennsylvania State Treasurer and Auditor General is also running with Cambria County Controller Ed Cernik Jr. and Ryan Bucchianeri.

I haven’t had a horse in this race.  What I have done is focus on the critical and serious shortcomings of Mark Critz as a successor.  With an amazing number of Pennsylvania Congressional seats in play this year adding the 12th to that mix provides reactionary Republicans the opportunity to give us more Joe Pitts’, Melissa Harts and Phil Englishes.  As corrupt as Murtha was he brought jobs to an area in desperate need of them and he wasn’t a war profiteer like Irey.  We exposed his 2006 opponent for her reasons for supporting the War in Iraq and we also exposed Critz’ failings.

Cernik is largely an unknown outside Johnstown but PA2010 reports (great reporting over there!) he is anti-choice and pro gun.  I was in Philadelphia two evenings last week and gun safety is costing people, including cops and kids, their lives.  It’s tough enough battling Republican gun nuts who don’t believe in safety, law and order or law enforcement without electing Democrats who believe the same nonsense.

Dan Hirschhorn has a series of articles at PA2010 on today’s vote.  My feeling is that Critz’ candidacy is dead and Bucchianeri isn’t a viable threat.  That leaves it between Hafer and Cernik.  Many Democrats, according to Dan, are miffed at Hafer for reacting to reports we published last week.  Barbara Hafer had nothing to do with our reporting (thanks to the many sources who did) and merely reacted to the news Mark Critz was heavily involved with a company which cheated taxpayers.  She also had issues with the rigging of the local selection process.  I have trouble arguing with what she did.  These are serious issues and Ed Cernik remained silent about them all week.  That concerns me because it didn’t seem to concern him.

Today’s vote is important because this seat is in play.  Democrats must choose the best candidate period.

Parkins Lawsuit Exposed

Last week we exposed a litany of some 75 lawsuits which were filed against Parkins Inc, Parkins Concrete and other corporate incarnations of a company in Johnstown in which Mark Critz was Corporate Secretary, business manager and bookkeeper.  Critz also worked for the late John Murtha, eventually as his District Office Chief of Staff and now wants to succeed the Congressman.   Parkins was a concrete company and it apparently stiffed many entities including the state and federal tax authorities.  Considering the fact Mark Critz worked at Parkins for several years and concurrently, for a time, also worked for the Congressman, his duties at Parkins are very relevant.  I don’t understand how Democrats can appoint someone who worked at a company which defrauded Pennsylvanians as a candidate for Congress.  

In a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article Mrs Parkins was quoted thusly:

Mrs. Parkins, who is the superintendent of schools in the Johnstown School District, said that she and her husband divorced in 2005 and that she had no idea she was listed on any corporate papers with her ex-spouse’s now-defunct concrete business.

For some reason most of the principles at Parkins seem woefully ignorant of the massive financial problems which eventually collapsed the company.  Barbara Parkins was, indeed, mentioned in at least one lawsuit against the company.  The Pennsylvania Progressive has obtained documents proving otherwise:

The final page of this lawsuit filed by New Enterprise Stone and Lime Co. Inc. claims it extended credit to Parkins for their business supplies.  They sued for $25,171.67 in unpaid bills plus $11,895.93 in accrued interest on the debt.  On the final page here Barbara Parkins is mentioned:

On April 10, 1997, the Defendants, Lynn D. Parkins and Barbara L Parkins, made and delivered to the Plaintiff Guaranty Agreements.  True and correct copies of said Guarantee Agreements are attached hereto, made a part hereof and collectively marked Exhibit “B.”

So there exists at least one lawsuit against Parkins, Inc. which names Barbara L. Parkins in the action.  I’m sure Mrs. Parkins will volunteer to correct her statement tomorrow in light of this revelation.  Considering her current position as Superintendent of Schools in Johnstown she should set a good example for the young people there.