Ryan Costello and the NRA: A Perfect Fit

A new school year has begun in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District.  Children and teachers across the Commonwealth arrived for the year excited with anticipation of a safe, nurturing educational environment.  This is all a charade however as no new gun safety legislation has passed since the Sandy Hook massacre December 14, 2012.  Since then I count 54 school shootings (not including suicides) on school or college campuses.  Will your child be next?  Will your spouse, sibling, cousin or neighbor be the next teacher, principal, counselor or administrator gunned down?

One thing that I know for sure:  this school year will see Americans gunned down while at school.  What will Ryan Costello do as a Member of Congress representing the Sixth should he be elected in November?  Would he support Sen. Toomey’s watered down proposal which died because of Tea Party opposition fueled by NRA money?  Even that weak legislation failed.

The NRA has given Costello $4950 thus far for his campaign.  Costello bragged about attending a gun rights rally in Harrisburg while at a taxpayer funded trip to the County Commissioners Association of PA meeting.  His record of giving generous contracts to Chester County firms supporting his campaigns tells us he has a serious penchant for pay to play.  With the NRA supporting his Congressional campaign so strongly the answer to the above is obvious:  you and your children are not safe at Pennsylvania campuses if Ryan Costello is in Washington.

The Second Amendment is clear:  unless one is a member of “a well regulated militia” (e.g. the national Guard) one has no gun rights.  There is nothing on Commissioner Costello’s bios, facebook pages or campaign literature showing he is a member of the National Guard.

Be fearful for our children and our educators should this man be elected to Congress.  How many more children must die before we do something?

The Trivedi campaign issued this statement this week about Costello’s pay to play record:

RYAN COSTELLO GIVES MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN CONTRACTS TO HIS CAMPAIGN DONOR

WEST CHESTER, Pa – During a regularly scheduled meeting of the board of County Commissioners, Chairman Ryan Costello continued to reward his political donors with million dollar contracts.

Even though Chairman Costello has only served as a county commissioner for a little over 2 1/2 years, up until today he has awarded $15.3 million in county contracts to his political donors. But then in his largest demonstration of a pay-to-play operation, during today’s meeting Mr. Costello awarded a contract in excess of $14 million to one of the largest contributors to his congressional campaign.

The congressional campaign of Manan Trivedi pointed to this type of political payback system as one of the highest forms of unethical governance.

“It is clear that in a very short amount of time as commissioner, Ryan Costello has played politics as usual by doling out millions upon millions of dollars in contracts to his political donors,” said Trivedi spokesperson, Daren Berringer. “With the culture of corruption being what it is in Washington these days, Ryan Costello would fit in nicely, but voters in the 6th District deserve better from their next representative. Manan Trivedi has pledged to fight for stronger restrictions on lobbying because he believes members of Congress should serve their constituents, not the deep pocketed donors that fund their campaigns.”

To mark today’s meeting, the Chester County Democratic Party held an event outside of the County Courthouse in order to present Costello with a giant check. The check was to symbolize the amount in which Mr. Costello was selling out Chester County taxpayers for his own political gain.

To date, Mr. Costello has awarded close to $29.6 million in contracts to those who have helped to line his political coffers.

With this record of corruption towards his contributors it is safe to assume he’ll vote the NRA line while in Congress.

Trivedi Announces Third Run For PA-06

Manan Trivedi, the last two times the Democratic nominee for Congress in Pennsylvania’s Sixth District, announced this morning he will seek the seat for the third time.  Normally candidates for major office only get two tries at the apple before voters tag them as perennial losers.  Manan will attempt to negate that stereotype.  Since no other actual Democrat is running he has a great shot of winning the primary against an elephant in a donkey suit.

His statement this morning:

Manan Trivedi Launches Bid for Open Pennsylvania 6th  Congressional District

Committed to Pennsylvania’s Working Families – Building a Stronger Middle-Class

BIRDSBORO Pa – Launching a new campaign for the now open 6th congressional seat in Pennsylvania, Manan Trivedi spoke of his commitment and career to public service. As an a Iraq War veteran, primary care physician and father, Trivedi presented an agenda designed to create economic opportunity in Pennsylvania.

“This election is an opportunity for the people of the 6th District to say no to political gridlock, and yes to ideas that strengthen and grow the middle-class. As a father, doctor in the community and Iraq War veteran, I’m tired of politicians who help themselves instead of the people they’re paid to represent. As Congressman, I’ll only answer to Pennsylvanians, not political insiders — and work with local businesses to create jobs; provide strong support for public education so we prepare students to compete in a global economy; make sure we keep our commitment to our veterans and protect Medicare and Social Security for senior citizens.”

In addition to launching his new campaign, Trivedi also rolled out a list of supporters from across the region:

Wendell Young IV, President UFCW Local 1776 – “I was very pleased to hear that Dr. Manan Trivedi has decided to run for Congress representing the 6th Congressional District. Manan, a Primary Care doctor and Iraq War Veteran understands what it takes to put our nation on a path that provides jobs and other opportunities to our members and their children. Over the last eight years, Manan has been there for the people of the Sixth Congressional District and our members have returned that dedication by overwhelmingly supporting him in his last two campaigns.”

Kate Michelman, President Emerita, NARAL Pro-Choice America – “Today in Congress, women’s health and economic security are at risk because of those whose anti-choice ideology threaten a woman’s wellbeing. I know and support Manan because he is committed to defending and protecting the right of every woman to reproductive freedom and choice.  He understands that by ensuring the rights and health of women, you strengthen families and enable better control of their economic security.”

State Senator Andy Dinniman – “I’m supporting Manan Trivedi for Congress. His work ethic and experience in healthcare and the military will serve as strong assets for the people of the 6th District.”

Jake Long, Chairman of the Committee for Political Education and

Dennis Bomberger, Business Agent, BCTGM (Chocolate Workers Local 464) – “Manan grew up the son of two factory workers so he has a deep understanding and connection to the everyday lives of the working women and men of the BCTGM. We know we can always count on Manan to stand-up for our workers and their families. He will be an unwavering ally to them in Congress.”

State Representative Mark Painter – “I’ve known Manan Trivedi for years, and I’ve seen that he not only speaks the truth, but sticks to his beliefs and is willing to fight for what’s right. He has already served his country with honor, and is ready to serve us again in Washington. I am looking forward to working with him when he becomes our Congressman.”

Kathi Cozzone, Chester County Commissioner – “Chester County would benefit greatly from having Manan Trivedi in Congress. I have a great deal of respect for Manan and his service in the Navy, as a doctor in our community and as a wonderful father and husband. His well-rounded experience will suit him well as a public servant.”

John Hellman, Chester County Central Labor Council Delegate, IBEW Local 654 – “Our Pennsylvania working families work hard each and every day to make our commonwealth economically fair and strong. They deserve to have a congressman who will put forth the same amount of effort and in Manan Trivedi, we can be reassured they will.”

Monica Kline, PA Democratic State Committee, Lebanon County – “When Lebanon County was included in the new 6th district, I quickly got to know Manan Trivedi. His character and experience immediately stood out as a qualities that everyone from Lebanon County can respect: Hard work, Iraq War veteran, physician and caring for his young family. Just as I endorse Manan I encourage others to get behind him so that we can all work together to make a positive change in our county.”

Mayor Michael J. Speck, Phoenixville – “My endorsement for Congress is going to Manan Trivedi because I know he will be a strong partner for our borough. Manan understands how to bring people together to get things done and that’s precisely what Phoenixville needs to move forward.”

Cornell Wilson, Vice Chair, City of Lebanon Democrats and Lebanon City School Board Member – “I’m endorsing Manan Trivedi to be our next congressman because his unselfish service to our community and country is exactly what we need more of from our public officials.”

Stephanie Markstein, Chairperson of the West Chester Borough Democratic Committee – “West Chester needs Manan Trivedi in Congress. I fully support him because I know he will stand up for the entire community and will work to create an even stronger place to raise our families.”

Micah Mahjoubian, LGBT Rights Activist – “I support for Manan Trivedi because he believes in basic fairness and opportunity for all Americans.  He is outraged that in much of our country it is perfectly legal to fire someone or deny them housing just because they’re gay.  We need Manan in Washington to finally pass anti-discrimination legislation that protects members of the LGBT community.”

Frank Burstein, Chairman of the Limerick Township Democratic Committee – “Manan Trivedi represents what is best about Pennsylvania and our Democratic Party values. Our working families will be well served in Congress having Manan there advocating on behalf of their best interests and it’s why I am placing my support behind him.”

Manan Trivedi also received support from the following:

Dr. Harlan Kutscher, Berks County Democrats, Committeeman, Exeter

Chris Tarsa, Lebanon County Democrats, Chairman

Lani Frank, Democratic State Committeewoman, Chester County

Brad Kirsch, Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee Senior Caucus

Diane O’Dwyer,  Chester County Democrats, Leader Zone 25

Dave McLimans, Chester County Democrats, Leader Zone 4, Chester County Labor Council President

Stephanie Beemer McLimans, Chester County Democrats, Assistant Leader Zone 4, PA Democratic State Committeewoman

Bret Binder, Chester County Committeeman, West Chester

Bob Roggio, former Candidate PA-6

Bill Tricoski, Berks County Committeeman, Bechtelsville

Cindy Tricoski, Berks County Committeewoman, Bechtelsville

Mark Banfield, West Pikeland, Chester County Democratic Committeeperson

Diane Welsh,  Chester County Democrats, Assistant Leader Zone 25

Adam Swope –  Chester County Democrats, Leader Zone 11

Bernice Hines Corbit- Berks County Democratic Committeewoman, Exeter

Sue Shaak, Berks County Democratic Committeewoman, St. Lawrence

Laura Henkle-Sauer, Berks County Democratic Committeewoman, St. Lawrence

 

Gerlach Campaign Plays Race Card Against Trivedi

Jim Gerlach has a history of playing for keeps and a reputation for climbing into the gutter against his Democratic Congressional opponents but this time he has sunk as low as one can go:  attacking his opponent’s ethnicity.  Mark Campbell, spokesman for the 6th CD Member of Congress told The Hill that Manan Trivedi “doesn’t share our values” and criticized him for fund raising within his Indian-American community.  Those are veiled racial attaqcks using code words understood by the right wing.  “Doesn’t share our values” means “isn’t one of us.”  Why can’t a candidate who is a direct descendant of immigrants raise funds from that community?  Cannot Chinese Americans accept campaign contributions from other Asians?  Irish from other Irish?  Perhaps Gerlach shouldn’t be raising money within the white community?  Of course these are ridiculous scenarios.  The statement by Campbell:

What we are saying is that Trivedi is a far-left fringe candidate who does not share the common-sense values of the taxpayers, families or seniors of the 6th district,” said Gerlach campaign spokesman Mark Campbell.

“The only one who has played the race card here is him, by going to Indian-American groups to raise money,” said Campbell.

Accusing Indian-American Manan Trivedi of doing what any candidate can do, raise money from those people likely to support him (or her) is race baiting in this case because Gerlach is saying going to his own immigrant community is bad.  Can no woman candidate go to EMILY’S List or raise money from women’s groups?  This was Jim Gerlach playing the race card against Trivedi, something everyone in the District knew was coming.  The only surprise here is that Gerlach was so open in his attack.  Next thing we know he’ll be running commercials showing Manan wearing a turban and claiming he’s the new Osama Bin Laden.

Update:  Manan Trivedi issued this response to the Gerlach statement:  “These are hardworking American who pay their taxes and contribute to society.  Congressman Gerlach’s campaign is saying that somehow they aren’t good enough to participate in our democracy.  Like many Americans I am so proud of my heritage and grateful for all of the support I’ve received and believe absolutely no one, for any reason, should ever feel shut out of the democratic process.”

Meanwhile Congresswomen Allyson Schwartz and Deborah Wasserman Schultz have issued statements:

From Schwartz:  “Like many others, I was appalled at the racially insensitive comment made by the Gerlach campaign. What is worse though, is that Congressman Gerlach has remained silent, neither refuting the statement or taking appropriate action regarding his staff.

“Jim Gerlach has clearly lost touch with our area if he thinks that these racially insensitive comments are going to help him win him this election. People rightfully should expect their Representatives to encourage greater participation of all Americans in the democratic process, as voters, volunteers, and supporters. Jim Gerlach should immediately refute his campaign’s racially insensitive comments towards Indian Americans and take appropriate action regarding his staff.”

From Wasserman-Schultz:

“Congressman Gerlach’s campaign’s statements are offensive to everyone, these are American citizens who want to play an active part in the democratic process and they support Manan Trivedi because they believe in his candidacy. Is it playing the race card when I fundraise in the Jewish community?  Would he call it “playing the race card” when Italian-Americans give to Italian-American candidates, or Irish-Americans to Irish-American candidates?  If this person were on my staff I would fire him and/or Congressman Gerlach should fire this person and/or Congressman Gerlach should apologize.”

The person for whom we’re waiting a statement is Jim Gerlach himself.

Doug Pike’s Credibility Problem

I was appalled last week when Doug Pike, a former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer clamped down on media coverage of his debate with Manan Trivedi.  I also discovered his campaign manager “forcefully” insisted upon no video at Monday’s debate in Kutztown.  Aside from the obvious hypocrisy of a former journalist trying to blind the public to coverage of his campaign and a lack of transparency the way his campaign manager lied to me then ran the event organizers under the bus was appalling.  I’ve done a bit of research since and one of Pike’s major claims is, well, not quite false, but ridden with credibility problems.

Andrew Eldredge-Martin replied to my request for comment on the video ban by first insisting it was the organizer’s idea and rule, not theirs.  He later changed his story and said “we pushed for this.”  Oops, can someone say flip flop?  Then he went back and blamed the organizers after I published his statement of “we pushed for this.”  He even had one of the organizers call me.  The problem is I knew about the rule before I went to Narberth to cover the event.  I then told Drew before the debate began that I’d be videoing it and he failed to inform me of the rule.  I gave him a chance before hand to come clean and he failed.  I gave him a chance the next day to come clean and he lied.

This is the same man who has been caught misrepresenting himself on blogs impersonating average citizens denigrating Pike’s competitor Manan Trivedi.  He was outed by DavidNYC but refused to apologize.  The fact is the Pike campaign continues to sock puppet online while issuing a hypocritical challenge to Trivedi to run a clean campaign.  I call that another credibility issue.

The largest credibility issue is Doug Pike’s claim he spent “10 years as President of a hospital and nursing home.”  He mentioned this in his opening remarks in Narberth and his campaign repeats it ad nauseum.  I took this to mean he actually led and managed a major hospital, something like Abington, Paoli Memorial, Lankenau…  It was an addiction treatment center on Long Island and he wasn’t the President, except of the Board of Trustees.  That’s a major, significant difference.  Dan Hirschhorn of PA2010 also has an issue with this facet of Pike’s biography.  The Pike campaign bragged about this in this press release published on PoliticsPA.

There are numerous examples here of credibility issues:  being extremely disingenuous about his “hospital management background,” misrepresenting themselves online, calling for clean campaigning after maliciously deriding their competitor online without truthfully disclosing their identities (actually trying to hid anonymously), then lying to me about the video rules.  They’ve been caught lying too many times now and that calls into question the candidate’s integrity.