The Corrupt Hershey Trust: Stop Eating Kisses

Milton S. Hershey not only built a multinational confection company but left his entire fortune to at risk children.  Creating The Hershey Trust to educate and care for orphans was the legacy he left.  The Milton Hershey School owns a controlling interest in the candy company and earnings from sales of Hershey bars, Kisses, York Peppermint Patties and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups fueled the school for decades until a small elite group of Republicans saw it as a cash cow for their politics.  

Former Attorney General Leroy Zimmerman, father-in-law of current AG candidate David Freed, gained access to the Board of Directors and eventually became its Chair.  In that capacity he hugely increased the compensation of Board members and stocked the Board with GOP heavyweights with no expertise in early child development or education.  Zimmerman eventually racked his pay up to $500,000/year.  Other Board members were also unjustly compensated.  Much of that money turned up in campaign contributions to Republican candidates.  Pennsylvania, infamously, has no limits on campaign contributions to non-federal candidates.

The Hershey Trust became a slush fund for the Pennsylvania GOP.  Worse, its mission to provide for and educate orphans was liberalized to the point where it became just another prep school where disadvantaged kids were left out in the cold.

The Hershey Trust Board then began engaging in criminal fraud.  They bought a local golf course in severe financial trouble at triple its value.  One of the beneficiaries of their largesse was the CEO of Hershey Foods, a clear conflict of interest.  After blowing $13 million on something with no connection to education they burned another $5 million on a Scottish style clubhouse.  Why did the Board overpay for a failing business venture?  Its local owners were prominent Republicans who, we assume, used some of their newfound funds for campaign contributions.

This was a sweet deal:  churning money supposedly for educating poor children to their political allies and further cementing their status as major players.  Prominent Republicans such as Tom Ridge and Tom Corbett have benefited.  Lynn Swann, a defeated candidate for Governor wound up a Board member.

This is an important issue today because the state Attorney General’s office has been investigating the Trust.  This investigation is similar to that of Jerry Sandusky in that its taking far too long to complete.  It also involves the welfare of children.  David Freed, the GOP candidate for Attorney General, is the son-in-law of Leroy Zimmerman the chief target of the investigation.  It would be a clear conflict of interest.

What can you do?  Don’t vote for Freed and stop buying Hershey products until this slush fund is stopped.

News & Notes October 24, 2012

I had an idea for an election game which I passed on to the Obama campaign this morning.  It’s called Romnesia Bingo and every time Mitt flip flops on a key issue you find that position on your card and get the block.  When you get BINGO you lose something instead of winning:  your Pell grant, veterans benefits, food stamps, Medicare, Social Security, unemployment, etc.

Another independent group is running ads in the Attorney general race.  This time the target is David Freed and the ad is running in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.

Republicans have launched a massive election fraud effort this year.  Voter Id was just part of it.  In Ohio billboards went up trying to intimidate minorities from voting.  In Arizona’s Ottawa County mailers went out to 2300 voters giving them the wrong date for the election.  Another Arizona county sent mailers which, in their Spanish (the English part was correct) gave the wrong date for the election.

Here in Pennsylvania confusion continues as to Voter ID.  Gov. Corbett has refused to expend enough to re-educate voters about the current law.  After spending $10 million before the courts struck down his voter suppression bill he should be matching that amount to inform voters they don’t need a photo ID next month.  How many eligible voters might not vote because they think they need ID?  I stopped in at Berks County Election Services this morning and Deb Olivieri told me there remains much confusion locally.  She also said they’ve processed 35,000 voter registration forms for the election.

One of Richard Mellon Scaife’s newspapers continues telling voters they need ID.  They don’t.  Shame on this war mongering liar.

A Federal Appeals court blocked Indiana’s law defunding Planned Parenthood.

Erie State Senate candidate Janet Anderson still hasn’t come clean about her “employment” status.

If you missed the foreign policy debate here’s a short primer:

State Representative Tarah Toohil is under attack in a YouTube video showing her with drug paraphernalia:

The Boy Scout perversion files include former Scout leaders who never were accused of molesting scouts.  Why were they on the list?  They were gay.

Not that Sarah Palin is racist or anything, why would we ever think that?  But she did just accuse President Obama for a “shuck and jive” on Libya.  Interesting racist choice of words…

A debate of alternative candidates for President was held this week.

I’m not implying that Paul Ryan may not be the sharpest tack in the room but he doesn’t understand Obama’s “horses and bayonets” comment from Monday’s debate.  Would someone please explain it to him?

Gov. Corbett got a mysterious $1.5 million donation from the Republican Governors Association in which the original donors aren’t known.  It is illegal for state candidates to accept corporate contributions and the RGA raises money from them.  Is Tom Corbett crooked?

News & Notes October 18, 2012

The Koch brothers and other billionaire company owners are using intimidation and threats to get their employees to vote Republican.  I thought voter intimidation was illegal?

Joe Pitts sent me a mailer today.  Has he forgotten who I am?  Why would he waste money trying to get my vote and claim he’s working to create jobs.  That what GOP Congressional candidates promised in 2010.  They, including Pitts, proceeded to block every job bill submitted by the president.  These assholes vowed to force the President to fail by filibustering every bill in the senate then turn around and blame HIM for the lackluster job creation numbers.  I thought conservatives believed in personal responsibility?

Mitt Romney blamed parents for violence done by their children during the debate.  Then his 42 year old son said he wanted to slug the president.

Any woman who votes for Mitt deserves what she’s going to get.  By the way, it won’t be a job.  More likely, if you’re a woman, voting for Romney will cost you your job.  Signing the Ryan Budget will slash government programs, many of which are staffed by women.  Cuts in education will cost female teachers their jobs.  Tax cuts will deepen the recession causing more layoffs.

Mitt syas he’ll cut taxes for the rich and won’t increase them for the middle class.  Guess who that leaves to pick up the tab?  Poor people.  Here’s a basic economics lesson:  you tax money.  Poor people don’t have any.

The state House was busy at the end of its session for the year.  After taking all summer off our hard working Representatives are off for the rest of the year.  Don’t you wish you had a job like that?  A charter school reform bill went unpassed.  It would have strengthened ethics and reporting for these bloodsuckers.

A gas chamber ban for animal shelters did pass.

A Senate bill allowing companies to keep your state income tax withholding is on a path for passage.  This would create a new Delaware type loophole for out of state corporations putting local firms at a competitive disadvantage.  It also robs taxpayers of their contributions to state government.

Sen. Larry Farnese is justly proud of his bill outlawing straw purchases of guns.  The bill strengthens current law.

Gov. Gasbag says he will sign a bill criminalizing sexting by teens.  There’s nothing like forcing kids into court for being young and dumb.  That’s it, give them a criminal record for showing their tits.

One of the few good things to be accomplished by this radical conservative state House was the voting down of a bill violating the Fourth Amendment.  It would have authorized police to obtain DNA samples, without warrants to search person’s bodies, for even summary offenses.  The ACLU said this today:  The government is constitutionally mandated to explain to a court why it wants to search someone,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “This bill undermined that fundamental liberty by allowing warrantless searches of a person’s body.”

The US Court of Appeals for the Second District struck down DOMA today.  It says it violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.  From the American Foundation for Equal Rights:  

“Today’s decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit continues the unceasing momentum toward marriage equality for all Americans and affirms that discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans is unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional.  The body of evidence in support of marriage equality is clear and convincing.  This decision, as well previous decisions in other DOMA cases and in our federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, signals that the arguments opposing the recognition of marriage for gay and lesbian Americans have no legal basis.  With today’s ruling, we are one step closer to the day when marriage equality is a reality for every American.”

I ran into a Birther yesterday while getting my Element inspected.  He insisted that President Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya.  As evidence he cited his wedding ring with its Arabic inscription saying “there is no God but Allah.”  This is yet another myth created by Faux News.  I explained to him that he’s been brainwashed.  I won’t waste precious breaths trying to reason with fools who have chosen to live in a parallel universe where there is no reality.

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman is retiring and his seat is being contested by former Congresswoman Heather Wilson (disgraced in the GonzalesGate scandal) and Congressman Martin Heinrich.  Spanish normally win elections in The Land of Enchantment.  They have a saying in Santa Fe:  “the Indians have the land, the Spanish have government and the Anglos have the money.”  Democrat Heinrich is leading in the polls rather nicely.  They debated last evening.  I’m hoping to interview both outgoing Sen. Bingaman and incoming Sen. Heinrich next month while in Santa Fe.

Former Sen. George McGovern entered hospice care earlier this week and now is reported as being unresponsive.  He ran for president in 1972 against Richard Nixon.  A paranoid President sent a team of bungling burglars into Democratic headquarters in the Watergate.  The rest was history.

Berks Democrats keep embarrassing themselves.  This time Democratic DA John Adams endorsed Republican Attorney General candidate David Freed.  Another one may be financing the campaign of a Tea party candidate against a fellow Democrat.  I’m digging into campaign finance reports on that one.

Don’t trust those polls allegedly showing the race getting close in our Commonwealth.  If Obama thought there was any chance of losing our 20 electoral votes he’d be here along with Bruce Springsteen and Bill Clinton.  Meanwhile Mitt Romney sent his Pennsylvania spokesman on to Virginia.

Speaking of Virginia that state’s Health Commissioner resigned today over new abortion clinic regulations going into effect.  Gov. Bob McDonnell is trying to convince women to vote for Mitt but he can’t keep his head of Health because he’s so extreme on women’s women’s reproductive rights.  From the Associated Press:

Virginia Health Commissioner Karen Remley has resigned over the state’s controversial new abortion clinic regulations.

Remley submitted her resignation to Gov. Bob McDonnell Thursday. Her resignation is effective immediately.

Remley said in the letter that issues surrounding the development and enforcement of the clinic regulations have created an environment that compromises her ability to fulfill her duties. She did not elaborate.

The state Board of Health last month adopted regulations that require existing abortion clinics in Virginia to meet the same construction standards as new hospitals. Abortion-rights advocates argued the strict standards could force most clinics out of business.

Here in Pennsylvania our Dept. of Health has granted waivers to abortion clinics for many of the onerous new regulations forced upon them by Senate bill 732.

David Freed’s Conflict of Interest

Leroy Zimmerman is being investigated for his misconduct as Chair of the Hershey Trust.  Milton S. Hershey, founder of Hershey Foods, created the trust to insure his financial fortune would be used to fund the Milton Hershey School for orphans.  The Trust invested in a golf course and overpaid by millions.  They wasted multiple millions in the failure which should have been used, as directed by the will and the Trust by laws, for the school.  $17 million was expended to purchase the wren Dale Golf Course (which was failing) and to build a clubhouse.   The price was inflated by two or three times its appraisal.  One of the investors in the failed operation was Hershey Company President Richard Lenny.

Leroy Zimmerman made millions as Chair of the Board of The Hershey Trust.  He is David Freed’s father-in-law.

How will Attorney General David Freed escape the obvious conflict of interest as The Hershey Trust’s activities, managed by his father-in-law are investigated and prosecuted?

Freed to Violate Penn State Rules at Fundraiser

David Freed, GOP candidate for Attorney General is showing a shocking disregard for rules.  He will have a tailgate fundraiser this Saturday at the Penn State/Temple football game.  Penn State does not allow its facilities to be used for political events like these.  Greenlee Partners is hosting it for him in violation of PSU’s rules and regulations.  Suggested donations are $500/couple.

How does violating the rules and regulations of  a public institution qualify one to be Attorney General?  I think it disqualifies Mr. Freed.

Labor: Kane is Anti-Union

UFCW Local 1776 called Kathleen Kane on her opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act today.  John Meyerson of the UFCW and President of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation released this statement following Kane’s assertion on PCN that ” I am not a supporter of Card Check.”

“For weeks, candidate Kathleen Kane has sought to distance herself from her company’s stridently anti-union practices and rhetoric, but her recent comments show that she is every bit as anti-worker as her company, Kane is Able. On Tuesday evening’s PCN Call-In, Kane echoed her company’s previous statements by voicing adamant opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act.

The Employee Free Choice Act is the best way to ensure workers are free to organize and collectively bargain, without fear of workplace intimidation or threats to their livelihood. EFCA would allow the employees of Kathleen’s company to decide for themselves if they want to join a union. It is no wonder she is opposed to the bill.

What’s worse, Kathleen insists that because she grew up in a union household, she is pro-union. It’s time to set the record straight. You can’t run an anti-union company, fund your campaign entirely with money from anti-union executives, oppose laws vital to working families, and still claim to be pro-union. Excuse the pun, but I’m tired of this anti-union trucking exec getting a free ride. It is time someone called this what it is – a deliberate attempt to deceive voters on one of the most important issues of this election.”

Kane’s most recent statement echoes the previous anti-worker statements made by her company, including those of Harry Drajpuch, Chief Operating Officer of Kane is Able, wrote in the official newsletter of Kane is Able, “The Employee Free Choice Act will make it easier for unions to ‘represent’ you, with all the corruption and associated union dues you’ll be forced to pay.” – [Kane is Able Cable, July 2009, Vol. 1]

In a related matter why is Kathleen Kane signing her emails as “Pennsylvania Attorney General?”  Linda Kelly is the Pennsylvania Attorney General.


Kane Lies Abouts Attacks on Murphy Military Record

Kathleen Kane went on PCN last evening and spoke about the importance of upholding the public trust.  She then violated it to voters by lying to them.  When asked about a campaign staffer questioning Patrick Murphy’s military record she said her campaign had NEVER done so.  She also said she didn’t know where that report originated.  It originated here after a disturbing conversation I had with her Communications Manager Joshua Morrow.

Mr. Morrow called me on March 5 and I called him back.  I recall this clearly, I was parked outside a Wawa in North East, MD at the time.  He threatened me about a press release I had posted about Kane from the Murphy campaign, saying I had to delete it because it wasn’t true.  (I checked and it was entirely accurate.)  I then warned him about the dangerous ground they (the Kane campaign) were treading questioning Patrick’s service record.  I said they were alienating veterans and the blowback was hurting them, especially when Murphy explained he’d prosecuted terrorists.

The Kane campaign not only questioned his military service but his fitness to pass the bar.  Morrow told me the Minnesota test their opponent took to qualify for the bar was easier than Pennsylvania’s and said Murphy took it for that reason.  Morrow then attacked Murphy’s claim to have prosecuted terrorists.  He said, then repeated several times, that since he served for four years he wouldn’t have been assigned such important cases.  Josh went on to claim that Murphy was in the Airborne for two years before joining the JAG Corps and therefore, with only two years experience in JAG, wouldn’t have prosecuted terrorists.

The Murphy campaign then sent me the commendation for his service detailing those cases.

I wrote this article because the Kane campaign lied to me.  They told me the claim by Murphy that she had filed campaign contributions listing herself as an executive with Kane Is Able, their anti-union trucking company, was inaccurate.  I researched the FEC files and found ten contributions where Kathleen Kane listed herself as such.

The Kane campaign lies.  They cannot be trusted and the last thing we need is a liar as Attorney General.  I demand a full public apology from Ms. Kane for lying about me.

Kathleen Kane: Parking Ticket Deadbeat?

As a prosecutor Kathleen Kane’s responsibility is to insure we all pay for our crimes and that she be an upstanding citizen obeying all civil and criminal laws.  Why then did she have fifteen parking tickets dismissed?  Gort42 has the story.  When a parking ticket is issued the registration (plate number) is recorded and if it isn’t paid within a certain period (ten days?) then it goes to a local Magistrate Court for prosecution.  Around here that might mean a constable showing up at your door with an arrest warrant.  I’m not sure what the procedure is in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties but I’m sure it’s similar.

Of course if the vehicle belongs to someone else or isn’t properly, legally registered, that poses a problem for the court.  The owner can say it wasn’t their ticket and have an opportunity to go to court and prove that fact.  More likely in this case, Kane didn’t update her registered, as required by law, when she relocated.  Therefore the court couldn’t locate the owner and dismissed the tickets.  Fifteen of them…  Or, she used her position to avoid paying her fines.

Which is it?  We already know Kane flaunts federal election law so why not local parking regulations?  The locations of the tickets issued could be interesting, were they near the courthouse?  Her favorite lunch hangout?  Her virulently anti-union trucking company Kane Is Able?

Who in the world gets so many tickets in the first place?  Responsible drivers and citizens don’t keep parking illegally.  Does she think her position sets her above the law?  What does that say about her fitness to be Attorney General?  I’d pose these queries directly to her campaign but they don’t return my calls any longer.  They aren’t good at answering questions about their candidate’s integrity though they are good at throwing threats at those who do it.

This really isn’t what we need in a public servant, even on a local level.  Is this the best her county can do for a DA?

Lehigh Valley Officials Endorse Patrick Murphy

A slew of elected Democrats from the Lehigh Valley convened at the Hamilton Family Restaurant to endorse Patrick Murphy for Attorney General.  City Council members, State Representatives, Mayors and Controllers were among the audience there to show support in a contested primary for the office.  Kathleen Kane, a highly qualified prosecutor is also running for the nomination along with former Congressman and Auditor General Don Bailey.

Northampton County Controller Steve Barron emceed the event and speakers included Bob Freeman, Sal Panto and Ed Pawlowski.

Patrick and Steve:

Teaching a toddler to high five:

Mayor Pawlowski:

Mayor Panto:

County Chair Walt Garvin (and my fellow co-host at Democratic Talk Radio) with Rep. Bob Freeman: