Republicans Choose Argall

The special election to select the late Jim Rhoades’ successor will have Rep. Dave Argall square off against Schuylkill County Clerk of Courts Steve Lukash.  The final vote by Democratic County Committees is not yet complete but no other Democrat has stepped forward to seek the nomination.  Several county committees have already voted as a whole to support Lukash.

The assumption among many was that nepotism would rule the day in the GOP process but Dave Argall proved them wrong.  Chris Hobbs, Rhoades’ son in law assumed he would inherit the seat but others thought differently.  He gave no compelling reason for Republicans to support him over the other five candidates.

GOP State Senate Candidate Violates Election Law

The Republican candidate for the 11th State Senate seat held by Mike O’Pake has scattered Berks County with illegal campaign signs.  Steve Fuhs is prohibited by law from accepting campaign contributions from corporations.  Why then do these Fuhs signs say “Paid for by Strategic Reports, Inc?”

He even printed the “Inc.” on the signs!

A close up shot of the disclosure:

There are no disbursements on Fuhs’ campaign finance disclosure reports to such a company so this constitutes an illegal corporate campaign contribution.  Even had the Republican candidate paid Strategic Reports to print the signs this would be illegal because the entire idea of disclosure laws is to educate voters as to who is paying for political signs, fliers, etc.  

This was either a blatant attempt by Steve Fuhs to keep from telling voters these are his signs, paid for by his campaign or it is a blatant violation of state campaign finance law.  Both tell us enough about Steve Fuhs though.

Dark Days For Fumo: Second Computer Tech Cops Plea

A second computer technician ordered to delete emails and other incriminating documents at the State Senate computer lab pled guilty yesterday.  Vince Fumo allegedly ordered Mark Eister and Leonard Luchko to obstruct an FBI investigation into $3.5 million he skimmed from taxpayers, a museum and his non profit organization for his personal expenses.

The federal corruption case resulted in Fumo’s dropping out of his re-election bid.  Eister and Luchko will be testifying against the Senator in his upcoming trial and its difficult to see how he can explain their actions.  The U.S. Attorney’s office was looking into a $17 million contribution given to the non profit by PECO Energy allegedly at the Senator’s demand.  The computer techs were charged with deleting that evidence.

Vince Fumo, a millionaire in his own right, was obsessed with using “other people’s money” and it brought down a great and influential career in Harrisburg.  Let this be a reminder to all there that arrogance and hubris can be your downfall.

Luchko Pleads, Will Testify Against Fumo

Democratic Senator Vince Fumo is facing a tougher and tougher trial as another former aide copped a plea yesterday and will testify against the powerful Senator from Philadelphia.  Leonard Luchko formally pled to conspiring with Fumo to destroy evidence in the form of emails and other documents implicating Vinnie in corruption charges filed by Federal authorities.

The charges claim Fumo, a rich man in his own right, was obsessed with spending “other people’s money” instead and tapped into $2 million of tax dollars and other funds controlled by a non profit and museum he controlled.  Destroying the emails made it impossible for the FBI to gain evidence on millions he may have allegedly tried to extort from PECO Energy and Verizon for his non profit.  PECO gave his non profit $17 million.  Without the evidence, of course, those charges couldn’t be added to the 139 counts that were, indeed, filed.

Regola Withdraws From Re-Election

State Senator Bob Regola, coming off his controversial trial for perjury and obstruction withdrew from his re-election race yesterday.  August 11th was the final day candidates could withdraw and allow their Parties to choose a replacement.  After that they can still withdraw but their names would remain on the ballot.

Regola was charged and found not guilty after his gun, which he obviously bought for his teenage son and allowed him to keep, was used by a neighbor to commit suicide.  Regola was not implicated in the death but he sought to block and obstruct the police investigation from its onset.  That isn’t something a State Senator can or should be able to explain to voters.

It is now up to the Westmoreland County Republican Committee to select a replacement candidate.

Regola Acquitted

Sen. Robert Regola, in a case followed closely at this blog, was acquitted by a jury Friday of perjury and other charges in the death of neighbor Louis Farrell.  Regola told police he didn’t allow his handgun to be kept in his teen son’s room.  Friends of his son testified he did.  The State Senator was charged with lying to a coroner’s inquest and State Police in the investigation into the suicide death of the neighbor teen.

It is illegal for Regola to have allowed his son to keep a handgun.  For some unexplainable reason the jury acquitted this man despite reliable witnesses and evidence to the contrary.  The only accountability now for Regola will be at the hands of the voters.

Harrisburg Guts Smoking Ban

Lawmakers in Harrisburg are set to pass a gutted, compromised anti-smoking ban which exempts scores of public places, especially slots casinos which suddenly seem to be running Pennsylvania.  Municipalities which already have bans in place (only Philadelphia) will have theirs grandfathered.

I was speaking with someone recently who is a smoker and ardent opponent of such legislation.  For the smokers out there I have this argument:  you say I don’t have the right to tell you where you can and cannot smoke.  I say you don’t have the right to give me cancer.  My right trumps yours.  Go ahead and give yourself lung cancer and die an agonizing death but do not impose that on me unwillingly.

Smokers are also some of the filthiest people I know.  They discard their trash, packs and butts, everywhere with no regard for anyone else.  Most of the trash littering our highways and byways is from smokers.  All of us routinely watch smokers flip their butts out car windows.  This is littering and, I believe, subject to a $100 fine.  A call to 1-888-Litterbug with their license number will elicit a fine.

I’m fed up coming home and having my clothing wreak of cigarette smoke.  I’ve ceased patronizing businesses which allow smoking and endanger my health and that of their employees and customers.  I’m fed up with the empty cigarette packs littering our yard along the roadway.  Allow us to breathe freely.