What little confidence my neighbors tell me they have in Harrisburg has been shaken once again with the recent indictment of the House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese's Chief of Staff and his Deputy Leader, along with 10 other Democratic caucus staff members.
These indictments allege that taxpayer dollars were used to run campaigns, including out of the Capitol Building itself. Not only was this behavior tolerated, it was encouraged and rewarded with bonuses paid for at taxpayer expense.
After the pay raise scandal, the mismanagement of new slot machine parlors and this, it is no wonder that we, as citizens and taxpayers, have lost faith. We can do better.
Recently, I released eight common-sense, non-partisan ideas to clean-up Harrisburg and restore the public trust. I pledge that, as your State Representative, I will push for each of these reforms to become law. Now I urge my opponent, Paul Drucker, to join with me -- and I encourage other candidates of all parties to join this effort as well.
Before we can have real reform though, we must change the House's failed leadership. That is why I am repeating my call for House Majority Leader William DeWeese to resign as Leader. He was either complicit in the scandal or asleep at the switch. Either way, no serious reforms can take place until he steps aside. While Mr. Drucker has refused to do so in the past, I call on him to join this call that has been supported by legislators of both parties.
Here are eight common sense, non-partisan ideas:
Ban all lobbyist gifts to legislators and their staffs, rather than argue over "how big" a gift can be. (Senate Bill 1488)
Prohibit all bonuses for House and Senate employees. (Senate Bill 986)
Prohibit House and Senate employees from serving as Treasurers or officers of campaign committees or political action committees.
Prohibit the use of tax dollars in paying for the defense of elected officials or staff in criminal cases.
End gerrymandering and make sure Senate and House seats are drawn as the Framers intended rather than for political means. (House Bill 2420)
Require governmental elected official and staff salary information to be posted online
Require the House and Senate caucus "surpluses" -- now valued at approximately $240 million -- be returned to the state treasury, or to the taxpayers.
Ban the use of taxpayer money for automated "robo-calls"
Finally, I conclude with this pledge to you: "Regardless of whether or not these legislative initiatives pass into law, they will be the law in my office. Neither I nor any of my staff will accept lobbyist gifts; nor will I award staff bonuses. And, no member of my staff will be permitted to serve as Treasurer of any campaign or political committee."
In our democracy, voters of all parties and philosophies may disagree on the major issues of the day. But, all voters must have faith in the system and the women and men elected to serve us. The common-sense, non-partisan steps outlined above take us in the direction.
Candidate, Pennsylvania State House