How Rendell Gets Shills

In each of their “budget updates” (see: this one or this one) the Department of Public Welfare ends with this line

“For information on how to support funding for this critical program visit the non-partisan Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center at”

Yes, that’s right, a taxpayer-funded agency is directing to a “non-partisan” group that lobbies for more funds for said taxpayer-funded agency.

Hmmm… I wonder why the PBPC supports every single Rendell proposal. (Note: A supporter sent us this, wondering why Commonwealth Foundation didn’t receive equal billing on DPW press releases…)

The news service Capitolwire (subscription) put together a story on this after I alerted them to it, and got some pretty entertaining quotes.

The DPW spokesman says

“[Benefield] seems to take anything he dislikes and slaps ‘lobbying’ on it. It makes me question whether he knows what lobbying is.”

Uh oh, maybe I’m in over my head here. Maybe the PA Department of State can bail me out with the definition of “lobbying” in the new lobbying disclosure law, which pretty much applies to everything the PBPC does:

“Lobbying.” An effort to influence legislative action or administrative action. The term includes:
(1) providing any gift, entertainment, meal, transportation or lodging to a State official or employee for the purpose of advancing the interest of the lobbyist or principal; and
(2) direct or indirect communication.

And PBPC’s Chris Lilienthal spokesman denies that they always support support Gov. Rendell’s agenda giving the example of Gov. Rendell’s natural gas severance tax. That is to say they supported it in 2009, when Gov. Rendell proposed it, and again in 2010, when he proposed it again – but when he withdrew it from budget negotiations late last year, they were totally at odds with the Governor, even asking him to return the BFF bracelet they had given him.