On Tuesday, former House Speakers Bill DeWeese and John Perzel were issued public demerits in the form of gold plaques hung beneath their Capitol portraits. That same day, a court filing specified charges in current state Senator Leanna Washington’s corruption trial. What do these seemingly unrelated events have in common?
In any investigation, one must first gather the facts:
- Senior Deputy Attorney General Susan DiGiacomo said Sen. Washington’s crime was “using state paid employees to plan and organize her campaign fund-raiser during state workdays” and charged Washington with “theft of services” and “conflict of interest.”
- John Perzel, released from prison in March after serving two years behind bars, “orchestrated an illegal scheme to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on developing massive voter databases and customized software that were designed to give Republican legislative candidates an electoral advantage.”
- As for DeWeese, Karen Langley at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, “Prosecutors said he used public resources for political gain by compelling legislative workers to do campaign work.”
It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to sense the pattern: Each came under legal scrutiny for using taxpayer dollars for campaign politics—a clear-cut crime… at least for legislators.
Also this week, the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) released the latest edition of their magazine The Voice. In it, PSEA endorses Tom Wolf for governor and urges members to donate to PACE, their political action committee (PAC). That money is then donated to Wolf’s campaign. Indeed, he received more than $1.6 million in government union contributions in the month following the primary election.
Unrelated? Hardly. Let’s do some deduction.
The union dues money used to produce and distribute The Voice and the political campaign money it solicits is all collected using taxpayer resources. Worse, buried on page 24 is a notice telling members that 12 percent of their dues—which equals more than $7 million—will be spent on politics in just one year.
But a quick trip to my mind palace (AKA, Google) reveals that a few weeks ago, PSEA spokesman Wythe Keever told Scott Kraus at The Morning Call, “Dues aren’t used for political activity, other than to provide members with a list of supported candidates.”
Really? Something doesn’t add up.
How can government unions brazenly do what brings legislators public shaming and jail time?
Why can government union leaders get away with denying that dues are used for politics yet tell their members that $7 million will be spent on the same?
Are they Moriarty-like masterminds or are they simply not being held to the same standards everyone else—legislators and taxpayers alike—must live by?
The answer is… elementary. You’ll find it in our paycheck protection toolkit and you won’t need a magnifying glass.