Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Sestak Clarifies Controversial "Earmark" Timeline

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak reached out to PhillyClout this afternoon to clarify his explanation from earlier this week about a $350,000 federal spending "earmark" that has been seized on by his Republican opponent in the race for the U.S. Senate, former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey. Sestak told us Monday that he had no idea the earmark, requested in February in the name of the non-profit Thomas Paine Foundation of Media was linked to a for-profit corporation, New Way Energy LLC in Aston.

Sestak Clarifies Controversial "Earmark" Timeline

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak tried to clarify his explanation from earlier this week about a $350,000 federal spending "earmark." (AP File Photo)
U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak tried to clarify his explanation from earlier this week about a $350,000 federal spending "earmark." (AP File Photo)

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak reached out to PhillyClout this afternoon to clarify his explanation from earlier this week about a $350,000 federal spending "earmark" that has been seized on by his Republican opponent in the race for the U.S. Senate, former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey.  Sestak told us Monday that he had no idea the constituent who requested the earmark in February in the name of the non-profit Thomas Paine Foundation of Media was also linked to a for-profit corporation, New Way Energy LLC in Aston.

Turns out that's not exactly correct.  Sestak just released a letter that he sent to the U.S. Department of Energy on April 12 that clearly connects the non-profit organization to the for-profit company.  Sestak also released the initial application for the funding, to pay for construction of a prototype for a vertical axis wind turbine, which has a less definitive connection between the non-profit and for-profit.

In the application, Thomas Paine Foundation founder Drew Devitt notes that "many of the employees of New Wave Energy (which will manufacture the VAWT demonstration model) are located" in Sestak's Congressional District.  What Devitt doesn't note is that he is the sole officer for both the non-profit and the for-profit.

Sestak said Devitt asked him after the earmark request was filed to write a letter of introduction to the Department of Energy.  Sestak said Devitt wrote the letter using a standard format from his Congressional office.  Here's the first line: "I am writing to introduce you to Drew Devitt, the founder and chairman of New Way Energy LLC, a company located in Aston, PA and suggest you meet with the app."  That letter goes on to say the project is being "developed in conjunction with [Devitt's] non-profit organization, the Thomas Paine Foundation.

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Sestak said he "failed to catch in the letter" the connection between the non-profit and for-profit.  The U.S. House in March instituted a rule that earmarks can be made for non-profit groups but not for-profit companies.  "I just didn't put the two together," Sestak told us. "It was my error."

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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