You perhaps have heard that many of your state lawmakers relish relationships with lobbyists who contribute to their campaigns.
You might even know that some lawmakers seek out service on specific legislative committees that draw the attention of moneyed interests.
Well, here’s a little tale from Campaign 2016 that won’t disabuse you of suspicions related to stuff you’ve heard or know.
It’s also a cautionary tale for lawmakers seeking newspaper endorsements.
State Rep. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna County, recently visited the Scranton Times-Tribune editorial board hoping for its support in his reelection.
He’s 41, a Scranton native, a former county prison guard and was, for 10 years, a professional super middleweight boxer.
He was elected to the state House in 2012. He’s already won reelection once. And as a Democrat in a Democratic area (Lackawanna County is two-to-one Democratic) who, as far as I know, is scandal-free, you’d think he’d be in pretty good shape to win his hometown paper’s backing.
But he mucked it up.
The Times-Tribune, in an editorial last week, endorsed Flynn’s Republican opponent, David Burgerhoff.
It clearly wasn’t impressed with Flynn. In fact it said Flynn’s views show the need to reduce the size of the Legislature and make its members part-time.
Here’s what the newspaper published: “In a meeting with the editorial board, Mr. Flynn revealed a remarkable mind-set. Asked to state his priorities for the next two-year session, Mr. Flynn struggled to do so.”
Wait, it gets worse.
Asked about his legislative committee assignments, he named two (he serves on five, including Consumer Affairs, Commerce and Gaming Oversight).
He named Fish and Game (which is actually Game & Fisheries) and Insurance.
Then, according to the editorial, he said this: “What I like about insurance is it’s a good fundraising committee. They keep you abreast of all the local issues. It’s a good committee to fundraise from. Fish and Game, there’s not a lot of support.”
The editorial goes on: “Your average insurance industry lobbyist has more cash than your average fisherman to bestow upon politicians. But Mr. Flynn’s view that the value of his assignment involves collecting that cash to help ensure his own reelection is a good description of what’s wrong with the massive Legislature.”
Ouch. (You can read the full editorial right here.)
Now I must mention I have a special place in my heart for Flynn.
Back in 2014, I wrote about how he and a fellow lawmaker from Erie (with a wonderful and appropriate name for Harrisburg), Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, held off an armed would-be mugger on the mean streets of the Capital City because Flynn himself was armed.
And the main reason for my special feelings for Flynn is what he said afterwards while explaining that he drew and fired and his assailant fired and shots were going everywhere and, even though they stood just a few feet apart, no one was hit.
Ready? He said, “I was like Yosemite Sam from Looney Tunes.”
He might not make the best pitch for reelection in front of an editorial board. But any Harrisburg lawmaker who publicly likens himself to a cartoon character gets points in my book.
Plus, both these Flynn vignettes support my overall assessment of goings on in Harrisburg and with our state lawmakers: ya just can’t make this stuff up.