Saturday, May 30, 2015

POSTED: Friday, May 8, 2015, 8:46 AM

And the cost to taxpayers for seemingly unending investigations of Pennsylvania public officials just goes on and on.

Now comes a report from Harrisburg TV's ABC27 that more than a quarter-million dollars in tax money has been spent on legal cases involving embattled state Attorney General Kathleen Kane and disgraced former state Treasurer Rob McCord.

You can see the report here.

John Baer @ 8:46 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, May 6, 2015, 8:28 AM

You know how Republican state legislative leaders continue to argue that the costs of public pensions represent the state's biggest fiscal problem, and Democratic Gov. Wolf continues to say that's really not the case?

Well, the GOP just might get a bump for their argument with the publication Wednesday by the Harrisburg Patriot-News of a looong list of the fattest pension hauls in the state.

The list is titled "Set for Life."

John Baer @ 8:28 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 8:52 AM

Former Philly Democratic state Senator, now-Lt. Gov. Mike Stack wants you know that despite the, um, heavy duties of the LG's office he's got time to train for and finish a marathon.

His office put out a press release to that effect on Monday. Your government, as they say, hard at work for you.

The release begins by focusing on what's important: Stack.

John Baer @ 8:52 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, May 4, 2015, 8:35 AM

In a Monday column, I trash the current system of electing statewide judges on grounds that, well, it's a system akin to the state lottery and/or making a selection while under anesthesia.

You can read the column here.

That said, there IS an election May 19 in which voters in both parties get to pick three candidate to run in the fall to fill three state Supreme Court vacancies.

John Baer @ 8:35 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, May 1, 2015, 8:36 AM

As the state Legislature gets set to debate new taxes on the natural gas industry to help increase funding for public education, a new study shows a big jump in the industry's campaign donations to state politicians.

The study, by Common Cause/PA and Conservation Voters of PA, was released this week and says campaign giving in the 2013/2014 election cycle is up 47 percent over the previous cycle.

The industry gave $2.8 million this time around, bringing it total contributions since 2007 to $8.2 million, according to data compiled by the groups in a project dubbed MarcellusMoney.

John Baer @ 8:36 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 9:05 AM

For democracy to work well -- and I'm not so much saying it does as suggesting it certainly could -- voters need to know just what's what in politics.

They don't.

The latest evidence comes from a Pew Research Center survey showing a pretty profound lack of knowledge about pretty basic political stuff.

John Baer @ 9:05 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, April 27, 2015, 8:44 AM
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum fields questions from Bruce Rastetter at the Iowa Ag Summit on March 7, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event allows the invited speakers, many of whom are potential 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls, to outline their views on agricultural issue. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Ok, maybe Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania's gift to the Republican presidential nomination process, isn't getting get much attention these days even from Republicans (the latest Fox News Poll has him with 1 percent support), but he grabbed a cameo of sorts courtesy of President Obama over the weekend.

This was during the annual national embarrassment to journalism known as the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington.

On Saturday night, during the president's riff at the gala event (you can see the program and menu here), Santorum drew special mention from Obama playing to the former senator's well-known views on gays.

John Baer @ 8:44 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 23, 2015, 9:02 AM
In this April 15, 2015, photo, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., discusses their recently released tax reform plan at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. Nearly 20 Republican White House prospects will court primary voters in New Hampshire this weekend at a GOP meeting in Nashua. It’s the first gathering of its kind in New Hampshire as contenders deliver speeches, answer questions and hope to make a mark. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

Sen. Marco Rubio leads the Republican field for the 2016 presidential nomination, according to a Quinnipiac Poll released Thursday.

This must mean Republicans forgive his water bottle moment in 2013 and forget the party's own ongoing argument against putting a first-term senator in the White House.

And Rubio leads with just 15 percent which tells you that once again the GOP is widely split and maybe headed to a repeat of 2012 -- a rollercoaster ride with multiple candidates switching seats in the first car.

John Baer @ 9:02 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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