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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: April, 2012

POSTED: Monday, April 30, 2012, 10:18 AM

Last week's Democratic primary winner for state attorney general, Kathleen Kane, already is taking fire from a national Republican group claiming she is "wrong for Pennslvania."

The group is the Virginia-based Republican State Leadership Committee, of which the Republican Attorneys General Association is a part.

It says it's the largest caucus of GOP state leaders in the nation, claims 100,000 donors and says it raised $30 million in the last election cycle to help elect Republican row-office candidates and state lawmakers.

POSTED: Friday, April 27, 2012, 11:15 AM

The Harrisburg Patriot-News reports Friday that a new effort is underway to sell off the State Store system, this time with more licenses for sale and more freedom for beer distributors.

Specifics include expanding the original plan to sell 1,250 retail licenses and offer instead 1,600.

Also, beer distributors would be able to sell six packs instead of just cases and be able to buy retail licenses to sell liquor and wine.

POSTED: Thursday, April 26, 2012, 10:48 AM

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Yo, boss, see fur's already flyin' in the Pennsylvania Senate race?

BE: Race? You mean crawl, don't you? Isn't there someone named Casey running with the most recognizable name in state political history?

POSTED: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 10:29 AM

Former Democratic House Speaker Bill DeWeese, even as he was being sentenced to prison in Dauphin County on Election Day, rang up more votes for reelection in his home Greene County than did the two Republican candidates vying for his legislative seat.

DeWeese, running unopposed in the Democratic primary for the 50th District, got 1,878 votes. The two Republican candidates got a combined total of 1,821.

DeWeese has maintained that had he been tried in Greene County, he would have been acquitted. The Election Day numbers suggest he might be right.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 10:11 AM

You know how some things that tax dollars pay for never seem to get better or cost less?

Well, the state's massive prison system (16,000 employees; 51,000 inmates), the third most expensive budget item in Pennsylvania, is trying to both get better AND cost less.

Corrections Secretary John Wetzel calls the current system "inefficient" and says we don't need to spend $2 billion a year to run it.

POSTED: Monday, April 23, 2012, 1:52 PM

Just in time for Tuesday's Primary Election, Harrisburg is making sure the political process is less transparent than it ought to be.

As voters -- at least those interested enough to care about who drives policies that impact lives across the state -- decide on candidates for fall elections, state officials have blown the chance to help provide key information on campaign funding.

The public advocacy group Common Cause points to what it calls "a gaping lack of PA campaign finance disclosure" for candidates running for office.

POSTED: Thursday, April 19, 2012, 10:46 AM

Pennsylvania Republicans in the U.S. Senate primary are doing what national Republicans did in the presidential race: they're eating each other alive.

The five-way race for the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Bob Casey in November has effectively become a three-way race among rich young Chester County biz guy Steve Welch, rich older Armstrong County coal guy Tom Smith and former Berks County state legislator Sam Rohrer.

(David Christian of Bucks County and Marc Scaringi of Cumberland County also are on the ballot.)

POSTED: Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 10:17 AM

Among the many things wrong with Pennsylvania's campaign finance laws -- most notably that there is no limit on the amount an individual, party or PAC can give a candidate -- is allowing pols charged with crimes to use money raised for elections to pay for legal defense.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday reports, for example, that convicted state Sen. Jane Orie, R-Pittsburgh, spent more than $100,000 in campaign contributions to pay her lawyer, William Costopoulos.

Orie is scheduled to be sentenced May 21 on 14 criminal counts related to using her office and taxpayer resources for political campaign purposes for herself and her sister, state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.

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 baerj@phillynews.com.

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 baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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