Saturday, February 13, 2016

POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 12:19 PM
Kathleen Kane, the state’s embattled attorney general. (ED HILLE/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Good government activist Gene Stilp filed an ethics complaint Tuesday against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, contending she has used state resources to aid her private defense against criminal charges.

In his complaint, Stilp, of Harrisburg, is asking the State Ethics Commission to investigate whether Kane has used state "personnel, property and services for personal benefit."

Among other examples, Stilp cites Kane's use last week of the Media Center in the state Capitol - a popular space for elected officials to hold press conferences - to deliver a statement about the criminal case against her. Kane was charged by Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman earlier this month for allegedly leaking secret information to embarrass a political foe - and then lying about it when questioned under oath. Ferman's office also contends Kane deployed aides to spy on the investigation into the leak.

Angela Couloumbis @ 12:19 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 5:53 PM

Why let the job get in the way of a round of golf - especially one that raises money for your political party.

House Republicans aren't, at least not next week.

The GOP-controlled House of Representatives is scheduled to return to the Capitol Tuesday and Wednesday to vote on bills (though no one is quite sure yet which ones) and hopefully come closer to breaking the impasse with Gov. Wolf over a new state budget.

Angela Couloumbis @ 5:53 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 3:46 PM

Many current Pennsylvania lawmakers were not in office in July 2005, but that's not stopping one good government activist from calling for a "political enema" for a decision made a decade ago today.

Tuesday marked the 10th anniversary of the Capitol's infamous payraise, when lawmakers voted in the middle of the night to boost their own salaries. It was a galvanizing moment for elected officials - some would say for Pennsylvania politics - as public support for the legislature plummeted and voters subsequently took their anger to the polls to kick many legislators out of office. 

Eric Epstein, co-founder of the reform group Rock the Capitol, was one of the key organizers of the public campaign that eventually led the legislature to rescind the raise. He has compiled an annual report on the payraise's effect every year since then, and on Tuesday noted that many of the payraise's recipients remain in office.

Sam Janesch @ 3:46 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, June 22, 2015, 5:33 PM

The Republican senator who once threatened to use a baseball bat on his colleagues and compared union leaders to Hitler didn’t hold back Monday from slamming Gov. Wolf’s budget agenda.

“I know that I, as well as the rest of my colleagues, really want to give Gov. Wolf the benefit of the doubt. But I can tell you so far it’s not looking good,” Sen. Scott Wagner (R., York) said during a speech at the monthly press club luncheon in Harrisburg.

Although he called Gov. Wolf a “nice guy,” Wagner said the governor is just pushing the “tired” democratic agenda of “higher taxes, higher spending, and bigger government.”       

Madison Russ @ 5:33 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 4:54 PM

In politics, they say, perception is everything.

That adage may have momentarily been lost on Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai when he held a press conference last week to highlight how much money Pennsylvania has raised in the last year through its impact fee on natural gas drillers.

Angela Couloumbis @ 4:54 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 5:40 PM

It could have been a feel-good moment for Gov. Wolf's embattled nominee to head the Pennsylvania State Police - and at a time when he could really use one.

Acting State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown is facing a confirmation vote by a Senate committee tomorrow, and whether its members give him the green light or not is a toss-up. A good chunk of the controversy surrounding Brown has been generated by his decision to wear the State Police uniform, despite the fact that he didn't go through the agency's academy training.

Angela Couloumbis @ 5:40 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 6:15 PM

Gov. Wolf has appointed a top aide's former law partner to an influential position on the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge commission.

Wadud Ahmad, a partner in the Philadelphia-based law firm of Ahmad Zaffarese, was tapped last week by Wolf to sit on the commission, which has since made him its vice-chair. The commission oversees 20 bridges over the Delaware River linking Pennsylvania and New Jersey (7 toll bridges and 13 toll-supported bridges), a $54 million operating budget, as well as millions of dollars in construction, architectural, legal and bond work, among other contracts.

Angela Couloumbis @ 6:15 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, May 18, 2015, 9:32 PM

Gov. Wolf's chief of staff thinks legislators are trying to a pull a fast one by limiting pension benefits for everyone but themselves.

Katie McGinty was not shy about making that point when she spoke at the monthly press club luncheon in Harrisburg Monday.

Angela Couloumbis @ 9:32 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog

Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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