Thursday, December 25, 2014

Corbett "troubled" by statements of controversial new hire

Gov. Corbett is concerned about the inflammatory social media trail left by a tea party activist recently hired by his administration.

Corbett "troubled" by statements of controversial new hire

Gov. Corbett, after signing the 2013-14 state budget Saturday in Harrisburg. The legislature failed to enact any of Corbett´s three big policy initiatives: mass transit funding, privatizing the sale of wine and hard liquor and changes to reduce the escalating cost of teachers´ and state employees´ pensions.
Gov. Corbett, after signing the 2013-14 state budget Saturday in Harrisburg. The legislature failed to enact any of Corbett's three big policy initiatives: mass transit funding, privatizing the sale of wine and hard liquor and changes to reduce the escalating cost of teachers' and state employees' pensions. AP Photo/ Dan Gleiter

Gov. Corbett is concerned about the inflammatory social media trail left by a Bucks County tea party leader recently hired by his administration.

A top Corbett aide said some statements made by activist-turned-Revenue Department employee Ana Puig are disturbing.

"Has she said some things that are troublesome and offensive to the governor? Yes," said  Corbett's communnications direcotr Lynn Lawson in an interview Friday.

In her role as legislative liaison Puig will be tasked with advancing the governor's agenda in the House and Senate - not her own, she said.

"He doesn't have to agree with her personal views, he doesn't agree with many of the things she has stated, but as an employee of the Commonwealth she needs to properly represent the views of the governor," said Lawson.

"If we find that is not the case, that's a different discussion," she said.

Our Inquirer colleague Tom Fitzgerald first reported Puig, 41, was hired to the $68,000-year-job last week. Puig founded Kitchen Table Patriots in 2009 to advocate for conservative causes - like tax reform and limited government.

In a 2009 interview with the Village Voice, Puig said President Obama was advancing his health-care plan just as Hugo Chavez had taken over Venezuela, by "infiltration of the education system, political correctness, class warfare ideology, voter fraud, brainwashing through the mainstream media."

In YouTube videos, Facebook posts and Tweets, Puig has variously compared Obama to Hitler, a Communist, a Marxist, a socialist.

House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin described a good legislative liaison is the "eyes and ears" of the governor in the legislature and someone who helps draft legislation. Among the hot button issues the Revenue Department will be involved with in the months ahead are pension reform, the state lottery contract and the transportation funding bill.

Puig may not find a warm welcome mat in some corners of the legislature - and not just in the Democratifc caucus.

Puig formerly served as state director of Freedomworks, the Washington-based conservative advocacy group founded by former U.S. House Majority leader Dick Armey. In that role Puig was a fixture in the Capitol after Corbett took office in 2011, leading the unsuccessful effort to bring school vouchers to Pennsylvania.

That battle was marked by an unusually bitter single-issue campaign by Freedomworks and its allies to force some GOP lawmakers to sign on to the voucher bill that included mounting primary challenges against incumbent lawmakers.

Among the targets was Sen. Pat Vance a Republican from Cumberland County, who called the Freedomworks tactics "bullying." Vance withstood a primary challenge in 2012 largely funded by the pro-voucher group Students First.

Senate Majority leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) said he has met Puig once or twice and found her to be "intelligent and focused on her objectives."

"She did not have a great deal of experience in state government but she seemed to be a quick study," said Pileggi. "I don’t know what the job selection process was, she certainly has the ability, but I don't see any room in that position to carry a particular ideology."



 

 

 

 

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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 and Amy Worden in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based right in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.



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