Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Facebook fracas: House Rep. accuses colleague of "arguing with the plants"

A spat over a Philadelphia House primary race has spilled over into social media.

Facebook fracas: House Rep. accuses colleague of "arguing with the plants"



A spat stemming from a Philadelphia House primary race has spilled over into social media.

Rep. Brian Sims took to Facebook today to accuse fellow Democrat Mark Cohen of being mentally unfit for his job.

In a post on his personal page, Sims alleges Cohen failed to show up for state government committee meetings and questioned Cohen's faculties.

"Virtually every single person in the Capital has a story about Mark being lost in a bathroom or arguing with the plants or with the pictures on the wall," said Sims.

Sims has endorsed Democrat Jared Solomon in the May primary race against Cohen, who has faced only one other challenger since taking office in 1974.

That Sims is backing the challenger for the 202nd district seat, may not endear him to his legislative colleagues. In the Capitol decorum traditionally dictates that sitting lawmakers support incumbents. Sims' Facebook criticism - leveled against a member of a same party - is all but unheard of in Harrisburg.

House Democratic spokesman Bill Patton said leadership had no comment about the Sims-Cohen matter at this time.

 Cohen, who could not be reached for comment late today, told Philadelphia magazine that he has a nearly 100 percent attendance rate for House voting sessions and committee meetings.

"One of the things I have come to accept is that people (with minor limitations) have basically a constitutional right to lie about elected officials," he wrote.

But Sims, in an interview late Tuesday, said he and other freshmen Democrats have been asked to chair the state government committee in Cohen's absence last year

"They are critically important meetings, once is too many times to miss," said Sims. 

Of his comments he said, "I didn't say anything I didn't believe honestly."

Sims said he has a lot of respect for Cohen and shares most of his opinions on issues, but that Cohen's behavior is "problematic."

"Politics can't be about sentiment, it has to be about substance," Sims said.

Now Sims, it appears, may have a challenger for his seat too.

Rep. Babette Josephs, the veteran House member upset by Sims in 2012, has said she wants her old seat back and will wage a comeback race this May.

Cohen ended his statement to Philadelphia magazine on a hopeful note, saying if Sims wins another term, "I would hope that we can work together more constructively than in this session."





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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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