Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sparks fly in Delaware County race

Sparks fly in Delaware County race



The race to unseat longtime state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland (D., Delaware), once under the political radar, is starting to turn heads.

Marcus Hook Mayor Jay Schiliro, who is trying to unseat the Democratic veteran in next month's election, has filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission, alleging that Kirkland may have helped direct state grants to non-profits and other organizations affiliated with his family members and friends.

"It raises a lot of questions," said Schiliro in an interview earlier Tuesday, adding that he is also asking the state Attorney General's Office to review the matter. "There's something there that stinks."

Kirkland could not be reached for comment. But in today's edition of the Delaware County Times, Kirkland is quoted as saying: "I think that’s about as low as you can go because you don’t have anything to run on .... I welcome the ethics committee to do whatever they have to do.

Kirkland added: “I’ve been a legislator for 20 years. I think I know a little bit about ethics and a little bit about grants, about dispersement and about how they’re supposed to be spent.”

Schiliro held a press conference in front of Kirkland's Delaware County office on Monday, during which he outlined the result of his research of state grants, as well as Kirkland's campaign reports and financial disclosure forms.

The Republican said that $30,000 in state grant money, commonly known as WAMS, was awarded in 2008 and 2009 to Community Baptist Church. Kirkland, in his financial disclosure reports, listed the church as a source of income in those years.

Schiliro also noted $130,000 in state funding that was awarded between 2008 and 2010 to the Chester Fine Arts Center East, an organization founded by Kirkland's brother and his wife; and $85,000 in funding that was awarded in 2009 to the Across Color Cultural Festival, where Kirkland's daughter has performed as a singer.

In Tuesday's interview, Schiliro said politics had nothing to do with the timing of his press conference, landing just four weeks before the election. And he said regardless of the outcome of the Nov. 6 election, he will continue to push that the matter be appropriately investigated.

"If I am on the losing end of this stick, I’m still pushing it," the mayor said.

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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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