We just made history in Washington D.C.
I am so unbelievably proud of my friend and fellow warrior. Today was a glorious day for freedom.
And this is just the beginning.
Big announcement next week.
October 19, 2018
Candace Owens’ rapid rise defending two of America’s most complicated men: Trump and Kanye
It’s a Wednesday morning at Liberty University and the basketball arena is packed with nearly 10,000 people. Students reach their arms skyward, eyes closed, entranced in deafening Christian rock music.
Backstage, administrators and students dote on Candace Owens, that day’s convocation speaker, who has quickly built a career trashing liberal politics with a millennial fierceness. She hasn’t rehearsed. It protects her authenticity. But she knows her beats.
Onstage, she speaks for about 24 minutes, calmly gliding back and forth across the stage in heels, attacking some of her usual targets: Planned Parenthood, feminism, the welfare system.
She builds to the moment. Then, she goes for it.
“Kanye West. Man, he’s a wonderful man,” she says to applause and cheering — breaking the quiet of what had become a calm, attentive audience.
“What is it that President Donald Trump, Kanye West and Candace Owens have in common?” she asks rhetorically. “Kanye West describes it as ‘dragon energy’ and to me I think it’s individualism. It’s believing in yourself. It’s standing up in the face of everybody telling you you can’t.”
Owens embraces her role as the young black woman defending conservatism, attacking liberals and praising two of America’s more complicated men.
Since April when West tweeted, “I love the way Candace Owens thinks,” she has never been far behind the star, playing his chief defender as he lurched from one controversial headline to the next. She accompanied West to TMZ when he said slavery “sounds like a choice” and posted a photo of herself with West after his headline-making White House visit last week. People ask her to autograph West’s CDs.
Owens, 29, regularly appears on Fox News and travels six days a week to speak at college campuses. It’s made her friendly with Trump and the first family, some of whom she’s met for dinner.
But barely more than a year ago she was an unknown YouTuber.
What changed her life was a video about the Charlottesville rally, wherein she blames the media for creating racial hysteria. That video prompted Fox News host Jesse Watters to invite her on the network for the first time late last year.
Fox News amplified Owens, who was then hired by Turning Point USA, an organization aimed at bringing conservative ideas to college campuses. Her Twitter following quickly grew to 108,000. West’s tweet brought hundreds of thousands more, ballooning her audience to 850,000 today.
The president also took notice. Trump said Owens “represents an ever expanding group of very smart ‘thinkers.’”
Her rapid rise gives her a massive political voice for someone with such a brief career – or even interest – in politics. Owens says she has never voted. Not for Trump, or any other candidate, and only recently registered as a Republican, but previously identified as liberal.
“I had no interest in politics whatsoever prior to 2015,” she said.
Owens illustrates a political fact stamped and sealed by Trump: that strong voices can break through regardless of prior experience.
Owens defends Trump’s comments after Charlottesville: “I still agree with him. There are morons on both sides.” She doesn’t believe in white privilege and often criticizes Black Lives Matter. Feminism, she claims, has become radicalized. Planned Parenthood is “murdering” people using abortion, which has slowed black population growth. The media causes dissent. And lately, amid Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court: “I’m really passionate about defending men.”
She’s now preached politics to hundreds of thousands of students, said Turning Point founder Charlie Kirk. Her reach isn’t contained to conservative havens like Liberty, where its president Jerry Falwell Jr. is an outspoken Trump supporter. Most recently Owens and Kirk spoke at the University of Colorado-Boulder, the University of Washington and the University of Georgia.
After the speech at Liberty, Owens jumped off stage and was hounded by a group of students, black and white, seeking selfies. Security had to step in to control the crowd. On Twitter, the speech was mostly praised.
But outside the arena at a small protest, Liberty senior Abigail Ferris held up a pro-#MeToo sign. It’s the day before Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, testified before a Senate committee. Owens often dismisses the #MeToo movement as a Democratic political ploy and called Ford a liar who should serve time in prison.
“We’re not directly protesting her,” Ferris said. “But we are showing while she has made some disparaging remarks to the movement, that there are students on campus who respectfully disagree with her.”
More than anything, Owens preaches against victimhood, particularly among African Americans, a pull-yourself-up-by-your bootstraps mindset.
“I consider myself insanely privileged to be in this country,” she said. “I try to tell people how much value there is in seeing yourself as privileged … because if you see yourself as a victim, you’ll have that shade over your eyes in life and you’re not going to accomplish much.”
She bolsters her message with an intriguing personal story, one that starts in poverty, involves a traumatic episode of racism and an I’ve-seen-the-dark-side political awakening. She sees it as the perfect antidote to liberal attacks on Republicans over race.
Owens grew up in Stamford, Connecticut, the middle child of three girls. Her father was a property manager and her mother an executive assistant. Even as a toddler, Owens didn’t back down in a debate, her dad Robert Owens Jr., said.
The family grew up in poverty, she claims, living in a small apartment before moving into the home of her grandfather, who laid tobacco out to dry on a sharecropping farm at age 5 and faced the Ku Klux Klan.
“He is a man’s man,” Owens said. “That masculinity is now being taught as toxic, when in reality it’s the one thing that grounded me as a child.”
In 2007, Owens’ senior year at Stamford High School, came an experience that shaped her personally – and eventually politically.
Four boys called her from a blocked number and left voicemails with racial epithets and threats of violence.
“They were calling me the N-word, they were saying they were going to put a bullet into the back of my head as they had done to Martin Luther King. They were calling me Rosa Parks. They were telling me that they were going to tar and feather my family,” she told the Liberty crowd.
The episode became enflamed because one of the boys was the son of then-Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, the current Democratic governor of Connecticut. Owens, then 17, faced threats and harassment in school for weeks afterward, according to a lawsuit her father filed against the Stamford Board of Education. Robert Owens, in his filing, said the school district failed to protect his daughter from the harassment. The school board later settled with the family for $37,500, according to a settlement agreement provided by the board.
The Stamford Police Department said documents related to the case were sealed because those involved were minors and a spokesman would not confirm the outcome. But the Danbury News Times reported police arrested at least one student.
Owens was out of school for weeks because of the incident, which drew the attention of the NAACP, which defended her in the media. But Owens felt like a public relations pawn.
“I would come out of school and they would be outside with cameras and speaking, and I would stand there,” she said. “It was really awful because then it sort of gave people that fire of like, ‘she’s doing this for attention.’”
The incident, Owens said, set in motion years of anorexia, which lasted through college and into her working years.
“It was really just a manifestation of trying to control something in your life,” she said.
Today, she complains about the media framing her as the victim.
“What it taught me was how little value there was in victimhood,” she said. “Now, according to the left, that should have been the best moment of my life.”
In 2016, she wrote an op-ed in the Stamford Advocate defending the boys, which hints at what has become her candid speaking style.
“I’ll be the first to say I am sorry,” she wrote, “To all of them, having to endure that experience; a group of children dissected and labeled.”
Years later, Owens chalks up the voicemails to poor decision-making, not racism.
“They were labeled these racists, and I never felt that they were racists,” she said. “I felt that they were people who did something that was really stupid.”
She said some of the boys have since thanked her.
“People should be allowed to evolve,” she said.
After high school, Owens enrolled at the University of Rhode Island to study journalism, but dropped out in 2010 because she said her loan was declined. She then moved to New York City, and found steady work at a private equity firm, where she worked for four and a half years, starting off as an assistant and working her way up to the vice president of administration.
In 2014, she started the website Degree 180, a now-defunct lifestyle blog.
“I wanted to find my voice,” she said.
The website sometimes touched on politics – one contributor wrote the idea of a Trump presidency “makes my skin crawl.” But Owens, listed as the founder and CEO, wrote mostly about relationships and sometimes sex. She did say in October 2015 that she welcomed the end of the Republican tea party movement and their “crazy antics.”
In April 2016 Owens started fundraising for another venture, an anti-cyberbullying website named Social Autopsy – the rapid downfall of which would embolden her political views and distrust of the media.
Social Autopsy aimed to connect people’s social media comments to their places of employment as a way to hold people accountable. But to targets of GamerGate, an online harassment campaign led by video gamers, it sounded like “doxxing,” the term for exposing someone’s personal information online. Owens denies this was the intent.
When Social Autopsy launched a $75,000 Kickstarter campaign, it drew criticism in blogs and a lengthy piece in New York Magazine. Kickstarter suspended the project after two days, arguing the “project’s plan to ‘dox’ people were in violation of our rules.”
Social Autopsy’s coverage in the media made Owens a conservative overnight, she told Dave Rubin on his YouTube show “The Rubin Report” last year. To USA TODAY, she describes her political switch as the result of a perfect storm driven by an intense distaste for the media and Trump’s rise.
“There’s this guy who I used to watch on reality TV who’s running for president of the United States and he says they’re fake news,” she said. “It was happening to me at the same time.”
The incident drew her to conservative outlets she’d formerly cast off as fringe, like Breitbart.com.
She also started exploring the writings of black conservatives, such as Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at Stanford University’sHoover Institution. Like Owens, Sowell has alleged liberal attempts to stifle free speech on college campuses. He slammed the “liberal media” in a column for the conservative National Review in late 2016 regarding Trump’s picks for top White House positions.
“They would be worried about anyone who has not been brainwashed in the political correctness that reigns among the intelligentsia,” he wrote.
Out of her self-immersion in conservative media and black conservatism came a new outlook, which Owens describes like a calling.
“I want to make a difference,” she said. “I want people t know my story so that they know that it can be their story, that they’re in control of their own destiny.”
To do that, she’d use a 21st Century technique to push the ideas of Sowell and others to a social media crowd.
“I said, ‘How can I bring that message that they’re saying so brilliantly to a wider audience?” she said. “‘Oh, I’m like a millennial. I can do a YouTube channel. I’m hilarious.’”
Owens began making a series of YouTube videos in July 2017. Her first post features her “coming out” as a conservative to her parents, who are aghast at the news. All characters are played by Owens. In her most watched video, with 1.6 million views, she mocks a list of demands Black Lives Matter made of white people.
The videos kickstarted a new career as a conservative commentator, earning her airtime on Fox and, eventually, West’s attention. When he tweeted about her in April, she reacted like a fan, not the collaborator she is now.
“Please take a meeting with me,” she tweeted to West just minutes later. “I tell every single person that everything that I have been inspired to do, was written in your music.”
Days later she appeared with West on TMZ, when he made his remarks about slavery. West drew widespread condemnation for his comments – including from other celebrities, like Stevie Wonder and Kobe Bryant – and later apologized.
But former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, another black Republican, defended him.
“People ought to be able to express their views,” she said. “Not all of us have to think politically the same way. I’ve said to people sometimes, ‘You know, I’ve been black all my life. You don’t have to tell me how to be black.’”
Not long after TMZ, Owens visited Trump at the White House.
Owens doesn’t think she’s treated differently in conservative media because of her race, but does suggest there is a “sense of relief” with her in the fold.
“I think there’s a draw. I think there’s a validation,” Owens said. “Imagine being a Republican and for years and years you try to say something and you get called a racist.”
But Tasha Philpot, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin, said Owens and West draw more attention because they’re unique.
“They’re novel and so they can get media attention and coverage in ways that black Democrats can’t,” Philpot said. “The idea that there is this special person, this aberration, exception to the rule, does certainly get you a platform that you wouldn’t have otherwise.”
An exception because Trump’s approval rating among African Americans lags at 10 percent, according to a most-recent Gallup poll. Just 8 percent of African Americans voted for Trump in 2016, which is slightly higher than Republican presidential contenders John McCain and Mitt Romney when they took on former President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012; but slightly lower than former Republican President George W. Bush’s outcomes with African Americans in 2000 and 2004, according to Cornell University’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.
“There’s nothing particularly appealing, especially in this highly racialized political environment that would draw blacks over to the Republican Party,” Philpot said.
Trump often touts black unemployment, which has reached lows. Although, as The Associated Press has reported, economists have argued the success is not Trump’s doing but the result of years of economic recovery started years ago. The White House also distributed false statistics saying Trump has created more jobs for African Americans than Obama, something for which the White House later apologized.
“At this point, wearing a MAGA hat is a proxy for not being authentically black,” Philpot said.
Pa. GOP chair accused me of ‘indoctrinating’ my students. Here’s why he’s wrong | Opinion
October 3, 2018
Pa. GOP chair blasts Central HS teacher for ‘liberal indoctrination’
Oct 12, 2018
Fox News host Jeanine Pirro has become a frequent fundraiser for Pennsylvania Republicans
Fox News host Jeanine Pirro was in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, but she wasn’t in Erie to cover President Trump’s latest rally — she was headlining a fundraiser in York for Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner.
Pirro, who has hosted Justice with Judge Jeanine on Fox News since January 2011, was the featured guest speaker for the “special campaign event” paid for by Wagner’s gubernatorial campaign, which took place at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in York. According to an invitation, individual tickets to the event cost $130, while VIP seats went for $2,500 a ticket (and included a signed copy of her latest book, Liars, Leakers and Liberals).
Pirro has been paid a total of $24,500 by Wagner’s gubernatorial campaign as a “fundraising event speaker” since Aug. 14, according to campaign finance reports. The payments came before Wagner claimed in a recent fundraising email that his campaign was “tapped out”after spending more than $10 million of his own money to unseat Democratic incumbent Gov. Wolf.
Wagner’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Regardless of the opinions they espouse on their shows, Fox News hosts (like most media personalities) are not typically allowed to campaign for political candidates. But Pirro, whose weekly Saturday night show has grown in stature since Trump was elected president, appears to have quietly become a frequent speaker at fundraisers for Republican candidates.
According to a report by the progressive media watchdog Media Matters, Pirro appeared at at least 10 fundraisers last year for organizations working to get GOP candidates elected. Those groups frequently used her affiliation with Fox News as a selling point for tickets that sold for hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of dollars.
Pirro has made several paid appearances at Republican Party fundraisers in Pennsylvania over the past two years. In March 2017, Pirro was the “special guest” for a leadership reception hosted by the Erie County Republican Committee. She was also the headliner for the Republican Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth’s Lincoln Day Dinner in March 2017 in Philadelphia.
Pirro also appeared alongside Wagner at a Republican Committee of Allegheny County fundraiser at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh in Sept. 2017, and headlined an Oct. 2016 fundraiser for Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania in King of Prussia.
It’s unclear what position Fox News has on Pirro’s fundraising for Republican Party groups. Neither Fox News nor Pirro responded to a request for comment.
The network allowed host Laura Ingraham to headline a campaign fundraiser for Republican senate candidate Kelli Ward in Arizona in 2017 because her show had not yet begun. And Sean Hannity was banned from promoting Republican candidates after he participated in a campaign video for Trump less than two months before the 2016 election.
“We were not aware of Sean Hannity participating in a promotional video, and he will not be doing anything along these lines for the remainder of the election season,” a Fox News spokesperson told the Daily Beast at the time.
Oct 11, 2018
Scott Wagner paid $24,500 for Judge Jeanine Pirro to speak at a campaign fundraiser
During his speech in Erie on Wednesday night, President Donald Trump riled up the crowd by asserting that Judge Jeanine Pirro — a Fox News host and larger-than-life personality in conservative circles — supports Scott Wagner for Pennsylvania governor.
“Maybe the best thing I can say about Scott Wagner is that Judge Jeanine thinks he’s fantastic, OK?” Mr. Trump said. “That might be the greatest endorsement.”
But how much does Judge Jeanine’s support cost?
According to the Wagner campaign’s most recent campaign finance report, the campaign paid a grand total of $24,500 to Judge Jeanine Pirro Inc. over two installments in August and September, labeled as “Fundraising Event Speaker” expenditures.
Ms. Pirro, an ardent defender of the president, spoke at a fundraiser for Mr. Wagner Wednesday evening in York County. She was advertised as a “special guest speaker” on the campaign’s invitation, which touted ticket offers from $130 for general admission to $50,000 — which would have gotten you 20 tickets to a VIP reception, a photo opportunity and 20 signed copies of Ms. Pirro’s latest book.
Christopher Borick, political science professor at Muhlenberg College and director of its Institute of Public Opinion, said it’s “very odd” for a candidate to pay so much money to bring a partisan figure in for a campaign event.
“It doesn’t happen,” Mr. Borick said. “You write big checks for consulting. You write big checks for folks who are going to give you strategy.”
It’s normal for campaigns to bring in speakers or political figures and pay for hotel and airfare and sometimes a modest honorarium, Mr. Borick said, but nothing of this nature.
When asked about the payments and fundraiser, Wagner spokesman Andrew Romeo responded, “Any outstanding information related to our finances will be disclosed on our next report.”
Ms. Pirro and Fox News could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Wagner, a Republican, is running for governor against incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf. Though he’s self-financed much of his campaign, Mr. Wagner said in a fundraising email this past weekend that he’s “tapped out” in spending his own money on the race.
The financial calculus for Ms. Pirro’s appearance at the fundraiser could have been favorable, though, Mr. Borick said, in that such a high-profile appearance could generate a lot of interest among donors.
“[The campaign] could figure that if she was the draw, they could really clean up with more people coming and maybe get some net,” Mr. Borick said. “But boy, it better be a pretty good night if you have to subtract her fee. Those better be some high-end folks.”
Mr. Borick added, “The person is usually showing up to help you raise the money and not showing up to cost you money.” Source
Sept 22, 2018
Donald Trump Jr. stumps for GOP in Hershey: ‘Trump is on the ticket’
Donald Trump Jr. had one emphatic message for Pennsylvania Republicans on Friday: “Donald Trump is on the ticket in November.”
The president’s eldest son’s brief remarks before GOP officials at the Hershey Lodge is part of a larger nationwide speaking tour for the 40-year-old real estate scion. Trump Jr. has criss-crossed the country this year attending fundraising and party events as the GOP gears up for a difficult mid-term fight.
Poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight currently gives Democrats a four-in-five chance of winning control of the U.S. House and a one-in-three chance of taking the Senate.
State polls, meanwhile, have shown Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Sen. Bob Casey with double-digit leads against their respective challenges, state Sen. Scott Wagner and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta. Trump carried Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes, or less than 1 percentage points, in 2016.
“You have to realize: it can go away tomorrow,” Trump Jr. said. “That is the other side’s plan. That is their motivation.”
He said the tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks that benefitted those in attendance — Trump Jr. did not mention tariffs or the possiblity of a trade war with China in his remarks — would be reversed if Democrats retook Congress.
But Barletta, Wagner and the slate of congressional candidates would serve as partners to help shepherd Trump’s policy goals, Trump Jr. said.
“They’re going to govern with my father, like my father, for all of you.”
Some of the biggest laugh lines of the night came as a result of Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, former Fox News TV host Kimberly Guilfoyle, who joked about her extracurricular activities, “playing doctor” with Trump Jr.
After Guilfoyle introduced her boyfriend, Trump Jr. quipped, “I was up late last night — not because of Kimberly. Get your minds out of the gutter.”
On Friday, former President Barack Obama was also in Pennsylvania: campaigning for the state’s Democrats in Philadelphia.
State GOP Chair Val DiGiorgio said that didn’t intimidate him. He claimed Friday’s event broke fundraising and attendance records for the party, although it occupied one of Hershey Lodge’s smaller ballrooms.
“Pennsylvania will continue to be Trump country,” DiGiorgio said.
August 23, 2018
Donald Trump Jr to Speak at PA GOP Fall Dinner
Dinner with Donald Jr.
Today, the Pennsylvania GOP sent out a press release promoting its upcoming Fall Dinner on September 21 in Hershey, PA, which will include guest speaker Donald Trump Jr.
“We are honored to have Donald Trump Jr. as our guest speaker!” the press release states.
“Donald Trump Jr. is a great advocate for a Republican-led agenda that has given Americans lower taxes, a booming economy, and historically low unemployment,” PAGOP Communications Director Jason Gottesman added. “We are excited to have him speak at our dinner and energize those in attendance.”
The general reception, VIP reception, and chances for photos begin at 6 PM. The dinner will start at 7 PM.
General admission per person is $150, while it’s $400 per person for a VIP ticket.
To be a “Gold Sponsor” for a table of 10 VIP reception and dinner tickets costs $10,000. A “Silver Sponsor” table that includes 4 VIP reception tickets and 6 general reception tickets costs $5,000. A “Bronze Sponsor” table that includes 4 VIP reception and dinner tickets costs $2,500.
Those interested can RSVP here.
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party did not immediately respond for comment on this event.
June 16, 2018
Chester County Democrats, Republicans elect leaders
West Chester >> Members of Chester County’s two major political parties chose the candidates who will lead them into the upcoming midterm elections, choices that come as the gap between the majority and minority parties continues to close.
Members of the Chester County Democratic Committee elected a slate of candidates led by retired DuPont chemist Dick Bingham to succeed outgoing Chairman Brian McGinnis.
Bingham and his three running mates for the executive committee topped a slate of candidates led by the party’s vice chairwoman Lani Frank at the committee’s reorganization convention held at Stetson Middle School in Westtown.
Chester County Republicans returned Chairman Val DiGiorgio to the leadership position he has held since 2011. DiGiorgio, an attorney in private practice with the Malvern firm of Stradley Ronon who lives in West Whiteland, also serves as chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Committee.
DiGiorgio ran unopposed at the party’s reorganization event, held at Fugett Middle School in East Goshen.
Bingham, an East Marlborough resident who has led a regional group of Democrats in the Kennett Square area, laid out his vision for the party in his nominating speech. “Our goal is to help every one of our 228 precincts become a voter turnout powerhouse,” he said in a press release. “Electing Democrats in Chester County will be the norm, never again the exception.”
The party is coming off one of its most historically successful campaign seasons, as it elected four women to county Row Offices — a sweep — in 2017. In the 2016 presidential election, the county chose Democrat Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump by more than 25,000 votes, even as Trump was on his way to winning the state and the overall election.
Overall, the GOP’s traditional edge in party registration in the county has continued to drop since the beginning of the 21st century. In May 2017, the GOP had 151,653 registered voters and the Democrats 132,831. According to the Pennsylvania State Department, as of June 11 there were 151,121 Republicans registered in the county, compared with 135,974 Democrats, closing the gap to 15,147 voters and showing a pick up of 3,143 new voters versus the GOP’s loss of 500 voters.
Even though Trump is not on the ballot for November, Bingham said he anticipates that many of the elections or state and national office that county voters will be asked to decide may revolve around his presidency.
“He certainly is a very polarizing figure,” he said. “I think his presence will bring a lot of voters to our side.
The local Democrats are promoting a full slate of candidates for the two state Senate and nine state House of Representatives seats up for election, as well as a well-funded and motivated candidate for the newly reformed 6th Congressional District, Chrissy Houlahan of Easttown, a district that covers the entire county, plus areas of lower Berks County. Incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Senator Bob Casey are also seeking re-election.
The others elected as part of Bingham’s slate include Marsha Peltz of Malvern for vice chairwoman; Nick Allen of West Chester for secretary; and MaryAnn Piccioni of Tredyffrin for treasurer.
“I am proud to hand over my gavel to Dick,” said outgoing McGinnis, who had supported Bingham over Frank for the seat. Bingham said he expected that Frank, a longtime campaign organizer and party activist, would continue to work for the party.
“Lani and I have always worked well together,” he said. “Obviously we both wanted to win, ad worked hard to get there. But I hope Lani will continue to work with us.”
On the GOP side, in addition to returning DiGiorgio to his seat the committee members in attendance elected Steve Sansone as executive vice chairman, Barb Proto as vice chairwoman, curt Norcini as treasurer, Joe Toner as financial secretary, Robin Marcello as secretary, and Kate Collins as assistant secretary.
In his speech to the gathered committee, DiGiorgio said the committee would “work diligently to return our house delegation to Harrisburg. Our representatives have held the line against the governor’s repeated tax increase attempts. Reps. Warren Kampf (of Tredyffrin) and Becky Corbin (of East Brandywine) have been leaders in the House, and I am eager for them to be joined by our esteemed youth movement of candidates such as Rep. Eric Roe, Amber Little-Turner in the 74th and Nick Deminski in the 156th.”
“As I have often said, when this party is united, we cannot be defeated,” DiGiorgio was quoted as telling the committee.
The committee members also heard from Greg McCauley, candidate for the 6th Congressional District, who was nominated in May after incumbent U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello of West Goshen announced he would not seek re-election. McCauley, of Kennett, spoke on the need to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington, D.C., and how his experience as a tax attorney has prepared him to address issues such as the national debt and student loan funding, according to the release. Source
April 27, 2018
PA GOP chair blasts report on turmoil at state committee
In a sharply worded letter sent to members of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, PA GOP Chairman Val DiGiorgio pushed back against what he called “nonsense and fake news in (a) misguided article” published in a recent City & State PA special report on finance and staffing woes inside the state committee.
In a series of numbered “talking points,” DiGiorgio took exception to numerous findings in the article, including the PA GOP’s current financial status and its condition when he took office. DiGiorgio asserts that the committee’s forthcoming campaign finance report “will show that we are on a much better financial footing than the article characterizes,” and that he took over an operation that had “less money in the bank than was needed for one month of operating expenses, no staff and $160,000 in debt.”
DiGiorgio stressed in the letter that the dramatic reduction in staffing was a “conscious decision to operate with leaner staff and to put money directly into campaigns,” noting that PA GOP funnelled roughly $350,000 into get-out-the-vote efforts for judicial candidates. He added that the committee has “a large staff in the field doing the work of volunteer recruitment” and that he expects rising numbers of volunteers throughout the election cycle.
However, DiGiorgio did not provide exact details on the party’s current or projected finances, or the number of employees or volunteers currently on staff.
Both DiGiorgio and a spokesman for the state committee declined to provide similar details or on record comments prior to the publication of the article in question.
The recent letter also obliquely references DiGiorgio’s disappointment over “the extent to which Republicans continue to fight one another – on social media, at events and in the media.” This appears to be a thinly veiled reference to the continuing battle for the Republican gubernatorial nomination between state Sen. Scott Wagner and rival Paul Mango, which has spilled across commercials, public forums and a litany of press coverage. A recent PoliticsPA article featured a letter from six state party members contesting DiGiorgio’s claim that committee members were aware of claims made by Mango about his opponant.
In that letter, the committee members “respectfully contest this statement that (DiGiorgio) made on behalf of the entire Republican Party of Pennsylvania” dismissing Mango’s claims about Wagner’s past issues “because we had no idea that State Senator Scott Wagner was involved in these disputes.”
“(DiGiorgio) may have known about the issues Mr. Mango highlights in his advertisement, but none of these issues were ever disseminated to the State Committee,” reads the letter
The PA GOP did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. Source
April 25, 2018
PA GOP Short Staffed & Under Funded: Report
Heading into the 2018 midterm elections the Republican Party of Pennsylvania is facing fundraising and staffing issues, combined with a contentious Gubernatorial primary that is dividing some members of the Party.
According to City & State the PA GOP finished 2017 with just $15,000 in their accounts, barely enough to keep the lights on at headquarters.
During the 2017 judicial elections the party had about 15 employees, which according some was a sign of under staffing issues that have continued into this year. A spokesman confirmed to City & State the identity of four permanent staffers, all recent hires. In the past six months, five senior level staffers either left, or gave their notice.
“I think we usually had about 20 people; in presidential years, we probably had over 200, including field staff. One of the most effective things I was able to do was hire good staff. But you need a lot of money to do that,” former PA GOP Chairman Rob Gleason told City & State.
GOP operatives, speaking anonymously to City & State, agreed that the staff levels at state party are lower and put the blame on either financial strains of not having enough money in the bank or “some unspoken misconduct.”
The issues at the state party lead to some grumblings about the leadership of current Chairman Val DiGiorgio. DiGiorgio took over as Chairman in a hotly contested race at the start of 2017.
In a letter to state party leadership following the City & State article, DiGiorgio took issue with the report’s accuracy.
“In the article it talks about how we were left in good financial footing at the start of our administration. This is not true. When we started we had less money in the bank then was needed for one month of operating expenses, no staff and $160,000 in debt, at which we have chipped away,” DiGiorgio wrote of one point of contention.
DiGiorgio also took issue with the idea that the lower number of staffers is truly an issue for the party, saying he “made the conscious decision to operate with leaner staff and to put money directly into campaigns. As a result, we put about $350,000 directly into the GOTV effort for the judicial candidates, a type of investment the party had not previously made in statewide campaigns.”
DiGiorgio has recently entered into the feuding between Gubernatorial candidates Paul Mango and Scott Wagner, making several statements in support of Wagner. The state party voted to endorse Wagner in the GOP’s primary.
In a letter obtained by PoliticsPA, six state party members wrote a letter to DiGiorgio asking him to “rescind your claim” that state committee members knew about the issues Mango’s campaign brought up about Wagner.
“The fact is, Paul Mango’s claims against Scott Wagner have already been heard and rejected by the elected state committee members, who at our meeting in February, overwhelmingly endorsed Scott Wagner to be our candidate for Governor,” DiGiorgio said.
“We would respectfully contest this statement that you made on behalf of the entire Republican Party of Pennsylvania because we had no idea that State Senator Scott Wagner was involved in these disputes. You may have known about the issues Mr. Mango highlights in his advertisement, but none of these issues were ever disseminated to the State Committee as you claimed in your statement,” the party members wrote.
Though those six state party members took issue with DiGiorgio and Wagner, other state party members are coming forward in support of Wagner.
“It’s been almost two and half months since we had the opportunity to select you to lead the fight against Tom Wolf this coming fall. Our Party endorsed you for many reasons, but above all else, we wanted you as our nominee because we saw that you were a proven fighter. We believed you would be able to take on whatever attacks the Democrats threw at you and overcome them,” a letter signed by 24 members of state committee reads.
“While we did not think that you would need to tap into that fighter’s mentality until the General Election, the way you have handled the inexcusable smears on your character over the past few weeks has reinforced to all of us why you were the right choice for us, both then and now.”
The state party has also not filed a finance report with the Pennsylvania covering the first quarter of 2018. The lack of a report could simply mean the filed late with the Department of State, or that they did not spend enough money to require filing.
PoliticsPA has reached out to the PA GOP for comment.
April 25, 2018
Ahead of crucial midterms, the PA GOP is short on staff and funding
Last December, the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania had just $15,000 cash on hand – millions less than the party traditionally boasts at the end of the calendar year. By all accounts, that sum was barely enough to keep the lights on at the PA GOP’s State Street office building in Harrisburg – not that there is much to illuminate these days.
A campaign and fundraising nerve center for Republicans across the state, the office boasted about 15 full-time employees during last year’s judicial elections – a number that even at the time indicated understaffing. Today, recent visitors say, the building is mostly empty, even though the critical November midterm elections are just around the corner.
“I think we usually had about 20 people; in presidential years, we probably had over 200, including field staff,” recalls former PA GOP chair Rob Gleason, who reigned over the state committee for 11 years. “One of the most effective things I was able to do was hire good staff. But you need a lot of money to do that.”
A Democratic rival put the current state of the PA GOP in stark terms.
“It is hard to maintain good staff without money,” said T.J. Rooney, a former chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. “But to only have $15,000 at the end of the year … forget about bonuses – you’re struggling to make the payroll.”
Indeed, financial records and sources familiar with committee operations indicate that the PA GOP skipped its traditional staff Christmas bonuses this year. Shortly after the holidays, most of the personnel that accompanied chairman Val DiGiorgio to Harrisburg in 2017 left in a wave of departures.
Two weeks ago, a PA GOP spokesperson confirmed the identity of just four permanent staff members, all of whom were recently hired after the exodus of senior employees. Executive director Rob Brooks, political director Tim Lagerman, deputy political director Derrick Backer, and communications director Greg Manz each departed in the last six months. A few weeks ago, finance director Laura Wagoner also gave notice.
The state committee downplayed the significance of staff turnover and apparent financial strain, although newly minted communications staffer Jason Gottesman, who took over for Manz, refused to comment directly on the subject of this article. He instead referred all questions to a recent statement that chairman Val DiGiorgio sent to all Republican state committee members.
That letter described the departure of Brooks – a close associate of DiGiorgio at the Chester County GOP who was brought on as an interim executive director – as part of a planned transition. The other staffers are all said to have “moved on to pursue great new opportunities.”
But several Republican operatives, all speaking on condition of anonymity, told a different story about the current state of PA GOP. Some speculated that deeper problems – either the party’s financial issues or some unspoken misconduct – had driven staff away en masse. Others said staff attrition and financial resources were linked to larger divisions within the party and internal unhappiness with DiGiorgio, who took over last year after an extremely tight and acrimonious contest with former party lawyer Lawrence Tabas.
Rooney said that regardless of the causes, few political operations plan for – let alone celebrate – the departure of key personnel just before crucial elections.
“People are supposed to leave in off-years. Now, we’re in the (election-year) cycle,” he said. “I’m all for people going on to greener pastures, but what’s out of place is that this didn’t happen last year.”
Dan Hayward, a former PA GOP executive director who now works as a managing partner at Novak Strategies, offered a different perspective.
“In 2003, we changed over staff significantly going into a presidential race and a hotly contested primary race. It’s maybe roughly analogous to what’s going on now,” he said. “It’s a stressful job. It doesn’t surprise me at all.”
But Hayward also described a far more robust operation 15 years ago.
“When I started as executive director in ’03, I probably had about eight or nine staffers in the building. At the end of the next year, I had a staff with a (field) component and state party personnel with close to 100 employees for the 2004 presidential race,” he said.
The finances of the state committee itself have withered compared to past years. In 2017, the PA GOP brought in $2.4 million in contributions, its lowest gross since 2005, when the party was nearly $1 million in debt. It also spent nearly its entire haul – and then some – as it burned through most of the $300,000 brought forward from the previous year.
It ended 2017 with just $75,000 cash on hand – minus $61,000 in unfulfilled vendor obligations. That sum includes a $28,000 invoice owed to Brooks’ own consulting firm.
For comparison, the party has historically brought in anywhere from $3.6 million to upwards of $10 million in recent years, including presidential runs, and has typically kept several hundred thousand dollars in reserve.
“I left the state committee in decent financial shape,” Gleason said, of his tenure. “It’s a tough job to be the state chairman. It takes a lot of money to run the state committee.”
It’s worth noting that the state committee regularly receives millions from the Republican National Committee and other national donors for congressional races. That money is earmarked via a separate federal committee, which recently reported about $118,000 in the bank.
While the state party controls these funds, that money is restricted by donor commitments and campaign finance laws.
“Only federal campaigns can use the federal money,” Gleason said. “You wouldn’t believe the paperwork. It’s a no-bullshit thing – it’s very stringent.”
The state funds are particularly key for Republicans because, unlike Democrats, GOP players across the state rely heavily on the state committee as a fundraising and support mechanism.
“With us, there are a million different repositories for us to fund the party and the campaign effort. We’re a big-tent party and we have a big financial tent,” Rooney, the former state Democratic Party leader, explained. “The Republicans’ money is typically run through the party itself from a smaller number of large donors….Their donor base is far more accustomed to writing checks to the Republican Party of Pennsylvania than ours is” accustomed to writing similar checks to the state Democratic Party.
The state committee provides a key support apparatus for campaigns across the commonwealth – Gleason said the PA GOP deploys a crucial ground game ahead of elections, paying for extra field staff, campaign supplies – even picking up the tab for costly election data and software.
“We are really charged with the conduct of statewide elections – everything from president down to judges,” he said. “I felt my job was to support the county committees, seek out good candidates and then support them as they conducted their general election campaigns.”
As repercussions from the PA GOP’s diminished stature began impacting campaigns across the state, some privately grumbled about DiGiorgio’s stewardship. A Southeastern PA Republican who threw his support behind Marco Rubio during the 2016 GOP primary campaign, the Chester County native was blasted from the outset by the party’s growing pro-Trump wing out west. Gleason, DiGiorgio’s predecessor, notably spun off his own pro-Trump PAC upon his departure – although Gleason denies seeking to take former donors with him.
More recently, DiGiorgio has waded into a bitter feud between state Sen. Scott Wagner and opponent Paul Mango, making several statements in support of Wagner, who was endorsed in a committee vote this past February. That decision invited more internal criticism, although some see a link between DiGiorgio’s actions and the committee’s shaky finances – Wagner is also a major donor, having injected some $335,000 of his own cash into Republican county committees and campaigns since January 2017.
Other factors weighing on party fundraising would be outside of any chairman’s control. Some point to the 2015 passing of John Templeton, a prolific GOP donor. Others say the rise of independent voters means fewer people are willing to donate directly to political parties.
Hayward also noted that DiGiorgio does not have a Republican governor to help boost statewide fundraising, as in some past years.
“(Former PA GOP chair) Alan Novak had Tom Ridge, who was an amazing party figure and fundraiser,” he said. “Having a powerful governor to help focus on organizational operations is huge. You look at Val with Tom Wolf … you have a different context.”
But Hayward added that he also believes there is still time to right the ship, particularly once the acrimonious primary battles subside. All past is merely prologue, he says, even with the General Election – and a much-discussed “Blue Wave” – just seven months away.
“In a contested primary, you always have a lot of black eyes…It’s how the party comes back together afterward that’s more important,” he said. “The real political work and party apparatus work is coming back together because we gotta win in November. And it ain’t going to be easy.”
DiGiorgio declined to be interviewed for this article. Source
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