by Bob Guzzardi
|Real Deal 6 term Northampton DA John Morganelli who, unlike Josh Shapiro, has actual law enforcement experience, has actually tried criminal cases in a courtroom and has actually managed a prosecutor’s office ; Josh Shapiro is a politician, not a prosecutor, who solicits campaign contributions from county contractors who are, also, clients of his law firm.
DA Morganelli’s sets out the particulars below.
There is a question as to who can investigate. Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s newest hire, Bruce Castor, voted on these contracts as well. At the time, Bruce Castor was minority commissioner and voted YES, with Josh Shapiro on every county contract. (With the exception of one personnel appointment, Republican Bruce Castor voted YES with Democrat Josh Shapiro and, oddly, was hired by Democrat Attorney General Kathleen Kane at salary of $150,000 a year. Coincidentally, Republican Bruce Castor is representing Democrat Centre County DA Stacy Parks-Miller in a defamation suit.
Let us see whether the superficial, shallow and supercilious Democratic fellow travellers masquerading as journalists can bestir themselves from their cave of cluelessness. Of course, as Democrats, corruption and crony fundraising by a Democrat is a “business as usual”, “dog bites man” story and we can hardly expect them to get excited about campaign contributions from contractors and conflicts of interest of, perhaps, the next Democratic Attorney General. As Democrats think there is nothing wrong when a high profile Democrat does it. It’s not like Josh is a Republican, or worse, a Conservative.
“Where’s there’s smoke, there is fire.” Let us see if there is a fireman in Pennsylvania. Of course, Josh Shapiro, even if he is a politician, is entitled to presumption of innocence until found guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. You know…like Hillary Clinton who has never been found guilty of anything.
FYI Republican Rafferty is an bipartisan establishment crony himself.
DA John Morganelli To Seek Ethics Act Investigation Into Josh Shapiro’s Votes on Two County Contracts / Says Shapiro Failed to Disclose He was Awarding Montgomery County Contracts to His Law Firm’s Clients (emphasis added)
PECO Energy and Exelon Corporation were awarded a total of $2.5 million in Montgomery County contracts with Josh Shapiro’s vote in 2014 and 2015. What was not known, and not disclosed in the minutes of the Board of Commissioners meeting, was at the time Josh ran these contracts through, not only was he taking campaign cash from them, but he was also voting for business for his law firm’s clients– his clients. Stradley Ronon, Shapiro’s law firm, is the registered lobbyist for PECO and represents Exelon.
Because Josh Shapiro is compensated by Stradley Ronon, and because both PECO Energy and Exelon are paying customers to his law firm, Shapiro had a pecuniary interest in awarding the county contract to his own clients. In my opinion, this may have constituted a conflict of interest as defined under the Pennsylvania Ethics Act, and a violation of the Act.
Let me review the facts. On March 21st, I went to Montgomery County Courthouse to ask Josh Shapiro to come clean and disclose all county vendors that he has solicited for campaign contributions, and then voted on matters that awarded those same folks million dollar county contracts . I also asked the Montgomery County Controller to do an audit that would disclose all Montgomery County vendors who either right before, or right after they were awarded a lucrative county contract by Josh Shapiro, dropped large amounts of cash into Shapiro’s campaign coffers.
I cited 7 specific contracts that Shapiro voted on, and either right before or right after the vote, these vendors dumped money into Josh’s campaign coffers. They were as follows:
* February 20, 2015 – $2500 contribution to Shapiro
* March 6, 2015- Shapiro votes for a $400,000 contract award to McCormick Taylor for engineering services
And another $1,000 from a principal of McCormick on March 7,2016
Matt McTish ( McTish, Kunkel Associates)
* June 18,2014- Shapiro makes the motion and votes for $1 million dollar contract for construction inspection services
* February 23, 2015- Shapiro accepts $5,000 from Matt McTish
Exelon Corporation- energy company in Chicago/subsidiary is Constellation Co.
* June 19, 2014- $2.4 million dollar contract awarded
* February 19, 2015- Shapiro accepts $5,000 contribution from Exelon
And more recently, Exelon PAC contributed another $2500 to Shapiro on March 7, 2016.
PECO Energy Co
* October 15, 2015- PECO awarded a $73,896 contract
* October 19,2015- Shapiro accepts $1,000 contribution/ he had previously received a $500 contribution on 1/19/15
Gannet Fleming– engineering services
* February 18,2015- Shapiro accepts a $1,000 contribution
* October 15,2015- Gannet awarded a $285,400 contract
* January 15,2015- Aetna awarded a $2 million dollar contract for dental services
* March 20, 2015- Shapiro accepts $2500 fro Aetna PAC
Between 2012 and 2015 Shapiro accepted $30,000 in campaign contributions from the head of Allan Myers Construction Co. Myers was awarded an $11.5 million contract for highway work in Montgomery County- a contract Shapiro voted to increase by $3.4 million in August of 2014.
Unfortunately, my simple request was met with stonewalling. Josh Shapiro is stonewalling and the County Controller is silent.
But since that time, even more troubling information has now been developed that must now be met with even more scrutiny. The information about his law firm’s clients establishes that Josh is not what he wants us all to believe when it comes to good government. The truth is that he has used his position as a County Commissioner to not only reward his campaign contributors with lucrative county contracts, but he has also, in at least 2 county contracts, failed to disclose that he is using his position to steer lucrative county contracts to his own clients- vendors who are clients of his law firm- Stradley Ronon.
In 2009 Josh flipped his vote on a measure that would have kept legislators from getting paid by any firm that lobbies the legislature. It passed 198-0 in Democratic controlled House. 10 minutes later , Democrats had second thoughts and reversed it 100-98. Josh flipped because it would have cost him his counsel job at Stradley Ronon which lobbies the legislature. Post Gazette 2/6/09.
Roll vote no 33 2/4/09
Let me read the law itself:
65 Pa.C.S.A. § 1103
(a) Conflict of interest.–No public official or public employee shall engage in conduct that constitutes a conflict of interest.
(b) Seeking improper influence.–No person shall offer or give to a public official,…anything of monetary value, including …a political contribution, …based upon the offeror’s or donor’s understanding that the vote, official action or judgment of the public official… would be influenced thereby.
(c) Accepting improper influence.–No public official…., shall solicit or accept anything of monetary value, including a … political contribution,…. based on any understanding of that public official,… that the vote, official action or judgment of the public official …would be influenced thereby.
(j) Voting conflict.–Where voting conflicts are not otherwise addressed by the Constitution of Pennsylvania or by any law, rule, regulation, order or ordinance, the following procedure shall be employed. Any public official or public employee who in the discharge of his official duties would be required to vote on a matter that would result in a conflict of interest shall abstain from voting and, prior to the vote being taken, publicly announce and disclose the nature of his interest as a public record in a written memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting at which the vote is taken, provided that whenever a governing body would be unable to take any action on a matter before it because the number of members of the body required to abstain from voting under the provisions of this section makes the majority or other legally required vote of approval unattainable, then such members shall be permitted to vote if disclosures are made as otherwise provided herein. In the case of a three-member governing body of a political subdivision, where one member has abstained from voting as a result of a conflict of interest and the remaining two members of the governing body have cast opposing votes, the member who has abstained shall be permitted to vote to break the tie vote if disclosure is made as otherwise provided herein.
Today, I intend to file a request with the state Ethics Commission to investigate and determine whether Josh Shapiro violated the aforesaid law when he failed to disclose this interest and/or should have abstained from these votes involving his clients- PECO and Exelon. While they are at it, they should also look into the other votes made awarding lucrative contracts to campaign donors.
I was hoping that Josh himself would address these issues. But while he loves to give lofty speeches about transparency, gift bans, and good government, he fails to practice what he preaches in Montgomery County. The fact is that Josh Shapiro cannot run from this issue. I won’t let him hide behind spokespersons. And that is because, in this campaign to date, and in the forums we have participated in, Josh Shapiro likes to lecture everyone about ethics and integrity. He brags about his so-called “integrity agenda” for Pennsylvania. He says that he will adopt a gift ban that will forbid an official from accepting even a free cup of coffee so as not to be influenced with respect to his public duties. He says he will lead by example. Yet, his rhetoric does not match his conduct. He runs around with ethics and integrity on his sleeve, but where is that when it comes to his own conduct? Shapiro wants to ban state officials from accepting a free cup of coffee, but at the same time, in Montgomery County, Josh Shapiro has no problem at all soliciting campaign contributions from special interests who he then awards lucrative county contracts, including the clients of his own law firm.
Josh Shapiro needs to answer to this. He needs to stand here in front of the statewide media, and the people of Pennsylvania and address these issues. Not through some spokesperson who issue standard statements, but personally.