Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
A conservative activist group is mobilizing against a longtime Republican Senate aide’s nomination to one of Pennsylvania’s two mid-level appellate courts, saying that he “[embodies] the swamp,” and that Gov. Tom Wolf, who made the appointment “would have had to work hard to make a worse choice.”
The email campaign by the Lemoyne, Pa.-based Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania asks recipients to get in touch with their local senator to ask them to oppose the aide, Drew Crompton’s, nomination to Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.
An attorney with nearly three decades’ experience in the Senate, the Montgomery County native currently serves as counsel and chief of staff to Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson.
As someone who’s been close to every major legislative action for years, Crompton’s eventual confirmation, which must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate, “would raise serious questions about his impartiality in legal cases,” CAP wrote in its email.
“How will his involvement in the drafting of legislation, public statements, and issuance of internal documents impact his ability to hear cases? How many plaintiffs or defendants will seek his recusal? How disruptive will it be for the Senate to have parties to cases file suits seeking email communications on legal matters authored by Crompton?,” the group asked in an email blast obtained by the Capital-Star.
Crompton’s nomination has faced similar scrutiny from the non-partisan Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, which has also raised questions about his qualifications. Other sitting members of the appellate panel have “have far more judicial experience,” than he does, Maida Malone, the group’s president and CEO told the Capital-Star earlier this month.
The CAP email raises two, specific criticisms of Crompton’s Senate tenure.
First up is a 2005 memo that Crompton authored in the wake of the notorious government pay raises, suggesting that the grassroots groups that popped to protest the wage hikes needed to register as lobbyists.
In an editorial at the time, the Tribune-Review called the tactic “an orchestrated plan of attempted intimidation that, to this day, we believe is worthy of a Justice Department investigation.”
The email also takes issue with a $19,647 bonus Crompton received in 2007 when he returned to the legislative payroll after taking a leave of absence to work on former Steeler great Lynn Swann’s failed 2006 gubernatorial campaign.
Crompton told Capital-Star’s Elizabeth Hardison that the bonus was the result of his legislative work.
The bonuses nonetheless prompted a probe by then-GOP Attorney General Tom Corbett. While no one in the Senate GOP was ever charged, Democratic and Republican lawmakers, and some staff, in the state House were convicted and sent to prison as a result of the investigation that became widely known as Bonusgate.
This isn’t the first time that CAP has gone after an ideological fellow traveler for what it views as insufficient adherence to orthodoxy.
In 2018, the group helped orchestrate the successful primary season ouster of former Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Allegheny.
In 2017, Vulakovich voted, along with most of his GOP colleagues, for a revenue package that included a severance tax on natural gas drillers. The Senate-approved package, intended to break a budget deadlock, sank in the House.
But sending Vulakovich packing ended up being a Pyrrhic victory. Democrats flipped the seat in 2018 with the victory of now-Sen. Lindsey Williams. So make of that putative Midas touch what you will, we suppose.
Reached for comment on Monday, Crompton observed that CAP’s “definition of a conservative has always been a restrictive one.”
“I have worked on many more issues that they likely support than oppose, but I respect their right to say what they choose,” he said.
Two formerly incarcerated people who recently had their sentences commuted will be spending Thanksgiving at home for the first time in decades this year. They accompanied LG John Fetterman, who’s made pardons reform his Big Issue, to Monday’s Pa. Press Club luncheon.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society has thrown its support to safe-injection sites, arguing that they’ll save lives and money. Elizabeth Hardison has the story.
Stephen Caruso has what you need to know about the latest in legislative retirements.
From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune: Despite facing a mountain of challenges, Cheyney University will keep its accreditation. And the jury in an officer-involved shooting will come from Philadelphia.
Philly officials decriminalized marijuana – but if you get caught with it while you’re on probation, you still risk going back to jail, the Inquirer reports.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, there’s no added danger from Saturday hunting — unless you’re a deer, we suppose. The Post-Gazette has the story.
Lawmakers, judges and senior executive branch officials will get a 1.9 percent bump in base pay in 2020, thanks to an automatic cost-of-living increase, the Associated Press reports (via PennLive).
Rep. Rosemary Brown, R-Monroe, has joined the ranks of lawmakers, pushing a ban on handheld cell phone use by Pa. drivers, the Morning Call reports. Ban efforts have come and gone to no avail.
Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:
The Neshaminy School District in Bucks County can keep using a controversial Native American nickname for some of its sports teams, the Pa. Human Relations Commission has ruled (via WHYY-FM).
Domestic violence groups say it’s hard to gauge the impact of Pennsylvania’s new gun law taking weapons away faster from abusers. The PA Post has the story.
Stateline.org looks at the ‘tumultuous life’ of an independent redistricting commissioner.
The House Intel Committee’s impeachment report will be delivered soon after the end of Congress’ Thanksgiving recess, Roll Call reports.
Gov. Tom Wolf heads to Reading for a 10 a.m. event at Muhlenberg High School, where he’ll sign those statute of limitations reform bills into law. The school is in the district of Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, a clergy abuse survivor who’s been at the front of the reform push. And at 3:45 p.m. Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf will volunteer at the Central Penn Food Bank for Thanksgiving prep operations.
What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
Rep. Frank Farry, R-Bucks, holds a 5:30 p.m. reception at Bella Tori at the Mansion in scenic Langhorne, Pa. Come for the $1,000 maximum ask. Stay, we guess, for the chicken parm that’s also on the menu for this event.
Here’s one from iconic Aussie pub rockers Cold Chisel. It’s ‘Getting the Band Back Together.’ We dare you not to rock along during this one.
Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Anaheim finally put the brakes on New York’s amazing 17-point run on Monday. The Ducks beat the Isles 3-0 on Monday, ending a regulation win streak that’s lasted since Oct. 11.
And now you’re up to date.