Commentary

On his way out the door, Pa.’s Toomey calls for Biden admin. to be investigated over personnel practices | Tuesday Morning Coffee

June 22, 2021 7:10 am

Sen. Pat Toomey. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers. 

He might only have a year-and-a-half left in his second, and final term, but U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., apparently won’t be spending that time phoning it in.

The Lehigh Valley lawmaker, who’s the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, blasted out letters late last week to federal regulators asking them to review allegations of “prohibited personnel practices” by the Biden administrationaccording to a published report.

Toomey’s letters to the Consumer Financial Protection BureauPresident Joe Biden’s pick to lead the federal agency, and its inspector general, came in the wake of a report by the insider magazine Government Executive, that the White House took “an unusually aggressive approach to clean house at the top career executive level within CFPB, including by offering separation incentives and launching investigations into staff members.”

So, “in light of the seriousness of the allegations in this report, as well as the implication that these actions may have been undertaken to provide the administration’s nominee for director of the CFPBRohit Chopra, with the opportunity to hire a hand-picked team of loyalists for senior positions, I request that your office promptly review the allegations,” Toomey wrote to Mark Bialek, who’s the inspector general for both the Federal Reserve and CFPBGovernment Executive reported.

Toomey added that, if the allegations were found to be credible, that Bialek’s office conduct a full investigation into whether the personnel moves violated federal law, the trade pub reported.

President Joe Biden discusses the details of his $2 trillion infrastructure plan during a stop at Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. on Wednesday, 3/31/21 (C-Span screen capture)

According to Government Executive, who cited current and former employees, the White House had been looking to push out top staff at the CPFB because of their ties to the Trump administration. The White House also has a list of people to fill new vacancies. Unlike political appointees, however, career federal employees don’t serve at the pleasure of the executive, the magazine noted.

More, from Government Executive:

“In his letter to Chopra, a current commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission and Biden’s CFPB director-designate, Toomey asked about the nominee’s awareness of efforts to sideline career staff and his involvement in any such personnel decisions.

“The senator asked acting CFPB Director Dave Uejio for specifics on who has been offered separation incentives, who was placed on administrative leave while under investigation and whether Chopra was involved.

John Manibusan, a spokesman for the Federal Reserve and CFPB IG, said Toomey’s request is currently under review.”

It’s the Pat Toomeyest of all investigation requests — but one that might bear watching.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
A proposed constitutional change that would require Pennsylvanians to show identification every time they vote is headed to the floor of the Pennsylvania state Senate. Marley Parish has the details.

Employees at 12 Pennsylvania nursing homes voted to authorize strikes this week, citing low pay and short staffing, as closed-door negotiations wear on in Harrisburg on how to spend $7.3 billion in federal COVID-19 aid, Stephen Caruso reports.

In her first visit since taking office, Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Pittsburgh on a hot and humid Monday to tout the Biden administration’s child tax creditCapital-Star Pittsburgh Correspondent Kim Lyons reports.

College athletes scored a big win in their dispute with the NCAA as the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that the athletic sanctioning body isn’t exempt from antitrust lawCapital-Star Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa has the details.

On our Commentary Page this morning, Jacquelyn Bonomo calls on Gov. Tom Wolf to veto any bill that would bar the state from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. And state Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, and Adam Garber, of CeaseFirePA, say this year’s state budget must include money to fight gun violence across the state.

Image via Flickr Commons

Elsewhere.
Spotlight PA
 explains how one lawmaker, Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, has billed the taxpayers for $1.8 million in expenses since taking office in 1994 (via The Inquirer).
Pennsylvania’s interstate highways need major improvements, the Post-Gazette reports, citing new research.
Long-serving Harrisburg Chamber CEO David Black will retire at the end of the monthPennLive reports.
The city of Lancaster has a new police chiefLancasterOnline has the details (paywall).
The Morning Call considers whether rail service between the Lehigh Valley and New York City could finally become reality.
The state House is poised to pass election partisan reform billsUSA Today’s Pennsylvania Capital Bureau reports.
Officials in Luzerne County are expected to appoint an acting county manager today, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

With the eviction moratorium set to expire, officials in Chester County are reminding residents to seek helpWHYY-FM reports.
WESA-FM explains how a Pennsylvania tax generates millions of dollars for affordable housing, but a state law prevents it from generating millions of more dollars in assistance.
Erie’s manufacturers have plenty of job openings to fillGoErie reports (paywall).
The Observer-Reporter looks at a push to expand Pennsylvania’s film tax credit program.
Veteran Harrisburg PR hand Charlie Gerow has announced a GOP bid for governorPoliticsPA reports.
Stateline.org looks at the push by hospitals (and the pushback) to require employees to get vaccinated.
A budget plan advanced by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.would spend more, but tax less, than President Joe Biden’s plan, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
The House comes in at 11 a.m., the Senate convenes at 1 p.m. Here’s a look at the day’s event schedule.
9 a.m., Media Center: The Bipartisan Legislative Task Force on Juvenile Justice releases its report on how to reform the system.
9 a.m., B-31 Main Capitol: Reps. Jared Solomon, Chris Rabb and Chris Quinn on election reform and open primaries.
10 am., Media Center: Event launching the Pa. Chamber of Black-owned business
11 a.m., Media Center: Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, and other lawmakers talk about measures preventing gun violence.
11:30 a.m., Ryan Building Rotunda: Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, talks about his opposition to the state joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
7:30 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Valerie Gaydos
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Dianne Herrin
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Joe Kerwin
8 am.: 
Breakfast for Rep. George Dunbar
5 p.m.: 
Reception for Rep. Patty Kim
Ride the circuit and give at the max, and you’re out a mildly offensive $9,000 today.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf
 has no public schedule today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Russ Walker, at LancasterOnline, and to my old friend and colleague, Christine Schiavo, recently of the Allentown Morning Call, both of whom celebrate today. Congratulations and enjoy the day, friends.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s ‘Solar Power,’ the long-awaited return from New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde that’s custom built to become your song of the summer. Extreme bonus points for channeling Primal Scream’s classic ‘Loaded‘ on the outro.

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Tampa 
rolled right over the Islanders on Monday, winning 8-0, to take a 3-2 series lead. Ouch.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.

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