March 18, 2016

Mo’ Ethics, Mo’ Problems For Katie McGinty

Pennsylvania senate candidate Katie McGinty’s open reliance on outside special interest groups to stand a chance of turning around her inept primary campaign has already earned her scores of bad headlines, but it turns out there may be more dire consequences for McGinty – like an election law violation.

Coordination between a campaign and outside groups is illegal, and that’s exactly what McGinty campaign chairman Ed Rendell appeared to have done when he disclosed details about a planned television ad buy from left-wing pro-choice group EMILYs List.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported:

Last week [Rendell] told Politico that EMILY’s List would be in charge of what Politico called “the pro-McGinty independent expenditure operation” that would include a $2 million television buy partially funded by the League of Conservation Voters.

It is illegal for campaign committees to consult with super PACs, and the Republican Party of Pennsylvania pounced. It filed a complaint Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission, saying Mr. Rendell couldn’t have known those details if he hadn’t consulted with EMILY’s List.

EMILYs list clearly recognized that Rendell had crossed the line:

EMILY’s List distanced itself from Mr. Rendell’s remarks to Politico.

“Mr. Rendell was clearly speaking on his own accord, and not on behalf of EMILY’s List — nor is he authorized to do so,” spokeswoman Marcy Stech said in a brief written statement Tuesday.

In a botched attempt at cleanup, Rendell gave PennLive a statement straight out of a “Three Stooges” mock whodunit, saying he don’t know nothin’:

“I sent $10,000 from my PAC — that’s it,” he said. “I don’t know anything about who their consultants are, their strategy or what kinds of ads they plan to run. I know nothing and I did not inquire.”

McGinty is no stranger to ethics controversies. Her many trips through the revolving door between lobbyist and government work, and false statements about campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, have come under scrutiny in the campaign, and she narrowly avoided serious consequences for her unethical behavior as head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. The Allentown Morning Call reported:

[McGinty’s] career has not been without bumps. In 2007, she was the subject of a state Ethics Commission review over whether she steered state grants to a firm where her husband worked as a consultant. The commission concluded McGinty could be subject to violations if she continued overseeing the grant process.

With each passing day, it becomes clearer and clearer that McGinty is not simply an inept candidate, she’s an unethical politician who has put her political ambitions ahead of the public good at ever step of her career.