Blogs > Daily Local Dan

A blog that takes a look at West Chester area government, politics, and community events.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Question Answered

But if I were any of those five Republicans, I would be soooooooo mad!

Gerlach Will Continue Fighting for Families, Taxpayers and Seniors of the 6th District

Announces he will seek re-election to Congress this year

(Glenmoore, PA) - Republican Jim Gerlach, who has had the honor of serving as "Our Congressman" since 2002, renewed his commitment to the families, taxpayers and seniors of the 6th District, announcing that he will run for re-election this year. He issued the following statement explaining his decision:

"Less than 24 hours ago, I announced that I was ending my campaign to become Pennsylvania 's next governor and would continue working hard each day serving the public. Almost immediately, hundreds of concerned constituents and long-time supporters made phone calls and sent e-mails urging me to consider running for Congress again and offering to help in any way they could to keep me in this seat. I am extremely humbled by the response and grateful for the outpouring of kindness and encouragement. The overwhelming response let me know that the best way to continue serving the public is by protecting taxpayers and fighting for our families. And it has reinforced the decision I have made - after exhaustive deliberation with my extremely supportive wife, Karen and our children -- to seek another term representing the great people of the 6th Congressional District.

"Seeking re-election to the 6th Congressional District rather than running for governor will change my position on the ballot. However, my principles remain the same. I am committed to helping families keep more of their hard-earned paychecks, giving small businesses the freedom they need to create jobs and remain competitive and making sure the government lives within its means and works for the people.

"These are the same principles that guided me as a state lawmaker working with Gov. Tom Ridge to trim waste from the Pennsylvania budget and to pass historic Welfare reform legislation, which empowered millions of Pennsylvanians to cash paychecks rather than collect welfare checks. These are the same principles that guided me as a member of Congress to support tax cuts that have saved the average Pennsylvania family more than $2,000 per year and helped make prescription drugs more affordable for our seniors. And these are the same principles that guided me in 2009 when I stood up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and voted against the largest spending increase in our history, a misguided cap-and-trade bill that jeopardizes thousands of Pennsylvania manufacturing jobs and a health care scheme that would give the federal government unprecedented control over the daily lives of consumers, doctors and employers. I am energized, and will continue to be the best public servant I can be.

"I truly believe that I represent the best chance for Republicans to not only hold this seat, but play a major role in regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives. I have held this seat in the face of fiercely competitive elections in which opponents and liberal interest groups have spent millions against me in the worst political environments for Republicans in a generation. This year, taxpayers certainly have a lot on the line if Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are allowed to pursue their agenda of higher taxes and infinitely expanding government and wasteful spending. I am determined to make sure that does not happen and look forward to the campaign ahead and continued support of the voters."

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The Gerlach Tennyson Mashup!

(Or, this is what you get for being so freakin' vague)

U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-6th of West Pikeland, announced yesterday that he has ended his bid for governor. But he was vague about his plans for the future - he said last summer that, in order to concentrate on his gubernatorial campaign, he wouldn't seek another term in the U.S. House.

HOWEVER, yesterday's withdrawal announcement included some language that leaves open the possibility he will run for reelection to Congress. I can think of five Republicans who will be extremely annoyed. (For those of you not following the 6th district race, five Republicans have announced their interest in Gerlach's seat.)

I would bet my 1863 penny (Civil War soldiers could have used it!) that Gerlach won't run for reelection to Congress. The only way he would run is if the national Republicans, believing him still to be the most viable 6th District candidate, convinced him to do so. His staffers, anyway, have said that Gerlach will, within the next few days, give us a more concrete idea of his future plans.

But I'm interested in something else -- as a close observer of language, I'm interested in the wording of Gerlach's super strange withdrawal announcement. Not only is it shamelessly vague (as in: I'll do something noble yet, but I'm not sure what! Could be anything, or nothing!) -- it bears a no doubt unintended resemblance to Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Ulysses." In this poem, Tennyson imagines an elderly Odysseus leaving Ithaca and sailing for uncertain new adventures. The poem is a so-called "dramatic monologue" - it is entirely in Odysseus' voice. Odysseus never tells us what adventures he has in mind. In fact, we get the impression that Odysseus has no idea what adventures he has in mind. So, in this way he sounds like the Gerlach of yesterday's announcement.

To demonstrate this (as well as to demonstrate some loose structural parallels between the poem and the announcement), I've constructed a "mashup" of the last stanza of Tennyson's poem and the last two paragraphs of Gerlach's announcement:

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas.
While we have successfully raised
Over $1 million,
Traveled thousands of miles
All across this Commonwealth,
And signed up more than 19,000 supporters
Eager to help us win,
Today's media-driven campaigns
Require four times that amount
To wage a successful primary.
That left me with two choices:
Either spend all of my time raising money,
With little time left for meeting with voters;
Or withdraw my candidacy
And work even harder to serve the public.
I am choosing to serve the public –
Many of whom have graciously rewarded me
With their support for nearly two decades.
I want to express my tremendous appreciation to
And affection for
Our many contributors, supporters,
Volunteers, staff, and well-wishers:
My mariners, souls that have toil’d, and wrought,
And thought with me –
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads – you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil --
You have been nothing short of awesome.
And it is because of your support and encouragement
That I will continue to travel the Commonwealth
Advocating commonsense ideas to create jobs,
Reduce taxes and cut runaway spending,
And make government work for all of our families:
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
I want to be clear about one thing:
This campaign for governor has stoked my passion
For honest, effective, and efficient government --
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices.
And I intend to continue to raise my voice,
And work hard in the months and years ahead.
Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

First Sixth District Congressional Forum

What struck me most about this forum, held by the Chester County League of Women Voters at the Chester County Library on Sunday, was the candidates' closing statements.

Jim Gerlach, the Republican incumbent, said that there's more to a congressman than how he votes. He said he has a top-notch staff that is excellent at constituent services. He followed that with his standard line about how various publications have determined that he is one of the most independent-minded congressmen in Washington.

Bob Roggio, the Democratic challenger, closed with, "If you like the economy, vote for Jim Gerlach." He added that, because Gerlach has taken large sums from oil companies, he cannot be relied on to promote alternative energy.

Roggio was acting as if job number one was to criticize Gerlach and job number two was to talk about his own policies (Mark Campbell, I know you're listening. Want to lift that quote and throw it on a campaign mailer?)

Gerlach was acting like an incumbent who was sure he would be reelected - this in a district where he nearly lost three times, in a year that heavily favors Democrats.

Anyway, the point of my post is not to delve deeply into each campaign's strategy or lack thereof. It is to bring up a few issues the candidates discussed that did not appear in my article on the debate.

1) Immigration. Significant difference.

Roggio said that we should get tough on immigration. How? By increasing border security and enforcing already exist ant immigration laws. "It is illegal to hire illegal aliens ... if those laws had been enforced, we wouldn't be where we are today," he said. It is wrong, Roggio added, that 21 million illegal immigrants are taking advantage of America's tax-funded social services. He said that illegal immigrants should be returned to their homelands.

Gerlach also argued for increased border security. But he said that a "streamlined" process should be put in place so that illegal immigrants could go back to their home countries, get the proper papers, and come back to the U.S. in order to "fulfill their role in our economy."

2) Reinstating the Draft. Small difference.

Both candidates said that we shouldn't reinstate the draft.

But Roggio used the question as an opportunity to argue that Gerlach incorrectly supported the invasion of Iraq, which put an unnecessary strain on our military. He said that troops should be pulled out of Iraq and sent to "critical areas like Darfur or Afghanistan."

Gerlach said, "Defense folks tell us they are meeting their recruitment goals." He said the legislature should pass policies that will make it easier for military personnel to stay in the military.

3) Abortion. Small difference.

Both don't think the government should subsidize abortions. But while Roggio supports "comprehensive sex education," Gerlach supports "pre-pregnancy education." I have no idea what either of these terms mean, or what the difference between them is.

4) Infrastructure. Difference in detail.

Roggio argued that we need to rebuild our infrastructure. Rebuilding efforts, he said, will create jobs in these tough economic times.

Gerlach didn't disagree, but he said, "My opponent didn't say he had found a way to fund that." Gerlach pointed out that highway repair is paid for in part by the liquid fuels tax - fuel efficient cars and high fuel prices mean the government will be taking in less money from this tax. The solution? Look for alternative funding sources and possibly pursue public/private infrastructure projects. (Dan's note: For a local example of an ongoing public/private infrastructure project, see the Paoli Transportation Center).

5) The Iraq War's effect on the economy. Question not really answered.

Gerlach acknowledged that all government spending affects the economy. He added, "One thing we can't do is raise taxes as my opponent would do and expect to create more jobs ... Raising taxes, as my opponent would do, is a surefire way to send a heckuvalotta jobs overseas."

Roggio said he "agrees 100 percent" with Barack Obama's plan to cut taxes on the middle class. Ending the Iraq War, he said, will help the economy.

6) Aid to veterans.

I'm not touching this one. There were some accusations made by both candidates that I don't want to reprint without doing some fact checking.

7) The Iran Threat. Might be a difference.

Gerlach said, "We have to continue to use every economic and diplomatic means possible to get Ahmadinejad and his regime to back off nuclear weapons development ... and perhaps the Iranian people will change course."

Roggio said that the biggest threat facing the U.S. is Iran. "It's interesting that Jim Gerlach talks about diplomacy because as far as I can tell diplomacy between Iran and our Republican president began four months ago." He then said he agrees with Obama's plans for diplomacy with Iran.

OK - this post went longer than I expected. For the candidates' discussions of the economy, the environment and health care, see my article. I hope this post is useful to two or three people when they make their decision on Nov. 4.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wrapping up Gerlach's form allegations

What a sexy title for a blog post.

I got an email from Mark Campbell earlier this week asking me why in my last post on the subject I didn't explain why it was OK that Roggio left blank Schedule IV of his Financial Disclosure form.

Here's the response I sent him:

The directions on Schedule IV specify that none of Roggio's positions (unless there are ones we don't know about) need to be reported.

The Schedule IV directions:

"Report all positions, compensated or uncompensated, held on or before the date of filing during the current calendar year and in the two prior years as an officer, director, trustee of an organization, partner, proprietor, representative, employee, or consultant of any corporation, firm, partnership, or other business enterprise, any nonprofit organization, any labor organization, or any educational or other institution other than the United States.

"Exclude: Positions held in any religious, social, fraternal, or political entities; positions solely of an honorary nature; and positions listed on Schedule I."

As far as I can tell, Roggio isn't required to list the Senate job because it is with "the United States." And he doesn't have to list the Casey for PA job because it is with "a political entity."

If this analysis, as well as the one in my other post, are correct, then Roggio's first Financial Disclosure was complete and Gerlach's allegations are baseless.

However, not even the Roggio campaign agrees with my analyses.

After the Gerlach campaign sent out its allegations last week, Roggio responded by sending the House Ethics Committee an amendment to Schedule VI of his Financial Disclosure. I maintained that Roggio did not have to disclose either of his jobs in 2006 and 2007 on Schedule IV. The Roggio campaign said its lawyer advised Roggio to disclose these jobs, so he did.

"I'm sorry, I've read the form and the directions on filling it out again and again, and I just don't agree," I told Liz Conroy, Roggio's campaign manager.

"I'm going to defer to our lawyer on this one," Conroy said.

She added that Roggio might be "over reporting."

Better safe than sorry?

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shots Fired in the 6th District

The first shots were fired in this year's race between 6th District Republican incumbent Jim Gerlach and Democratic challenger Bob Roggio. (And races for the 6th District Congressional seat have a reputation for being nasty. See the 2006 "Lois Murphy Hates Jim Gerlach" ad campaign.)
Yesterday, Gerlach sent a complaint to the House Ethics Committee alleging that Roggio filed an incomplete Financial Disclosure Form, a form all U.S. Congressional candidates must complete.

The Gerlach campaign announced this with a scathing press release written by Mark Campbell, the campaign's attack dog. (This is the same guy who brought you Lois Hates Jim). Campbell's press release included a copy of Gerlach's complaint and of the actual form Roggio filed.

Shortly afterwards, Liz Conroy of the Roggio campaign sent this response.

When I read these press releases, I thought, "Hmm. This could be a story."

So I looked into it. Turns out the only thing Roggio did that he should not have done was check a box indicating that he received compensation of more than $5,000 from a single source in 2006 and 2007. He should have counted this "compensation" as "income." This makes a difference.

The House Ethics Committee counts "income" as pay from employment. It counts "compensation" as what a lawyer gets, for example, if paid directly by a client. Candidates are required to declare the source of the income they received during the last year. However, they must declare the source of the compensation they received during the last two years. This is true unless the U.S. Government gave you this income or compensation. Then you don't have to declare it.

If the resume Roggio sent me earlier this year is accurate, he was on the Senate payroll last year. Because this money came from the U.S. Government, Roggio doesn't have to declare it. He was on the payroll of Bob Casey for PA - a fundraising group - in 2006. If money he received then is "compensation" he has to declare it. If it is income, he doesn't, because he got it two years ago. And, in all likelihood, the House Ethics Committee would define it as income.

Roggio didn't write down either of these income sources on his Financial Disclosure Form, because he didn't have to. However, he checled a box indicating that he did recieve "compensation" of more than $5,000 from a single source in the last two years and did not name the sources. Gerlach's campaign is trying to say that Roggio did this to deceive voters.

It is in all likelihood a clerical error. I say this because yesterday, a pattern emerged. In what must have been a moment of panic, Roggio responded to Gerlach's move by sending the House Ethics Committee an incorrectly filled out amendment to his original filing, listing both his jobs over the last two years as sources of "compensation," not "income." Roggio may be thinking of his "income" as "compensation."

These forms are confusing. And you know what? Only those who wear a pretty good set of partisan blinders will care about this error. Unless the government fines or prosecutes Roggio. Then we'll care.

But we won't care that much. Gerlach made his own embarrasing clerical error several years ago - an error unlikely to make a ripple among undecided voters.

The Gerlach Campaign in 2004 said it raised $2 million more than it did. Lois Murphy, his Democratic challenger that year, filed a complaint with the FEC, and in 2007 the FEC fined the Gerlach's campaign $120,000. Gerlach paid the fine and said the financial misstatement was due to computer error. It probably was.

Of course, Gerlach admitted he was wrong and paid the hefty fine. Rules are rules.

Depending on what the House Ethics Committee decides, Roggio might have to pay a fine too.

Even though this issue will have little effect on how voters vote, Campbell is trying to keep the issue alive. Check out the press release he sent out today.

By the way - if you're looking for an online database of Comgressional Finance Disclosures, it doesn't exist. You actually have to drive to D.C. to get them.

"Or you could have one of your colleagues down here pick it up for you," the guy on the phone said.

Ha ha.

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