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Lawmaker money: Corbett says no, but Cawley says yes

Thursday, October 28th, 2010



Pennsylvania lawmakers have contributed thousands of dollars to Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley in the months since he won the Republican lieutenant governor primary, and became Attorney General Tom Corbett’s running mate. That’s despite Corbett’s self-imposed ban on donations from legislators, which stems from his ongoing investigation of corruption at the state Capitol.

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati is Cawley’s top backer, with a $50,000 contribution from his campaign account. The Senate Republican Campaign Committee has also donated $50,000 to Cawley. Other sitting lawmakers who donated include Republican Representatives Kate Harper, Scott Petri and RoseMarie Swanger, and Senator Don White.

Another Cawley contributor? Brian Preski, who Corbett has charged on six counts of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest for allegedly using public resources to conduct campaign work for House Republicans.

Corbett said he had no idea lawmakers were contributing to Cawley, until reporters asked about it on the campaign trail today. He said the running mates never discussed whether or not Cawley would abide by Corbett’s self-imposed restrictions.

“We haven’t even talked about that. I’m not even aware of what his fundraising is, because we do all our own fundraising. So it’s something I’ll have to take into consideration and talk about.” 

Corbett argued Cawley is running a separate campaign, and covers his own expenses.

“It’s totally independent. It has no effect on me on me in this race, it has no effect on me as Attorney General. As you know, I’ve told the staff, you go forward and conduct your investigation the way you see fit.” 

Still, Corbett and Cawley are running on the same ticket, and Cawley is campaigning across the state on Corbett’s behalf.

Cawley defended the donations during an afternoon phone call, saying he shouldn’t be bound by Corbett’s restrictions.

“His office is responsible for the Bonusgate investigation, and I am a Bucks County commissioner. I appropriately cannot and do not have any influence over the course of the Bonusgate investigation.”

Like Corbett, Cawley insisted the two campaigns are financially independent.

“I have arrangements with contractors who work for me exclusively. For my lieutenant governor’s race I pay for my own travel. I pay for my own cell phone and blackberry. It was my desire, as I said, not to be a draw on the bottom line, and that’s why we kept the two campaign accounts separate.”

Democrat Dan Onorato’s spokesman, Brian Herman, said Cawley’s disregard for Corbett’s ban shows the Republican’s words don’t match his actions.

“This is another example of Tom Corbett’s hypocrisy. He is constantly saying one thing when his actions and his records say something else. This particular example, his words and his deeds on reform don’t match. He also likes to speak a lot about fiscal responsibility, but he’s asked for more money in his budget every year.”


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