What a week: Porno emails and strange ads in the Keystone State

    Screenshot from ad supporting Tom Corbett and other Republican candidates.

    Screenshot from ad supporting Tom Corbett and other Republican candidates.

    Harrisburg may not be where you go for a good time, but I have to say it’s been an entertaining week in Pennsylvania politics. L’affaire porno emails has now taken down a cabinet official and tainted a State Supreme Court justice, and the political ads in the governor’s race are getting downright weird (see above).

     

    Thursday afternoon we learned of the resignation of Chris Abruzzo, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, who cited a “lack of judgment” in his resignation letter.  We don’t know why he’s the only one of four state officials cited by state Attorney General Kathleen Kane as having trafficked in the naughty emails to lose his job, but I expect we’ll learn eventually, and the answer will be interesting.

    (UPDATE: Gov. Corbett has also accepted the resignation of  DEP Deputy General Counsel Glenn Parno, saying in a statement that “this type of activity does not belong in the workplace and I find it inexcusable.” Corbett also indicated he won’t take action against State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. I’ve attached the full text of the statement at the end of this post.)

    And, out of the blue, Steve Esack of the Allentown Morning Call reports that state Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery sent some sexually explicit emails from a private email account to an employee of the state attorney general’s office and others.

    McCaffery didn’t have much to say about the emails before telling an inquiring reporter to get off his property. A number us of wondered whether state Supreme Court Justice Ron Castille might have had McCaffery in mind when he sought copies of the emails from the AG’s office after Kane released some information about them. Castille and McCaffery don’t exactly get along. More to come on this story also, no doubt.

    And, for fun, check out the video ad above produced the College Republican National Committee promoting the re-election of Gov. Tom Corbett. Our buddy John Micek of the Patriot News-Penn Live editorial board called the ad brilliant, or awful, or some fantastic combination of the two. I can’t disagree.

    In the ad, a bride must choose between the beautiful and affordable Tom Corbett wedding dress and the inferior, overpriced Tom Wolf dress her stupid mother wants, and she makes the right call. It turns out to be a generic spot the same cast has produced for Republicans in several races.

    This follows a kind of clever, satiric ad the Corbett campaign produced in which actors portray voters excited at the prospect that Wolf will raise their taxes.

    I must note that the only tax increase Wolf has proposed is an extraction tax on natural gas. He has proposed a change to the state income tax to make it more progressive, which would raise taxes for higher-income earners and lower them for most taxpayers.

    Wolf hasn’t spelled out the details of his plan, but he’s said that he regards a middle-class income as $70,000-$90,000 a year for an individual and twice that for a married couple.

    Here’s Governor Corbett’s statement on the resignations and the emails, released Thursday evening at 7:25 p.m. :

    “On Thursday, September 25, my administration requested a full and complete accounting of email transactions associated with the distribution and transmittal of inappropriate content using government resources and between individuals within and outside the Office of Attorney General between 2008 and 2012. This afternoon, information concerning Chris Abruzzo, Glenn Parno and Frank Noonan was received.  Information concerning Randy Feathers was not provided and is expected to be provided in the coming days.

    “Earlier today, I accepted the resignation of Chris Abruzzo. This evening, I accepted the resignation of DEP Deputy Chief Counsel Glenn Parno, effective immediately.

    “Information received regarding State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan’s account indicates that he did not participate in opening, originating, forwarding or replying to any message. It is important that Commissioner Noonan remain focused on the critical public safety mission he is leading in the manhunt for Eric Frein and that there is no disruption in the work underway in this case.

    “As I have said, I do not condone or tolerate comments or behavior degrading to individuals, written or otherwise.  This type of activity does not belong in the workplace and I find it inexcusable.

    “I call upon the Attorney General to release to the public, in a complete and unbiased manner, all of the information on all individuals associated with this issue.  Such action is in the best interest of the public and will serve to regain trust in those who work in public service.”

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