Politics & Government

We cover politics and government with an eye to providing to voters clear, in-depth, nonpartisan information. 

Biden, Kaine To Speak In Pittsburgh Before Labor Day Parade

Sep 2, 2016
Molly Riley / AP

 

Vice President Joe Biden will speak before Pittsburgh's Labor Day parade along with the man Democrats hope will succeed him, Tim Kaine.

The vice presidential nominee and Biden will speak at 9 a.m. Monday before the annual parade kicks off.

Jaclyn Rothenberg, a Hillary for PA campaign spokeswoman, says Biden and Kaine will "celebrate the contributions of American workers and organized labor" and promote Hillary Clinton's economic plan.

Katie Meyer / WITF

Recent polls are showing Hillary Clinton leading by 8 points in Pennsylvania, and by even wider margins in and around big cities.

Clinton has focused much of her Pennsylvania ground time on those liberal urban areas. But on Tuesday, vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine ventured out to Lancaster to make an appeal to voters there.

Kaine gave a pointed speech at the Boys and Girls Club of Lancaster, making several overtures to small business owners, and pledging support for people struggling in the still-sluggish economy.

Tax Credits / Flickr

Pittsburgh’s pension funds continue to stumble and, for the second time in three years, Pennsylvania Attorney General Eugene DePasquale has launched an audit of the system.

DePasquale said Wednesday that he is not singling out Pittsburgh for additional audits.

“We think that this is one of the biggest financial challenges facing municipalities all over the state,” DePasquale said. “So we are really going to stay on top of this to make sure that cities are doing what they need to do to make sure (their pension programs) are financially in good shape.”

Pennsylvania's Convicted Ex-Top Prosecutor Swiftly Replaced

Aug 30, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

 

Pennsylvania lawmakers made a hasty return to the state Capitol from their summer recess on Tuesday as they rushed through a replacement for the state's convicted ex-attorney general.

The unanimous confirmation vote on Bruce Beemer comes less than two weeks after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf nominated him to head an office racked by infighting and scandal under Kathleen Kane.

John Bazemore / AP

In a speech Thursday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton accused her opponent Republican nominee Donald Trump of encouraging hate groups, saying he had built a campaign on prejudice and paranoia.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, seven organizations are identified as “hate groups,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center's "Hate Map." They're defined as organizations that “have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

John Minchillo / AP

 

Allegheny County has been held as a model for its handling of electronic voting testing and inspection. It’s the only county in Pennsylvania to conduct parallel testing, meaning an independent organization randomly selects machines on Election Day and simulates usage.

Flickr user CCFoodTravel.com

Buying Christmas presents is going to be a lot easier for Antoinette Palmieri this year.

Dick Thomas Johnson / Flickr

  An audit of the state Department of Education has found that the process to address appeals of charter school payment is unclear, and should be reexamined.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

On a Friday night in Altoona, the Blair County Convention Center was packed to the rafters with supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. There was an overflow room downstairs and a crowd waiting outside that couldn't get in. Trump discussed everything from ISIS to Supreme Court justices. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner wants an overhaul of the county’s ethics and disclosure process.

In an independent report over a two-year time period, Wagner said her office found multiple deficiencies in the county’s ethics code, which was enacted in 2001.

Matt Slocum / AP

U.S. Democratic Senate contender Katie McGinty went on the offense Monday, seeking to paint her opponent, incumbent Republican Pat Toomey, as an insincere flip-flopper.

Throughout her campaign, McGinty has played up her own working-class angle, presenting herself as a first-generation college grad—a claim she recently edited into a first generation four-year­ college grad—and a champion of the working class.

Toomey is the opposite, she said. 

Divided America: Diverse Millennials Are No Voting Monolith

Aug 23, 2016
Brennan Linsley / AP

 

The oldest millennials — nearing 20 when airplanes slammed into New York City's Twin Towers — are old enough to remember the relative economic prosperity of the 1990s, and when a different Clinton was running for president. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Former Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords is endorsing the re-election bids of Republicans U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, citing their votes on gun control.

Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, made the endorsements in a Monday editorial on behalf of their organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Giffords was gravely wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Arizona.

Legislative Data Processing Center

 A proposed bill is looking to change how Pennsylvania draws its legislative and congressional districts

The bill’s sponsor, Monroe County Republican David Parker said the measure would cut down on gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering is prevalent in Pennsylvania—it’s when legislative maps are drawn to benefit a political party.

Parker said the ultimate results don’t benefit constituents.

“When these districts become so large and kind of snake around and are odd shapes, it’s difficult for them to truly represent everybody in the whole district,” he said.

AP

Pennsylvania has a long history as an important swing state in presidential elections. But over the last decade, approximately, political shifts have kept the state swinging left again and again—Republicans haven’t won Pennsylvania since 1988.

Nevertheless, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are fighting hard for Keystone State votes this year.

According to Chris Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania has been like “fool’s gold” for Republicans in recent years: tantalizing, but just out of reach.

HelenCobain / flickr

Despite having a balanced 2016-2017 budget, Pennsylvania has taken out a loan to pay its bills. 

The state's $31.5 billion budget approved in June created revenue increases, including a new tax on video streaming services and higher taxes on tobacco, but some of those have yet to start flowing into the state.

Fearing the Revenue Department’s check book, officially known as its general fund, would hit zero before those new taxes arrived, the department asked the state treasurer to give it a $2.5 billion line of credit.

Clinton, Trump Battle In The Field

Aug 18, 2016
Bastiaan Slabbers / NewsWorks

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a voter registration rally Tuesday, packing several hundred supporters into the gym at West Philadelphia High School.

Looking ahead 85 days, Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are beginning to focus on the field effort they hope will help them win Pennsylvania on Nov. 8.

Jessica Griffin / Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, Pool

With Kathleen Kane stepping down as state attorney general after her felony conviction, the focus is now turning to how to restore public confidence in the scandal-ridden office.

Kane’s former first deputy Bruce Castor is taking over the AG duties for the time-being.

He said his first priority is to move the office forward.

“It’s what I’ve been trying to address since I got here, and that’s restore confidence in the public in the work that the Office of the Attorney General does,” Castor said.

Joe Raedle / Getty via NPR

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign will begin airing its first television ads of the general election in the coming days, the campaign confirms to NPR.

The ads will air in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada and North Carolina — all key battleground states where Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has taken leads or grown her leads in recent polls. 

Toomey, In Fight For Political Life, Abandons TPP Trade Deal

Aug 17, 2016
AFGE / Flickr

In a fight for his political life, Pennsylvania's U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey is abandoning a major international trade deal that has emerged as a divisive campaign issue.

Toomey, a Republican, wrote in an editorial published Wednesday that he's brought problems with the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement to the attention of the Obama administration, but they remain unfixed.

He said the agreement, as it stands now, isn't a good deal for Pennsylvania and he can't support it.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

During his campaign, Tom Wolf pitched himself as "a different kind of governor." He made good on a promise to donate his salary to charity and refuses to drive a state car. Upon taking office, he swiftly enacted a gift ban for the executive branch and has been known to refuse freebies, such as a bottle of water.

But the Wolf administration has continued one political tradition--nepotism.

Ted Murphy / Flickr

The fight between the City of Pittsburgh and the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, involving millions of dollars in gaming revenues, is over. 

Mel Evans / AP

 

 

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has belatedly reported receiving $160,000 in gifts from friends, including $45,000 worth of roof repairs and other home improvements.

Philly.com reports the Democrat omitted the gifts on annual statements of financial interest he filed from 2010 to 2015.

Williams issued a statement through his 2017 re-election campaign citing "the need for greater transparency."

His attorney, Samuel Stretton, called the omissions a "terrible mistake."

Attorney General Kane Resigns A Day After Felony Conviction

Aug 16, 2016
Clem Murray / Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, Pool

Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania's first elected female attorney general, announced her resignation Tuesday, a day after being convicted of abusing the powers of the state's top law enforcement office to smear a rival and lying under oath to cover it up.

Kane, A Convicted Felon, To Address Job Status As Wolf Calls For Her Resignation

Aug 16, 2016
Jessica Griffin / The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, Pool

 

Pennsylvania's attorney general showed little emotion as a Montgomery County jury convicted her late Monday on all nine counts, including two felony perjury counts, for leaking secret criminal files and lying about it.

Misty Johnson / Flickr

Pennsylvania plans to use a $250,000 federal grant to spend more than a year studying options for paid family leave programs.

The grant comes from money the federal Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau awarded to several states and cities to look into how paid family leave impacts workers and businesses.

Department of Labor and Industry Secretary, Kathy Manderino, said the state doesn’t yet have concrete plans for what it will do with the data. 

Kathleen Kane Found Guilty Of Nine Charges In Perjury Case

Aug 15, 2016
Bill Fraser / Bucks County Courier Times/AP

 

 

The state's attorney general was convicted Monday of all nine counts against her in a perjury and obstruction case related to a grand jury leak.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s credit rating has improved, though only slightly, with Moody’s Investor Service upgrading the commonwealth’s financial outlook from negative to stable.

Since 2014, Moody’s rating of Pennsylvania’s credit has been a relatively mediocre AA3.

Dan Seymour, Moody’s lead analyst for Pennsylvania, said that’s relatively low for a state.

Art Gentile / Bucks County Courier Times via AP, Pool

  A political consultant for Attorney General Kathleen Kane says her security agents took him to a parking garage, seized his phone, wallet and keys and searched him for a recording device before he had lunch with Kane at a luxury hotel.

Consultant Josh Morrow is testifying Thursday at Kane's perjury and obstruction trial. The first-term Democrat is accused of leaking grand jury files to the press to embarrass a rival.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Nearly three hours of testimony on the use of police body cameras before a state House committee on Wednesday boiled down to three main issues: when to record, how much to release to the public and how long to retain the files.

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