Sestak on His Own Ethics Policy: “Never Mind”; Where is the “Accountability” Joe?
For Immediate Release—July 20, 2010
Contact: Nachama Soloveichik • Communications Director • 484.809.7994 • 646.528.1029
Contact: Kristin Anderson • Deputy Communications Director • 484.809.7994 • 612.280.5196
Contact: Tim Kelly • Press Secretary • 484.809.7994
Allentown, PA – After months of talking about accountability in Washington, Congressman Joe Sestak refuses to be accountable for his own words and promises.
Here’s the chronology:
Step 1: For months, Congressman Sestak talked a big game about wanting to end Washington’s corrupt and wasteful spending system, all the while continuing to cast free-standing YES votes in favor of such wasteful earmarks as the American Jazz Museum in Missouri (RC #679, 07/19/07), the Mule and Packers Museum in California (RC #700, 07/24/07), and the Kansas Regional Prison Museum (RC #670, 07/18/07). For these votes and many others in favor of wasteful spending, Sestak earned a zero, yes, a zero rating from Citizens Against Government Waste.
Step 2: Congressman Sestak takes his grandstanding a step further by posting on his own campaign website an “ethics pledge” to return campaign contributions that are donated from organizations or individuals who sought earmarks from his congressional office.
Step 3: Last week, the Philadelphia Inquirer did an investigation and found that Sestak has violated his own “ethics pledge,” taking $119,650 in contributions from individuals and organizations who received earmarks from him.
Step 4: Yesterday, Sestak told the Philadelphia Daily News that he “did not know the names of the contributors who had received earmarks.”
Step 5: Yesterday, Sestak told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review that he is now changing his own ethics pledge, saying he amended it just yesterday, claiming that it was “an internal office policy that applies only to senior executives of companies who donate to his campaign during the appropriations process.”
The Toomey campaign cites several problems with Congressman Sestak’s position:
1) If Sestak thinks earmarks are bad, then why did he vote to spend Pennsylvanians’ tax dollars on the American Jazz Museum, the Mule and Packers Museum, and the Kansas Regional Prison Museum, among many other wasteful items?
2) If Sestak thinks it’s wrong to take campaign contributions from donors who have benefited from his earmarks, then why change his policy now?
3) If Sestak puts an “ethics pledge” on his campaign website and then systematically violates that pledge, what is the “accountable” thing to do: Go back and stick to the pledge you made by returning $119,650 in contributions or retroactively change the “ethics pledge?”
4) If Sestak really has trouble finding the names of his contributors who have received earmarks, here is a list of some of the names of senior officers who have donated to Sestak’s campaign and whose companies have received millions of dollars in earmarks through Congressman Sestak’s office:
- Michael Piasecki, President, Dragonfly Pictures Inc., $9,500
- Gregory Piasecki, CFO, Dragonfly Pictures Inc., $11,800
- George Cornelius, President/CEO, Arkema Inc., $2,300
- Charles Wardlaw, Vice President, Arkema Inc., $250
- Jean H. McManus, President, Peak Beam Systems, $9,300
- Annie McManus, Director of Marketing, Peak Beam Systems, $3,000
- Robert Schena, CEO, Rajant Corp, $4,700
- Frank N. Piasecki, Founder, Piasecki Aircraft, $4,600
- Frederick Piasecki, Chairman of the Board & CTO, Piasecki Aircraft, $4,600
- John W. Piasecki, Vice-President, Piasecki Aircraft, $5,600
- Lockheed Martin PAC, $7,500
- Harshad Mehta, President & CEO, Silicon Power Corporation, $3,400
- William P. Loftus, CEO, Gestalt LLC, $4,800
- William P. Loftus, Managing Director, Accenture National Security Services, $4,700
It’s curious that Congressman Sestak did not know the names of the contributors who have received earmarks from his campaign when one such contributor, William Loftus, held a fundraiser for Congressman Sestak in his home just last month.
“There are multiple problems with Congressman Sestak’s dissembling; first and foremost is the blatant violation of an explicit ethics pledge on his own campaign website,” Toomey Communications Director Nachama Soloveichik said. “Congressman Sestak posted an earmarks pledge under the ethics section of his website in a bogus attempt to burnish his alleged reformer credentials, and now that he is pressed to live up to his own ethics pledge, he claims that he didn’t really mean it. So much for accountability.”
“If Congressman Sestak wants Pennsylvanians to trust him, he should return the $119,650 he took from earmark recipients in violation of his own promise. Pennsylvanians deserve better than broken promises and empty gestures from another Washington politician.”