News & Brews September 19, 2023

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Nearly $150K to Dem campaign director ‘unaccounted for’

Earlier this summer, Broad + Liberty’s Todd Shepherd reported that Trevor Southerland, the head of the Pa. House Democrat Campaign Committee, “had received more than $365,000 in payments categorized as ‘reimbursements’ since coming onboard with the organization in 2021.” Now, Shepherd writes that in response to a request for proof of expenses, Southerland provided proof for nearly $200K, leaving about $150K unaccounted for. Yet, he “only provided receipts (mainly by credit card statements) in bulk. He did not categorize his expenses by the campaign finance cycles prescribed by Pennsylvania law.” Now, one lawmaker is introducing legislation “that would require line-by-line itemization for things like expense reports, or making a single monthly payment to a credit card bill that might contain dozens of different purchases.”

Senate ditches dress code for Fetterman

The Delaware Valley Journal reports that the U.S. Senate dress code has been eliminated for senators to allow Sen. John Fetterman to wear his trademark hoodie and shorts. “The dress code has been dumped in an accommodation of Fetterman’s fashion choices. For senators, anyway. Staff and visitors must still wear suit jackets, dresses, and other traditional business attire.” The decision drew some criticism. David Urban, who served as chief of staff to the late Sen. Arlen Spector, said, “It is serious work that you’re doing in the Senate. You’re not gardening. You’re running the nation.” And the fact that the ‘no-rules’ applies only to senators and not to others on the floor? It seems that’s another instance of “Rules for thee but not for me.”

Op-Ed: Pa. ‘deserves the truth on education spending’

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Vice President Nathan Benefield tackles “misinformation about public education spending” in Pennsylvania. “Despite claims to the contrary, Pennsylvania ranks among the highest-spending states – seventh nationwide. Moreover, revenues from state, local, and federal funds all exceed the national average.” He adds, “Despite all the news stories about a ‘teacher shortage,’ Pennsylvania suffers from a student shortage. Compared to twenty years ago, Pennsylvania public schools have 139,000 fewer students and 21,145 more employees…. Meanwhile, the average public school teacher salary – $75,000 – ranks 12th highest in the nation.”

Former Pa. govs endorse open primaries

Spotlight PA reports that five former Pa. governors—Ridge, Schweiker, Rendell, Corbett, and Wolf—have signed onto a letter in support of allowing independent and unaffiliated voters to vote in primary elections. In response, GOP consultant Chris Nicholas tweeted, “Respectfully, all 5 of them are wrong. About half of Pa’s registered R & D don’t vote in primaries…but Indies will??” And the Commonwealth Foundation’s Nate Benefield tweeted an additional reply, “It’s actually 60 to 70 percent of Rs and Ds that stay home in primaries. And it takes about 40 seconds to go online and change your party registration before a primary. I don’t oppose open primaries, but the idea [that] there are 1M independents who want to vote but can’t is a joke.”

Shapiro changes voter registration prompt at driver’s license centers

It’s a small change, but Gov. Josh Shapiro says he can do it without legislation or regulation. The AP reports that starting today, “prompts on the computer screens in driver’s license centers will take the user to a template to register to vote. That leaves it up to them to choose not to register. Previously, prompts on the computer screen first asked the user whether they wanted to register to vote.”

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