Funny Money in Derry Township?

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During the League of Women Voters’ candidates forum, I reconfirmed my pledge from my 2011 write-in campaign: not to take corporate or other non-constituent funds. My running mate Matt Weir confirmed he would not either. Our campaign finance reports prove we have been good to our word. One of our opponents, Justin Engle, promised he would take no corporate funds, for which I have repeatedly and publicly congratulated him.

But Engle and running mate Sue Stough’s contributors – including Engle’s largest, an out-of-town land developer, Doug Gelder – aren’t buying those many thousands of dollars worth of postcards you’ve all been receiving: “Moving Derry Forward” (MDF) is. So far, our home has received five (one more Nov 1), and I’m their opponent!

The major source of all MDF funds – indeed, the only one reporting this cycle – is Mike Musser’s “Better Government for PA” (BGP). BGP tends to finance candidates who have views opposite my own on campaign finance, and on things like transparency, which would (ironically) make government better. For a local example, PennLive reported last week that BGP is currently funding Eric Epstein’s and Jay Purdy’s opponents for Central Dauphin School Board, to the tune of over $8,000.

And who funds BGP? According to their 2013 finance reports, a combination of people and corporations from everywhere from Middletown to Pittsburg to Florida. Major donors include PA lobbyists McNees, Wallace and Nurick; Greenlee Associates and Eckert-Seamans, and our township engineer, HRG. HRG received 7 figures worth of no-bid, no peer oversight contracts from your tax dollars. Just last year.

And why do these people even care who we Derry Twp residents elect to lead us? Why would they print and mail all those expensive glossy flyers, detailing Engle and Stough talking points? Why are Mike Musser and his political allies funding almost 1/3 of our opponents’ campaign here in Derry Township? Why didn’t Engle/Stough just take the funding directly, instead of going through such convolutions? Were they trying to hide the donations? Are they embarrassed of the source of the donations?

But most critically: why would anyone need tens of thousands of dollars for a local campaign? Matt and I are doing just fine competing in the same race, with around $5,000.

Those are the questions you must each ask yourselves before you enter the voting booth next Tuesday. Matt and I have taken no corporate funds or services. Exactly as we promised you. We will Put Residents First, because we will not owe any allegiance to anyone from Florida.

On Tuesday, Nov 5, vote wisely, Derry. And if this threat to our democratic republic matters to you as it does to me, vote it down on Tuesday.

Tell Mike Musser and his minions to go run all the other elections in places he doesn’t live, but that OUR Derry Township is off limits. Or, opt not to, and the same folks will keep pulling the same strings, as we wonder “what’s going on?”.

Thank you.

(UPDATE: Nov 2)

I just got an anonymous tip, from a source I consider extremely in-the-know, and extremely reliable.

Source says Musser’s minions are flooding the Lower Dauphin race as well. But there aren’t even any filings for any LD candidates or At-Large Committees:

http://www.dauphincounty.org/government/Elections-and-Voter-Registration/Campaign-Finances/Pages/2013.aspx

Could there be another “misplaced” campaign finance report? Stay tuned…

(UPDATE: Nov 3)

Please share the following press release, sent yesterday to major and local media. Otherwise, our neighbors might accidentally not have all they need to select the most transparent folks to Put Residents First:

For Immediate Release

Contact: Sandy Ballard 435-5176
Steve Todd – 534-0695
Matt Weir – 534-1235

Outside Money Channeled Through Two
PACs Harms Integrity of Derry Township Supervisors Race

Derry Township Supervisor Candidates Justin Engle and Sue Stough accept over $10,000 worth of campaign mailings from Michael G. Musser, II by channeling funds through two Political Action Committees.

While all the other Derry Township Campaign Finance reports were posted online on Saturday, October 26, 2013, a Campaign Finance Report for a Political Action Committee (PAC) entitled “Moving Derry Forward” (MDF) was not posted online until the afternoon of Wednesday afternoon, October 30, 2013, after papers had stopped accepting any further campaign information. Furthermore, the Report was only posted after challenger Steve Todd raised the issue with Dauphin County’s Jerry Feeser.

Derry Township residents received a series of mailings supporting the Engle/Stough campaign that were paid for by a separate Political Action Committee (PAC) “Moving Derry Forward” (MDF). The MDF Campaign Finance Report posted on the Dauphin County campaign finance website

http://www.dauphincounty.org/government/Elections-and-Voter-Registration/Campaign-Finances/CampaignFinances/201310301002-1.pdf

shows that MDF has roughly $10,500 in donations and all of it was spent on the computerized mailings of Engle/Stough campaign brochures.

The above report shows that 100% of the MDF PAC money (roughly $10,500) came from another PAC called “Better Government for PA” (BGP). BGF’s mailing address is Michael G Musser, II’s address in Steelton.

According to two months of BGP PAC campaign finance reports, the money comes from all over — Pittsburg to Florida. Only one of the 33 donations is from Derry Township. All the other donors do not live in Derry Township but want to influence the Township’s election and future decision-making.

Major donors include law firms McNees, Wallace & Nurick and Eckert Seamans and one of Pennsylvania’s most powerful and well-connected lobbying firms Greenlee Associates, including the rather well-known lobbyist Stan Rapp.

Other contributors include the well-paid Derry Township engineer Herbert Rowland & Grubic and the Derry Township Industrial Commercial Development Authority (ICDA) attorney.

Unanswered Questions — Why are Michael G Musser, II and his political cronies spending $10,500 in Derry Township? Why were the Reports posted late? Why didn’t Engle/Stough take the funding directly? Why go through such a convoluted structure? Was someone trying to hide (or bury) the donations until after the election? Why not take Michael G Musser, II’s money directly? Is someone uncomfortable with the source of the donations?

(UPDATE: Nov 3)

Dauphin Young Dems calls Mike Musser’s Better Govt PA “GOP Carpet Baggers” cites this and other local races. Good work, Carl Feldman

http://dauphincydemocrats.blogspot.com/2013/11/gop-carpet-baggers-putting-money-into.html

In the event the Dauphin Young Dems blog – linked above – is removed, here is a screen capture, for your reference into perpetuity:

dauphinyoungdems blog top dauphinyoungdems blog lower

JAN 28, 2015 UPDATE – WORD (FINALLY) GETS AROUND

The Swatara Township Board of Commissioners held a special meeting on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, at 7:00 p.m., at the Municipal Building, 599 Eisenhower Boulevard, Harrisburg, PA to discuss reapportionment of their Board of Commissioners.

Resident Mike Farling, whose LinkedIn page says he was a Detective Sergeant at Swatara Twp Police until 2012, repeatedly referred to and quoted this blog in his testimony. He drew convincing parallels between Mike Musser’s Better Government PA and engineer HRG to his own Board of Commissioners (or at least to their elections) as I’ve drawn to my own, in Derry:

https://steventodd.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/funny-money-in-derry-township/

As an example, he pointed out that he saw four of the five (revised per video) who voted to draft the At-Large ordinance in the HRG skybox at a recent Hershey Bears game, and asked how they liked it. One Commissioner, George Milakovic, replied, “I liked it very much.” The others said nothing.

Here is Mr Farling’s excellent presentation, where he notes that Commissioners Varner, Moyer, Spandler and Milakovich were in the HRG skybox at that week’s Hershey Bears game.

http://www.roxburynews.com/index.php?a=7290

Farling ran against board Chairman Andy Moyer in the 2013 election. On May 16, 2013, he told PennLive he was running because “The township must concentrate on its spending habits…find the best price and bring it to me to consider if this is cost effective.” Moyer explained in that same article that tax increases under his watch were in part because “we (couldn’t) keep up with organized labor costs and benefits.” As as solution, he said “We are working to … encourage new growth with lower demand on services.”

I wonder if Moyer ever suggested biddng out any of the no-bid “professional services” it gives to HRG, its for-profit engineering consultant? I’d bet that obvious solution hasn’t crossed his mind or anyone else’s.

Dauphin Young Dems writer, Carl Feldman – also citing and quoting this blog extensively – calls Mike Musser’s Better Govt PA “GOP Carpet Baggers” in many local races. Musser himself stays out of the spotlight, by and large…but can’t always hide.

Musser can be seen here at the “public” Dauphin County Assessment Appeals Hearing Tuesday June 10, 2014. Incredibly, no one on that Board could tell local journalist and friend Jim Roxbury where and when future “public” meetings would be held, and according to Roxbury “a simple request for today’s agenda was denied.” One particularly arrogant member told Roxbury in a nasty tone “get that off me,” referring to his camera. He informed her he would not, since the event was a public meeting, but if her treatment of taxpaying citizen bothered Musser, he sure didn’t say anything:

http://www.roxburynews.com/index.php?a=6970

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About steventodd

Both parties are broken by big money...what to do? I'm a dad, husband, son, taxpayer, voter, civil engineer, reporter, blogger, rabble-rouser and honest guy.
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2 Responses to Funny Money in Derry Township?

  1. Pingback: Government NEEDS STEM Leadership | Steve Todd – Passionate about things that matter.

  2. Pingback: Swatara Township, Dauphin County, PA – Analysis of a Sea Change | Steve Todd – Passionate about things that matter.

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