What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 29, 2006

Rick Santorum's newest charge

Rick's struggling.

He can't get much traction on anything and so what does he do? He brings up the pay-raise. A payraise, by the way, that passed through a Republican State Legislature. No one seems to recall that. Here's Tom Barnes of the P-G:
Political fallout continues from the Legislature's infamous 2005 pay raises, as U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum criticized Democrat Bob Casey yesterday for signing four months worth of checks containing the pay boosts for legislators.

Mr. Santorum, a two-term Republican seeking re-election to the Senate, assailed state Treasurer Casey, his challenger in the race, for not objecting to the higher checks that legislators received from last August through November.
And then the old old old charge:
"He sent out the checks with the raise for four months and then he claimed the raise was unconstitutional," Mr. Santorum told a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon here yesterday. "Where was he when it counted? Why didn't he say the pay raise was unconstitutional and refuse to sign the checks?"
Good one, Rick. But what does Rick Santorum have to say about the pay raise? Barnes quotes Casey Spokesman Larry Smar:
Mr. Smar said that Mr. Casey had spoken out against the pay raise action as early as September 2005 but said Mr. Santorum "to this day hasn't taken a position on the legislative pay raise. He said it was a state issue and hasn't spoken out against it."
So is that true? Santorum hasn't take a position on the pay-raise and yet is criticizing his opponent for not taking a particular position sooner?

I think we have a new definition of chutzpah.

As Warner Wolf would say, let's go to the videotape. Here's a press release from October, 2005.

Paragraph one:
For months now, State Treasurer Robert P. Casey, Jr. has publicly expressed his opposition to the July 7 legislative pay raise, the manner in which it was passed by the General Assembly, and the use of “unvouchered expenses” as a way to circumvent the State Constitution’s prohibition against legislators' pocketing a pay raise in the middle of their terms. [emphasis added]
Paragraph four:
Treasurer Casey has been named as a defendant in two lawsuits about the pay raise solely because the Treasury Department disburses the Commonwealth’s money, including legislators’ paychecks. Unfortunately, the State Treasurer has no authority to stop these payments. He cannot substitute his judgment for that of the judiciary, nor can he refuse to honor lawful requisitions. [emphasis added]
And the penultimate (yea, it's a word - look it up) paragraph:
Taxpayers can be sure that if the courts rule that the “unvouchered expenses” are, indeed, unconstitutional, the Treasury Department will immediately cease to disburse these monies.
So legally he couldn't stop the paychecks. And unless the courts ruled them to be unconstitional, no one could. Yet we have Ricky there saying Casey should not have signed all those checks.

And there's already been an answer from Casey to Lil Ricky's rhetorical question, "Why didn't he say the pay raise was unconstitutional and refuse to sign the checks?" It's here in this column (from way back on March 17) in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The column begins with this:
I took the unusual step this month of siding with the petitioner in a lawsuit in which I am a defendant. The reason is simple: I agree with the petitioner -- a citizen-activist whose lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the 2005 legislative pay raise, the manner in which it was passed by the General Assembly and the use of "unvouchered expenses" as a way to circumvent the state Constitution's prohibition against legislators pocketing a pay raise in the middle of their terms.

Let me be clear on my opposition to this pay raise. I did not vote for it. I did not lobby for it. I did not support it. But as state treasurer, I could not stop it. [emphasis added]
This follows:
Despite our agreement on the pay-raise issue, Gene Stilp last year named me as a respondent in his lawsuit, Stilp v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al., solely because the Treasury Department disburses the commonwealth's checks, including certain lawmakers' paychecks that Mr. Stilp wanted stopped because they were padded with so-called "unvouchered expense allowances" that reflected the exact amount of the salary increases that were to take effect after the next election.
And the important part:
Some critics have seized on my opposition to this pay raise and my legal brief in support of Mr. Stilp. Their question is: Why did you not simply stop the checks? There is a simple answer: I could not. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that such allowances do not violate the prohibition against midterm salary increases and, therefore, are not unconstitutional. Despite my strong disagreement with these rulings, I could not substitute my judgment for that of the judiciary and directly defy a series of Supreme Court rulings. [emphasis added]
Take a look at that carefully. He said that there's been a series of PA Supreme Court rulings that say that the "unvouchered expense allowances" were not unconstitional. So even though he did not support the pay raise, refusing to sign them was not a legal option.

And if you look carefully, I don't think Casey said they were unconstitutional - certainly not the "unvouchered expenses." Another lie from Rick Santorum.

Rick Santorum - struggling so much he has to scrape around for mud to sling.

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