Thursday, October 25, 2012

Barletta staffer may have broke the law

Shawn Kelly was candidate Lou Barletta's spokesperson in the 2010 election campaign and was given a staff job as Congressman Lou Barletta's spox on official business after the election.

I like Shawn and he has always been great about answering my questions in the election in 2010 and since then. I asked him a political question a few months ago and he referred me to the campaign for an answer. He explained that he is now a pointy headed bureaucrat that couldn't comment on the reelection effort.

So I was shocked when I read this

DANVILLE - The absence of Congressman Lou Barletta at a campaign event Tuesday night rankled his election opponent, Gene Stilp, and lead to unanticipated debate over the event's format.
The candidates for the 11th Congressional District were expected to debate each other at the American Legion during a Candidates Night hosted by the Danville Area League of Voters.
Instead, it was Stilp and a congressional aide trading barbs.

Stilp attacked Barletta for skipping the event, while Shawn Kelly, Barletta's communications director, said the congressman was simply keeping a prior commitment....
Kelly took a long pause and followed with an explanation that, as a employee of his congressional office and not his campaign, he did not know what event Barletta was attending Tuesday.
He did, however, say that "He committed to an event over two months ago and he's keeping that commitment.

KP is all over it:

 There’s just one problem: staffer, Shawn Kelly, doesn’t work for Congressman Barletta’s campaign, but is actually his Legislative Communications Director, who draws a taxpayer salary.

 If Kelly in any way charged the taxpayers by using resources issued to him by the United States Congress, that is really bad news for Barletta–especially considering the fact that Gene Stilp is responsible for bringing down this type of behavior in Harrisburg.

KP points to this part of Ethics Committee rules:

 It is permissible for House employees to do campaign work, but only outside of congressional space, without the use of any House resources, and on their own time (as opposed to “official” time for which they are compensated by the House).  Accordingly, any House employee who does campaign work must ensure that the work – including any telephone conversations or other communications concerning campaign business – is performed strictly in compliance with these limitations.

Edit: Executive branch personnel are subject to restrictions on partisan political activity by the Hatch Act (5 U.S.C. § 7321 et seq.), but those restrictions do not apply to congressional employees

Thanks Yuri and McG

  It’s still completely unethical.  He doesn’t know where Barletta is, because he’s not part of the campaign, but he’s debating at a campaign event. Total BS.

Update: You know I try to be Fair and Balanced. Barletta's campaign manager Lance Stange responds 

Thank you for correcting some of Mr. Stilp’s bogus claims.  Since they were corrected, I won’t go into them but I would like to ask that you correct another:
The event in question was not a debate.  We have agreed to the same number of debates as President Obama and Governor Romney.  This has been widely reported throughout the district.  One was at Wilkes University under the sponsorship of the Times Leader; another was in Dauphin County under the sponsorship of WHP580 News Radio which covers Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry counties; the third will be on WVIA  in a week to cover the six northern counties – Carbon, Columbia, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland, and Wyoming Counties.
If Mr. Stilp received the same letter we did inviting us to participate, he is also aware that it was not a debate.  The League doesn’t even describe it as a debate and, as a matter of fact, they clearly identified the event as the “Danville Area League of Voters Candidates Night” in the invitation letter.
About two months ago, Congressman Barletta agreed to participate in the Dauphin/Cumberland Fall Dinner.  Invitations that were sent out and the event was publicized shortly after that.  Less than two weeks ago, the campaign received a formal invitation to participate in the Danville Area League of Voters Candidates Night.  At that time, we indicated that we had a scheduling conflict.  The League understood but didn’t want to reschedule the event.  Instead, the League suggested that we send a surrogate so that’s what we did.
Mr. Stilp’s attack on the League suggesting they changed the rules at the last minute is also untrue.  The League determined the rules and notified us of them, in writing, on October 15.
Instead of making false charges and impugning the character of the League, Mr. Stilp should be explaining his plan for “the long run” to “get this country out of its fiscal dilemma” – something he said he would do over six months ago.



McGruff said...

Bogus story. First off, how a news reporter describes a person has no bearing on whether the person committed a violation. He clarified at the LWV session that his presence at the candidate night was not official, was voluntary, and was not taxpayer-funded. You should read this document to fully understand the misperception of this post.

Once House employees have completed their official duties, they are free to engage in campaign activities on their own time, as volunteers or for pay, as long as they do not do so in congressional offices or facilities, or otherwise use official resources. Executive branch personnel are subject to restrictions on partisan political activity by the Hatch Act (5 U.S.C. § 7321 et seq.), but those restrictions do not apply to congressional employees

McGruff said...

BTW Stilp, as a candidate, should know the law since he is a lawyer. But then again he only knows how to throw snowballs.

Anonymous said...

I find it appalling that a sitting congressman would attend a political fundraiser than a debate to let people know where he is on issues.
As far as throwing snowballs, barletta did that 3x against the last congressman.
He is an embarassment. Along with his side kick that rides a camel.

Anonymous said...

Agree with McGruff and you Gort have really slipped on accuracy over the years. This was a no brainer, no story and really has no place on a blog about politics.

Anonymous said...

p.s. Stilp hasn't a clue. He is Steve Corbett lite; loud for the sake of volume.

Gort said...

I fix my mistakes. Lou ducks a debate but sends an official staffer while he's at a county party fundraiser. That's the story and belongs on a blog about politics.

Anonymous said...

So your boss tells you' GO to this debate. Doesnt have to tell you twice. Strong arm Lou

McGruff said...

Lou didn't duck a debate to attend a county party fundraiser. Lou committed to the Annual Dauphin/Cumberland County GOP dinner fully two months before the LWV faxed him an invitation October 15th. He had the opportunity to address about 500 consituents(yes just because they are Repulican doesn't mean they aren't still constinuents) at the DCC dinner. There was maybe 10 at the LWV event. It may have been a fundraiser for the DCC GOP but not for Barletta. This is called the spin zone. He reneges on the dinner he catches it for not being a man of his word. He doesn't show up for candidate night he catches it for ignoring the LWV. Kelly knows the rules and he abided by the rules. Stilp doesn't know the rules and proved he isn't ready for the job. In the end the premise of this post was that Kelly did something not Barletta's issue therefore I stand by my opinion, bogus.

Anonymous said...

McGruff stop trying to confuse the issue with facts. Sheesh..

Anonymous said...

Yes because Lou never lies.

Anonymous said...

Lies are irrelevant. This demonstrates stupidity.

Big Dan said...

It was a DEBATE to everyone...except GOP "wordsmiths". Sitting side by side with someone DEBATING is...ummm...a DEBATE. Nice try, GOP "wordsmiths".

Question: did the Barletta camp notify everyone days ahead of time that he wouldn't be there? If not, WHY not?

Anonymous said...

No matter what it was or what happened sadly Lou is going to win again, so all this crying is for nothing.