New details are emerging both about Rep. Tom Caltagirone's deal with John Perzel and about other lawmakers deciding not to support their nominee for Speaker.
Let's remember why this mess has happened: both Parties put forth Leaders tainted by the corruption of the pay raise scandal and past abuses. The Parties ignored the ringing and decisive message of the voters this year by ignoring calls for significant reforms. We harshly criticized the nominations of these old pols for these slots on this basis and these others are also upset.
Choosing Perzel as a reformer over DeWeese though is crazy. As Speaker for twelve years John Perzel was the problem. If Tom Caltagirone thinks he's had an epiphany I suggest he read the many articles on this very blog about Perzel. If Tom thinks Perzel is going to live up to his end of the deal he's a fool. Perzel is no reformer and never will be, just like Caltagirone. Look at the way Caltagirone runs the Berks County Democratic Committee and you'll see he's no reformer.
Meanwhile here's the deal Perzel and Caltagirone reportedly have made: Committees will be divided between R's and D's, alternating the naming of Chairs. Perzel remains Speaker though and completely controls what bills get to the floor for votes. Both Appropriations and Judicial remain in GOP hands. Perzel also agreed to adjourn daily by 10 pm unless otherwise voted upon.
DeWeese has already agreed to an 11 pm curfew but both are useless because they can undone by simple votes. They are toothless. Bi-partisan Chairs may be a good idea but real reform must come with serious lobbying and campaign finance reform. Until Caltagirone agrees that no legislator can accept anything of value from a lobbyist and puts limits on campaign contributions, tightens reporting requirements, and adds serious consequences for failure to file full and accurate reports he's a pretender.
He contributed over $12,000 this year to a colleague's re-election effort and another $4,000 to the County Committee to use for other local campaigns. Not everyone received a penny of that money. Going through campaign finance reports since election day I saw some of it wasn't even reported. The $12,500 to another candidate was bundled with other funds, given to the House Democratic Committee and then returned to the District campaign in in-kind contributions. He funneled the money through the Committees so people wouldn't realize it actually came from him. It wasn't very hard to follow the money trail but try doing so on a statewide basis, especially when some of it was spent for in-kind contributions that weren't reported.
Caltagirone is no reformer. This is a naked power play against Bill DeWeese. A real reformer would be proposing bills disallowing some of the very abuses he engages in. A real reformer would outlaw all lobbying contributions and propose the public financing of all elections.
Meanwhile GrassrootsPA is reporting through CapitolWire that a number of other Representatives are also withholding their votes for Speaker. These are both Dems and Repubs so the election Tuesday could be chaotic. Joe Petrarca, Rosita Youngblood and Tom Tancretti, all Dems, are reportedly also withholding support for DeWeese. Republicans not voting for Perzel include Rosemarie Swanger and Scott Perry. Meanwhile Curt Schroder may also run for Speaker as a Republican.
Tuesday is bound to be a free for all, wide open battle for power regardless. No one knows who will emerge and power plays are going on everywhere.
Update: I have posted an analysis of Caltagirone's campaign finance reports at Berks Democrats. Who he got his money from and who he gave it to. His son John actually gave Bill DeWeese $250.
Update II: VoicePA has an excellent analysis of Tom Caltagirone's alliance with Perzel on the Sovereign Bank legislation.