Saylor Retention Financed By Controversial Law Firm, Gaming Interests?
By Louis R. Petolicchio
Posted November 1, 2007
For political junkies, reviewing the online financial reports is kind of like a treasure hunt, because you just cannot be sure of what kind of nugget of information will be discovered simply by digging into a candidate's or PAC's financial records. The "who's who" of campaign financing can be very time consuming but once a questionable 'money trail' is uncovered, it's very enlightening to watch how the cockroaches run for cover. Such a scenario happened in the spring of 2006 when it was discovered that the chief aide for ex-State Senator Bob Jubelirer had been managing a PAC financed by contributions from a slots applicant and then diverted those funds to the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, who went on to endorse Jubelirer for re-election.
With the controversy surrounding the current spat of judicial retention's (the discourteous comments of G. Terry Madonna about PACleanSweep's effort to boot the majority of judges immediately comes to mind), the question of financing has again surfaced, this time with regards to Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Tom Saylor, who is currently seeking retention to the state's highest court.
Saylor has been actively campaigning for retention, something virtually unheard of two years ago, and has even recruited ex-Governor Tom Ridge to make his case to the people of
But what's more disturbing is how Saylor is financing his retention campaign, and that is where things really get interesting. For while it is no secret that Saylor has been heavily financed by trial lawyers from across the state (such as the Committee For A Better Tomorrow), what is not being discussed are the contributions he has received from a Pittsburgh area law firm that was embroiled in the illegal immigration controversy as well as firms that appear to have an interest in the expansion of gambling in Pennsylvania:
- $5000 from Cohen & Grigsby - in May 2007, this law firm ran the now-infamous "How Not To Hire An American" seminar in which comments were made by associates of Cohen & Grigsby on how to avoid the employment of American workers; the law firm was criticized by members of Congress and received nationwide coverage, including Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck; at the time the law firm defended it's seminar but "regretted" the terms that were used; a Google search has not found any evidence of further apology
- $15,000 from Eckert Seamans - this firm was a registered gambling lobbyist for MEC Pennsylvania Racing between 2003 and 2006, and has had at least one attorney acting on behalf of gaming interests; individual attorneys from this firm also contributed to Saylor's retention campaign
- $10,000 from Cozen O'Connor - associate of this firm represented gaming interests before the PA Gaming Control Board; company profile includes representation of gaming interests
- $5000 from Duane Morris Government Affairs - this lobbying firm also gave $10,000 to the Pennsylvania Future Fund, which has contributed heavily to Saylor's retention campaign; associate Ken Davis was a registered gaming lobbyist for Berman DeValerio Pease Tabacco Burt & Pucillo, Champion Coin, Oberthur Gaming Technologies, and Penn National between 2003 and 2005
- $5000 from Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel - associates of this firm represented Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment before the PA Gaming Control Board
- $2500 from Democracy Fund - this is a PAC financed almost exclusively by associates of Stevens & Lee; associates of S&L have represented Presque Isle Downs before the PA Gaming Control Board and S&L attorneys worked to defeat the first court challenge to issuance of a slot license; an associate was a registered gambling lobbyist for Park Place/Caesars Entertainments in 2003 and 2005; utilizes what appears to be the personal address of an S&L lobbyist
- $2500 from Responsible Citizens for Economic Progress - this is a PAC financed almost exclusively by associates of Stevens & Lee; associates of S&L have represented Presque Isle Downs before the PA Gaming Control Board and S&L attorneys worked to defeat the first court challenge to issuance of a slot license; an associate was a registered gambling lobbyist for Park Place/Caesars Entertainments in 2003 and 2005; utilizes what appears to be the personal address of an S&L lobbyist
- $62,000 from the Pennsylvania Future Fund - this PAC acts a clearinghouse for various contributors; in 2006 the PFF contributed $25,000 to Jubelirer and $35,000 to Brightbill; in 2007 a number of its donors had an interest of one kind or another in the gaming industry:
- $16,000 from Buchanan Ingersoll, registered gambling lobbyist for Penn National and WMS Games in 2003 and 2004, and Barden Nevada Gaming and Pinnacle Entertainment in 2006; individual attorneys from this firm also contributed to Saylor's retention campaign
- $12,000 from PA Better Government PAC, which is funded by Klett Lieber Rooney & Schorling (which merged with Buchanan Ingersoll); KLRS was a registered gambling lobbyist for Balyasny Asset Management, JCM American Corporation, Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino, and Western Pennsylvania Racing Associates between 2003 and 2006
- $10,000 from Duane Morris (see above)
- $5000 from Pennoni Associates, who hired Joseph Mullen to provide engineering services for Pocono Manor Casino in 2006
- $5000 from the Ninth Decade Fund, a PAC funded by Wolf Block Schorr Solis-Cohen, who have represented various gaming interests before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
- $1000 from CHH Partners, a PAC solely funded by Lois Hagerty and Richard Hayden, who were registered gambling lobbyists for Aztar Corporation, Centaur Inc., and Valley View Downs
This listing of contributors is by no means exhaustive as numerous individuals with affiliations with gaming interests made contributions to Saylor Retention 07. Unfortunately, the magnitude of the contributions and the numerous donors raise some nettlesome questions.
To begin with, how does Saylor explain the contribution he received from Cohen & Grigsby? Are we to presume that he shares their legalistic mindset that it's okay to skirt established laws in order to avoid employing American workers? Indeed, how can legal American and state citizens be confident that Saylor won't work to strike down state laws that may be established in the future to protect the jobs of
Second, how does Saylor explain the tens of thousands of dollars he has received from organizations with an interest in the gaming industry in
At this point there is no need to delve into Saylor's judicial temperament or whether his past decisions make him worthy of another ten years on the bench. What is really needed is an explanation from Saylor on the issue of trust and money. Can a Supreme Court justice act in a fair and discerning manner if he is willing to accept financial contributions from firms who have demonstrated what appears to be a blatantly anti-American bias? Can a Supreme Court justice act impartially if so many special interests are tugging at his robes with their campaign cash?
Justice is meant to blind in
Or would Saylor have us believe that candidates for judge (and retention) are above political antics?
Sorry, but I don't think that dog is gonna hunt...