Did money play a role in stopping the bill aimed at banning live pigeon shoots and making it illegal to eat cats and dogs in Pennsylvania?
Three days before a critical vote was to be taken that would have sent the bill (HB1750) to the state House floor, a pigeon shooting lobbying group dropped $20,000 on key committee members. campaign finance records show.
The Pennsylvania Flyers Victory Fund typically doles out far less, with donations in the hundreds of dollars to key committee chairman like Rep. Ron Marsico (R., Dauphin) chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who has kept the bill holed up in committee for years.
This time, on Monday Oct. 20, animal welfare advocates awaited what they said was a promised vote by House Majority Leaders Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny).
But instead,Turzai - under heavy pressure from the National Rifle Association - did not bring up the bill for a vote and it died on the last day of the legislative session. (My story on the background of the bill battle here.)
Campaign finance records show that 17 members of the powerful Rules Commitee were given $1,000 checks from the Flyers Fund on Oct. 17. The recipients included Rep. Bill Adolph and Rep. Tom Killion of Delaware County, Rep. Bob Godshall of Montgomery County,and Rep. Kathy Watson of Bucks County.
Turzai got $3,000.
"I'm astounded that anyone would go this far to abuse animals in Pennsylvania," said Heidi Prescott, the Pennsylvania lobbyist for the Humane Society of the United States which fought for the bill. "It can't be a coincidence that the entire Rules Committee received $20,000 three days before the non-vote."
Turzai's spokesman, Steve Miskin, did immediately respond to a request for comment and an email to the Flyers Fund was not immediately returned.
Humane PA, the polticial action committee that supports animal welfare legislation, gave $3,600 in donations to a smattering of House and Senate members in September and October, records show.