One of President Trump's biggest boosters in Pennsylvania on Saturday seized on a popular right-wing conspiracy theory to explain why the new administration is faltering.
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, a Butler County Republican and potential candidate for governor next year, told the Mercer County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day dinner that former President Barack Obama isn't sticking around in Washington just so his younger daughter can finish high school there.
"I think we ought to pitch in to let him go someplace else, because he is there for one purpose and for one purpose only," Kelly warned. "And that is to run a shadow government that is going to totally upset the new agenda. It just doesn't make sense. And people sit back and say, my gosh, why can't you guys get this done?"
There is already stiff I'm-with-Trump competition in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary election:
State Sen. Scott Wagner, the trash mogul from York County who has already declared his candidacy for governor, talks a strong Trump game. And Western Pennsylvania businessman Paul Mango is already working with the political advisers who helped Trump win the state last year.
We know Kelly pitched this particular conspiracy theory because someone pointed us to a 37-second YouTube clip. The same theory has been promulgated in the last month by right-leaning media like the New York Post, the Fox Business channel, and Rush Limbaugh. Guess who pops up from time to time on Fox Business? Why, it's Mike Kelly.
We can't say if Kelly made note in his speech of the serious resistance by congressional Republicans to Trump's agenda. Kelly apparently was too busy to answer Clout's questions. Sad!
Instead, his office issued this: "Rep. Kelly delivered his remarks at a private meeting to an audience of fellow Republicans. He was sharing the frustration of everyone in the room over how they believe certain Obama administration holdovers within the federal bureaucracy are attempting to upset President Trump's agenda."
Kelly's staff said he "fully supports" Obama's staying in town while his daughter finishes high school.
Message received. In other words, that conspiracy theory was only for loyal Republicans, not for general consumption.
Seccio: (Probably) not plotting mob hit
Last week, Clout checked in with Ruthann Seccio, the 48-year-old ex-mistress of 81-year-old former Philly mob boss Ralph Natale. She was a little, uh, upset, that Natale had glossed over their affair in his new book, Last Don Standing: The Secret Life of Mob Boss Ralph Natale.
"I'm coming at you, Ralph, with an 8-pack of TNT," Seccio said, which, BTW, prompted Philly Mag reporter Dan McQuade to ponder on Twitter whether dynamite really comes in 8-packs. "Maybe she confused TNT with hot dog rolls," McQuade tweeted.
Anyway, we hear that law enforcement paid a little visit to Seccio's South Philly home on Monday to make sure that she wasn't actively planning to kill Natale — either with dynamite or one of her laser-sighted guns.
"They're knocking on the door. I thought they were gangsters," Seccio said of the two law-enforcement officials. "I'm in my pajamas here. I'm like, 'What the hell is this?' I crack the door and get a badge in my face."
Seccio said she believed the guy in the suit was an FBI agent but she wasn't sure about the guy in plain clothes. They were there for about 20 minutes, she said.
"They wouldn't go away. They really thought I was gonna grab a duffel bag full of guns and get in a car" and take Natale out, Seccio said. When they advised that her comments could make it difficult for her to renew her gun permit, she responded: "Don't youse know this is how they sell newspapers?"
Way to throw us under the bus, Ruthann.
FBI spokeswoman Carrie "Buzzkill" Adamowski said she couldn't/wouldn't comment on the Seccio matter because the FBI doesn't/won't confirm, deny, or even discuss FBI interviews. What fun is that?
So, we don't know what exactly is going on. But, rest assured, Clout will continue to monitor this potentially explosive Seccio situation. From very far away.
Nice to know the feds read this column, though.
DA debate back on
The Chestnut Hill Local/WHYY debate in the extremely crowded race for Philadelphia district attorney is back on and will be held March 23 at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. The debate was originally scheduled for last month, but the organizers canceled it when District Attorney Seth Williams refused to attend.
But then Williams announced that he's not running for re-election. Sometimes things just work out in the end.
All seven Democratic candidates and the lone Republican candidate are expected to attend the debate. We're not going to list all their names here because, as usual, we're out of space.
Staff writers Chris Brennan, William Bender, Jeremy Roebuck and David Gambacorta contributed to this column.