Was GOP Congressman Ryan Costello the victim of dirty politics this weekend, or the mastermind behind it?
We'll give you the facts — the weird, winding, paranoid facts — and let you decide.
Costello is facing one of the toughest reelection campaigns in the country. President Trump lost his district in 2016. The leader of his own party's congressional campaign arm said that his challenger, Democrat Chrissy Houlahan, is "very strong." Tensions, in other words, are running high.
During the weekend, Costello wrote on Facebook that a "disturbing" political incident had taken place at his house. He claimed that two "associates" of Houlahan had gone onto his property on Saturday, snapped pictures of his home, and intimidated his wife. "Families should always be off limits," he said. "We were able to get some footage of the incident and hope these individuals will be apprehended."
Houlahan wrote on Facebook that "this incident had nothing to do with me" and she was nonetheless "sorry to hear what happened." Costello took this as an admission of guilt: He said he would "accept [Houlahan's] apology" as long as she asked her allies "to stop this type of behavior."
That left Clout with questions. So many questions. What crime was Costello accusing these people of? How did he know they were tied to Houlahan? And was he sure they weren't just the Google Street View guys?
A Costello aide told us that they were clearly Houlahan supporters because of the words they used as well as the fact that they had been driving a rental car. This aide also said that they had trespassed, and that an investigation was underway. But these details seemed … lacking. Perhaps the local police, whom Costello had thanked on Facebook for their "quick response" to the incident, could tell us more.
West Goshen Township Police Capt. Greg Stone didn't mince words: "Just to let you know, there was no crime committed." He said the issue was "closed on our end."
Upon being informed of the West Goshen police's comments, Costello spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said something new: The U.S. Capitol Police "have [an] active investigation." The USCP told us they "do not comment on ongoing investigations," but the West Goshen police report revealed more information on this twist: The local cops talked to the USCP about Costello's complaints, and they were "fine with [West Goshen's] explanation of the situation."
Another clue was tucked into the police report: The people at Costello's house had apparently uttered "something about Planned Parenthood." Sure enough, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund said it canvassed that day in Costello's neighborhood against the effects of Trump's tax bill on health care. Mrs. Costello asked them to leave, and that was the end of that, the group said.
We told Costello that we had solved the mystery, but it only left him more suspicious: "I think that just makes it all the more weird and creepy, to be honest with you."
Is WIP host Glen Macnow running for Congress?
A few minutes after the Eagles defeated the Falcons on Saturday, we got WIP host Glen Macnow on the phone. We wanted to know: Are the rumors true that he's running for Congress?
(OK, OK. We also asked him to make a prediction about this weekend's NFC Championship game. He kindly lied: "The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl.")
Macnow, who identifies himself as a moderate Democrat, told us that he doesn't "like what's being left for my children and my grandchildren in terms of the environment and debt and lack of civility." So, yes, he "gave very serious thought" to challenging Delaware County Republican Pat Meehan.
He even talked with "four current or past members of Congress" and "people who know how to run campaigns." But Macnow ultimately decided against it.
According to a Clout source, a former congressman told Macnow that he spent virtually all his time raising money for campaigns. Asked if that's what dissuaded him, Macnow responded carefully: "Here's how I'll put that. I would have liked to serve in Congress and serve the public. I think I would not have enjoyed — at all — the prospect of asking everybody I know as well as complete strangers to give me a lot of money."
But the "biggest factor," he said, is that he didn't want to quit his day job. "I am really looking forward to hosting the Eagles' pre-game Sunday show for the NFC Championship game at the Linc. Frostbite be damned."
Stack endorses redistricting map that would screw his political enemy — and maybe black voters, too
Philly Democrats are like Regina George's crew in Mean Girls: A lot of them not so secretly despise each other.
Take Lt. Gov. Mike Stack and the Boyle brothers. Their feud got so bad in 2015 it helped clear the path for a Republican to win a state House seat that had been held by Rep. Brendan Boyle. That same year, Brendan's brother, State Rep. Kevin Boyle, accused Stack's wife of throwing soda on him. At a church parish hall!
So we couldn't help but notice that Stack last week endorsed a new congressional redistricting map with some rather interesting borders. The map would cut Brendan Boyle out of his current district — and pit him against Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick.
It would also change the makeup of the Second District, which is represented by Dwight Evans, the only black congressman in Pennsylvania. The district is now mostly comprised of minority voters; not so on Stack's map. "In playing politics, he's screwing African Americans out of the voice they have in Congress," said one insider.
Cliff Levine, an attorney for Stack, said the map is "nonpartisan" and "lets the voice of the people to be heard in the important 2018 election." He also denied that there was any "intention to target any specific members." After all, he said, it was created by a political scientist at the University of Michigan.
OK. But did you really have to pick the expert's map that hosed your rival, then hold a big news conference about it and call it the "Stack map"?