The censure culture consuming Pennsylvania’s Republican Party sets a paradoxical political standard.
Vote your conscience? Party officials howl with outrage and demand a meeting to consider censuring Sen. Pat Toomey.
Face death threats for doing your job? Party officials still can’t muster a word of support for Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt.
Both Republicans offended former President Donald Trump — Toomey for voting to convict him in an impeachment trial, Schmidt for pushing back on Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.
The GOP once stood for “Grand Old Party.” Now it’s more like “grovel or perish.”
Schmidt on Saturday tweeted at Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader from Kentucky, saying Trump “incited supporters to kill my children and put their ‘heads on spikes’ because we counted votes cast by eligible voters. They named my children and included my home address in the threats. Please consider when voting your conscience.”
McConnell tried to have it both ways, voting to acquit Trump while accusing him of being “morally responsible” for the Jan. 6 insurrection. That was an obvious play to keep Trump fans while trying to calm anxious GOP donors. Of course, it blew up in McConnell’s face.
Schmidt, in a conversation with Clout and an interview on CNN this week, marveled at how Republicans complain about “cancel culture” — when people lose their jobs or face other consequences for offensive actions or comments — but censure anyone who draws Trump’s ire for telling the truth.
“I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying to voters,” he said on CNN.
Schmidt told Clout that state Republican Party chair Lawrence Tabas, a Philadelphia attorney, and local Republican City Committee chair Martina White, a state representative from Northeast Philly, still haven’t said a word to him about the threats he and his family have faced for three months.
“It’s surprising, a little bit,” he said. “But I guess it shouldn’t be.”
Tabas and White did not respond to Clout’s requests for comment.
Schmidt recalled one Republican who stood up for him when Trump went on the attack. It was Toomey.
Toomey won’t seek a third term next year, setting off a stampede of potential candidates eager to embrace or reject Trump’s cult of personality. Schmidt, one of just two Republicans holding citywide office, won’t seek a fourth term in 2023 but isn’t ruling out a future in public life.
Jonathan Saidel as ambassador to Malta? A big union wants Biden to appoint the former Philly controller
Jonathan Saidel has held many titles: four-term Philadelphia city controller, private-practice attorney, and unofficial master of ceremonies at more Democratic City Committee events than Clout can count.
Next up: His excellency, United States ambassador to Malta?
That’s what Lee Saunders, national president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, also known as AFSCME, recommended to President Joe Biden in a Feb. 2 letter.
Saunders, who declined to be interviewed, wrote that Saidel’s career achievements have “shown the leadership skills, the dynamism and the spirit of democratic values that he would bring to the role of ambassador to Malta.”
Saidel didn’t respond to Clout’s requests for comment. We suspect the first rule of Ambassador Club is you don’t talk about Ambassador Club.
Trump in 2018 appointed Christine Toretti, a member of the Republican National Committee from Western Pennsylvania, as ambassador to Malta. But the Senate never confirmed her for the post.
Malta, an island nation of about 450,000 people in the Mediterranean Sea, 60 miles south of Italy, is slightly smaller than Philadelphia in square miles.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Brady said. “Why not. He needs something to do.”
Tony Williams has to raise money for a race he lost 21 months ago
Anyone who has run for public office can tell you raising money is serious work.
Try doing it for an election that ended 21 months ago.
That’s what State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams must now do, according to a settlement this week with the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, which found that his 2019 Democratic primary campaign for mayor took in money that exceeded the limits on donations.
His political action committee must “disgorge” nearly $40,000 in contributions and pay a $12,000 fine, a pair of penalties that total just under $52,000.
One problem: He had just under $16,000 in the bank as of Dec. 31. So Williams now must raise a little more than $36,000 for a race he lost nearly two years ago.
The Board of Ethics, which said Williams and his PAC cooperated with the investigation, gave him until the end of 2021 to pay $15,000, the end of 2022 to pay another $15,000, and the end of 2023 to pay the balance.
Williams said he was frustrated by the process, and that the Board of Ethics issued a news release about it. He’s mulling whether changes for how the board operates are in order.
“The rules are the rules,” he said. “And you can debate that. And that’s what I’m thinking about.”