Brian Sims Accuses Rep. Mark Cohen of “Arguing with Plants” [Updated]

Well that’s a new line of attack.

Update: Mark Cohen has responded himself, in the comments below. Read the lengthy rebuttal yourself, but here’s a flavor.

One of the things I have come to accept is that people (with minor limitations) have basically a constitutional right to lie about elected officials. The simple facts are that, in this session of the House, I have a nearly 100% attendance record on the House floor and in the State Government Committee, that I have sponsored more bills and resolutions than any other House member, that I pushed through the House with its Republican majority the broadest Buy American government purchasing legislation in Pennsylvania history, and that I played a key role in the passage of the largest transportation funding bill in decades, which gave SEPTA over $300,000,000.

Original:

Rep. Brian Sims has angered fellow Dems in Harrisburg by backing Jared Solomon, who is challenging longtime Northeast Philly state representative Mark Cohen. (Here’s one challenger he’s not crazy about.) In a Facebook comment underneath his announcement that he was hosting a fundraiser for Solomon, he essentially accused Cohen of having dementia.

I don’t hate Mark Cohen but his behavior in the Capitol has been one of the most shocking surprises of my time there. Virtually every single person in the Capital has a story about Mark being lost in a bathroom or arguing with the plants or with the pictures on the wall. Much more importantly, he’s simply not showing up to the one committee he serves on and chairs, across from Daryl Metcalfe!

One could see how this might backfire… The full post is below:

I don’t hate Mark Cohen but his behavior in the Capitol has been one of the most shocking surprises of my time there. Virtually every single person in the Capital has a story about Mark being lost in a bathroom or arguing with the plants or with the pictures on the wall. Much more importantly, he’s simply not showing up to the one committee he serves on and chairs, across from Daryl Metcalfe! I can’t tell you how many State Government Committee meetings start with the executive director frantically running over to one of the freshman democrats who serves on the committee to say that no one can find Mark, people are looking for him throughout the building and someone has to stand in for him until he eventually stumbles into the room half way through the meeting and tries in vain to backtrack through a schedule that 24 other legislators have already worked through and showed up for. On several occasions the issues that he missed were major. On most occasions, he leaves everyone including his own staff scrambling to cover for him. The stories of him being absent minded and lost are famous in Harrisburg and while that might have been funny or cute in years past, given the gravity of the issues we’re working on, given that Metcalfe is the other Chair, and given that Mark is billing all of us for an extra 100 days a year in the Capitol and not even showing up or showing up on time to his one and only committee, it’s beyond unacceptable. I have no ill will towards the man but in just 14 months of serving alongside him, I’ve come to the same conclusion that all of our colleagues who avoid working with him, and all of the colleagues who attack us because of his behavior have come to, he does not appear to have the faculties to do this job anymore. It’s sad, it’s disappointing, and it’s the truth. I don’t hate him. What I hate is someone who isn’t doing their job, is costing us support and strength at a time when it’s desperately needed, and is billing all of us for more than any other legislator in Pa history. I have 91 colleagues on the Democratic side. Some I like and agree with, others I don’t. Mark is entirely different. He’s no longer doing a job, good or bad, that he’s been paid more than anyone else in state history to do and rather than simply allow a new person to give it a shot, something every other legislator that has served as long as he has ultimately has done, he trying to go back to do more of the same. It’s not fair to his district and it’s not fair to all of us who are working, who are showing up, and who are trying to make a difference.

H/T Philly Clout


  • Mark B. Cohen

    One of the things I have come to accept is that people (with minor limitations) have basically a constitutional right to lie about elected officials. The simple facts are that, in this session of the House, I have a nearly 100% attendance record on the House floor and in the State Government Committee, that I have sponsored more bills and resolutions than any other House member, that I pushed through the House with its Republican majority the broadest Buy American government purchasing legislation in Pennsylvania history, and that I played a key role in the passage of the largest transportation funding bill in decades, which gave SEPTA over $300,000,000.
    I am have been working for equality of GLBT population throughout my tenure in the House. I was one of only a few Democrats to be endorsed by the long-defunct Walt Whitman Democratic Club, and was one of 13 Democrats to vote against a 1979 resolution introduced by Democratic Leader James J. Manderino censuring Secretary of the Commonwealth Ethel Allen for issuing a Gay Pride proclamation. Every single elected leader in the House, Democratic and Republican alike voted for that resolution. But later, with generational change, I was one of three of the 13 no votes to win election as a House Democratic leader; I served a record 21 years as a House Democratic leader.
    I began introducing civil unions legislation in 2009, and co-sponsored Representative Joseph’s marriage equality bill in 2011. Mr. Sims long publicly held the belief that nothing should done on moving towards marriage equality until such time as an anti-discrimination bill was signed into law. As one who helped push Philadelphia’s path-breaking antidiscrimination ordinance into effect in 1982, I recognized the difficulty of waiting that long. The anti-discrimination ordinance in Philadelphia was INTRODUCED with the support of a majority of City Council; that milestone has still not been achieved in either house of the Pennsylvania legislature after decades of trying.
    The widespread support (although nowhere near a majority of the House) received my civil unions legislation without any active push from any organization helped convince Representative Dan Frankel and EqualityPA that the base existed within the legislature to form an LGBT Equality Caucus. The caucus was formed in the last legislative session, and Babette Josephs was a co-chairman of it.
    I succeeded Babette Josephs as Democratic Minority Chairman of the House State Government Committee, and kept three of her staff members. I would suggest that it is my deep connection with the outstanding legislator who he defeated with a flood of money from outside Pennsylvania that has motivated Mr. Sims’ deep personal hatred of me.
    Both Mr. Sims and I face primary challenges this year. I am confident that I will win my race. If Mr. Sims is victorious over former Rep. Babette Josephs, I would hope that we can work together more constructively than in this session. Not that I have not tried: I persuaded Rep. Daryl Metcalfe to withdraw his resolution of censure against Mr. Sims after Mr. Sims told me he was withdrawing his resolution of censure against Mr. Metcalfe. Mr. Sims thanked me for doing so, but., after he decided to back my primary opponent, told me that I was wrong to intervene; he would have preferred to have dared the House to censure him. Presumably he wished reap the publicity such a confrontation. I believe that members of the House are elected to work with each other to the greatest degree possible, and posture against each other.

    • Stein

      Was this directed at the wall hangings or the potted plants?

      • nzakhar

        Is it a plant talking?

  • Mark B. Cohen

    My comment was made on the assumption that there are reality-oriented people of fairness and decency who read Keystone Politics. Mr. Sims’ fundamental antipathy towards me is based on my friendship with, and admiration for, Babette Josephs. Those who wish to join Mr. Sims’ Spiro Agnew-like political hatchet job against me will inevitably be tarred by it, as will Mr. Sims.

  • Jordan Gwendolyn Davis

    And what galls me is that Brian still not only has that comment up, but even reiterated it in another post. Brian should apologize to Mark for his ageism post-haste.

  • Mark Zecca

    The personal statements made by Sims about Cohen are obviously false. Anyone dealing with Cohen knows that he is extremely intelligent, educated, experienced and accomplished. Sims is falsely saying that Cohen has lost touch with physical reality. That type of lie offends common decency and has no place in our politics. If Sims does not like Cohen’s long progressive record of accomplishment or thinks that he is no longer effective, in spite of Cohen’s continuing legislative accomplishments and seniority and leadership role in the Democratic Caucus, then Sims can comment on that. But Sims’s comments about talking with plants and pictures pollute our discourse. To make such false comments about a leader of the House Democrats, a fellow Philadelphian, one of our representatives with the most seniority, and a fellow progressive, is hurtful to our City. Sims’s hateful personal attack on Cohen says much about Sims – nothing about Cohen.