WATCH: Rob McCord Will Plead Guilty to Certain Federal Charges

Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord is planning to plead guilty to federal charges related to an incident that took place when he ran for governor last year.

Robert Welsh, McCord’s lawyer, said in a statement that the charges have not been filed yet, but they will involve “his attempts in the spring of 2014 to raise campaign contributions from two potential contributors.” Welsh says McCord “[communicated] that if they failed to make campaign contributions, he could make it difficult for them to do business with the Commonwealth.”

McCord also issued a video statement (above) Friday in which he apologizes to the residents of Pennsylvania.

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Reports: McCord Faces Federal Investigation

Photo | Matt Slocum, AP

Photo | Matt Slocum, AP

[Update: 7 a.m., January 30th] Details continue to drip out about the reported investigation that may have prompted the abrupt resignation of State Treasurer Rob McCord. The Morning Call reports that the investigation into McCord is being run by the FBI’s Harrisburg office and, according to their source, “it’s been [going on] a while.”

[Update: 5:45 p.m.] Gary Tuma, Rob McCord’s spokesman, says, “This is not a matter on which the Treasury Department can comment. Treasury routinely receives investigatory subpoenas or requests for documents from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. It has been the department’s policy to cooperate with and fully respond to all law enforcement inquiries, and to honor the confidentiality of any such inquiry. We defer to the law enforcement authorities on whether to comment on, or even confirm, any such inquiry.”

[Update: 3:45 p.m.] 6ABC reports that McCord is facing a federal investigation:

Action News confirms that Pennsylvania State Treasurer Rob McCord, who announced Thursday he is stepping down from the job, is currently under federal investigation.

Sources tell Action News that the wide-spread probe is examining the alleged theft of campaign and other funds.

A call to Governor Wolf’s office for comment was not immediately returned.

[Original] Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord will resign, he announced today. He sent Gov. Tom Wolf a resignation letter saying he will return to the private sector; his last day will be February 12th.

Chief counsel Christopher Craig will handle the state treasurer’s duties until a replacement is found. McCord’s resignation means the governor gets to appoint a new state treasurer, who then must be approved by a majority of the State Senate.

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Tom Wolf Will Post His Work Calendar Online

Photo Credit: AP Photo | Jacqueline Larma

Photo Credit: AP Photo | Jacqueline Larma

Gov. Wolf’s schedule of private meetings with lobbyists, elected officials and others may soon be available for anyone with access to the Internet to see.

Wolf  announced Wednesday that he is going to start posting his full work calendar online starting next week. (Each week, he will release the previous week’s calendar.) He will also post his public appearances online a day in advance.

This is a potentially huge deal.

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Kane to Defend Wolf in Open Records Case

Kathleen Kane may be in a fight for her political life, but there’s still business to be done.

Her office said Tuesday it will defend new Gov. Tom Wolf from a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Senate Republicans after Wolf fired Erik Arneson, the state’s new open records chief who was given a last-second appointment by then-Gov. Tom Corbett as he left office.

“Our office is representing the Governor’s Office,” Kane spokesman Aaron Sadler told PennLive.

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Report: Pa. Gas Taxes Highest in the Nation

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

The good news? Gas is pretty cheap these days — as low as $2.02 a gallon in the Philadelphia area, according to one website.

The not-quite-as-thrilling news? The gas isn’t quite as cheap as it could be: Pennsylvania now has the highest gas taxes in the country.

“Pennsylvania has passed New York and California by earning the dubious distinction of having the highest gasoline taxes in the nation, ” Greg Laskoski writes at GasBuddy.com. “Combined with the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, Pennsylvania’s state tax of 50.5 cpg. brings the combined tax to 68.9 cents per gallon.  Californians pay 63.7 cents per gal., New Yorkers pay 63.4 cents per gal., according to the American Petroleum Institute.”

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Church and State: Pennsylvania House Resolution Honors God

A resolution introduced yesterday by State Rep. John Lawrence, who represents the 13th legislative district, honors the Lord.

Okay, it’s not a resolution praising God for creating life and/or not flooding the world again. But it is a one that directly praises the Lord for His work though the Lighthouse Youth Center in Oxford, Chester County. Lighthouse was founded after community members in Oxford met in 1986 and decided the area needed a youth center. It officially opened on Super Bowl Sunday in 1988 (XXII, Washington beat Denver 42-10). It is “a para-church organization that reaches youth with the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ” and serves 9- to 18-year-olds.

btCheck-1The “noncontroversial resolution” was introduced yesterday, one of scores honoring community groups, sports teams and the like that get passed in the House every session. But the language of this resolution is especially interesting (and, well, cute and funny) because it also directly honors God:

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Medical Marijuana Back in Play in Pennsylvania?

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Shutterstock.com

State Sens. Daylin Leach and Mike Folmer are try, trying again.

The bipartisan duo — Leach is a Democrat, Folmer a Republican — have reintroduced a bill (below) that would legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. A similar bill passed the State Senate last year, but stalled when sent to the House.

“This bill needs to get done,” Folmer said in a statement. “There are so many ill and suffering in Pennsylvania that could benefit from medical cannabis – reducing prescriptions of narcotic cocktails of highly addictive and dangerous drugs. Medical cannabis is a much safer and more effective solution.”

“Medical cannabis is a safe and effective alternative to the powerful, addictive, and often ineffective narcotics that doctors already prescribe to cancer patients, children with seizure disorders, veterans suffering from PTSD, and others Pennsylvanians who suffer from terminal health problems,” Leach said in a separate statement emailed to reporters. “It is cruel to continue denying these people the medicine they need.”
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In Pa. House, a Fresh Push for Liquor Privatization

liquorshelves-940x540

A fresh push to privatize the state’s liquor store system is brewing in the Pennsylvania House, NewsWorks reports.

Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed told NewsWorks that his chamber may revive a privatization bill that passed the House and failed the Senate two years ago.  The Senate’s Republican majority has gotten larger and more conservative since then.

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Study: In Pennsylvania, Very Rich Getting Richer, Everybody Else Getting Poorer

Updated with comment from the governor’s office.

In Pennsylvania, it really is true that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

Actually, strike that: The very rich are getting richer — and everybody else is is getting poorer.

A new study shows that the average income of the state’s families grew between 2009 and 2013, but only because the top 1 percent earned so much more than the other 99 percent of Pennsylvania residents: Everybody else — the bottom 99 percent of Pennsylvania families — saw their collective income decline by 1.1 percent.

The widening income gap was found across the country, but was particularly pronounced in Pennsylvania.

“The pattern is the same across all the states, which is the income is increasingly flowing up,” said Mark Price, an analyst with Pennsylvania’s Keystone Research Center. “It’s worse some places than others.”

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Kane Grand Jury: Scale Back Reporters’ Shield Law Because Our Job Was Hard

A new grand jury report is calling for weakening the Pennsylvania “Shield Law” that protects journalists from being forced to reveal their confidential sources. Why, you wonder? Surely there must be a good reason for undermining the freedom of the press, right?

Nahhhh.

The report was provided to the news media by a special prosecutor investigating allegations that Attorney General Kathleen Kane leaked material from a different grand jury to the Philadelphia Daily News. Earlier this month, the special prosecutor subpoenaed two journalists at the Philadelphia Inquirer to try to uncover their sources for a report that a grand jury had recommended charges against Kane. The Inky fought back by invoking Pennsylvania’s awesome Shield Law, one of the strongest in our country.

And now the grand jury wants to blow a hole through that law, by adding a “criminal-fraud” exception for grand jury proceedings. Translation: If someone allegedly violates grand-jury secrecy rules while providing information a reporter, that reporter could be compelled to reveal their source.

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