Rob McCord Pleads Guilty to Extortion

Photo | Matt Slocum, AP

Photo Credit: Matt Slocum, AP

Ex-Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempting to extort campaign contributions during his 2014 campaign for governor.

This comes as no surprise: McCord admitted in a video last month that he tried to strong-arm two potential donors, telling them he could make it difficult for them to obtain state contracts if they did not give money to his campaign.

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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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7 Ridiculous Political Ads From the Pennsylvania Governor’s Race

Election Day is almost here! Tuesday is Pennsylvania primary day, so politicians will be ceding television commercial breaks back to their usual occupants (ads for drugs, beer, cars, etc.) for a few months — until general election commercials start.

For the past month, seemingly every commercial break has been clogged with ads that are ridiculous in one way or another. (Another possibility: I just happen to watch a lot of TV that’s generally aimed at old people.) I guess I’m tired of them, but I’m going to miss the ridiculousness of a lot of the spots. Maybe it’s because they all use the same cliches, but there’s something about political commercials that is just hilarious. Here’s a roundup of some of the more notable ones from this election season.

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The 5-Minute Guide to the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

MC Hammer Explains Tom Wolf’s Giant Poll Lead

We’re now at the stage of things where the only appropriate thing to do is jokingly reference M.C. Hammer album titles. Because the latest poll centered on next Tuesday’s  Democratic primary election shows that frontrunner Tom Wolf is, uh, still running up front: Harper Polling says he commands the support of 50 percent of likely voters.

The other candidates … can’t touch this.

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WATCH: Anti-Fracking Protesters Interrupt Pennsylvania Democratic Governor’s Debate at Drexel

About halfway into last night’s Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial primary debate at Drexel University, a protester jumped on stage to criticize the four candidates — Rob McCord, Kathleen McGinty, Allyson Schwartz, and Tom Wolf — for failing to support a moratorium on fracking, the controversial mining technique.

The protester was Liz Arnold, who has been working with Pennsylvania Voters Against Fracking. The group held a rally against the process outside the gubernatorial debate at Drexel — but were rebuffed from entering the debate, says Food & Water Watch Fund Senior Pennsylvania organizer Sam Bernhardt. FWW Fund is the political arm of the D.C.-based Food & Water Watch, and is coordinating Pennsylvania Voters Against Fracking’s advocacy this election season. The group supports a moratorium on fracking in the state. Read more »

Surprising Winners and Losers in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Race So Far

Corbet photo, Jeff Fusco |  Wolf photo, AP/Chris Knight | Others, AP/Matt Slocum

Corbett photo, Jeff Fusco | Wolf photo, AP/Chris Knight | Others, AP/Matt Slocum

As things stand now, the race for Pennsylvania governor this fall should be extremely anti-climatic, a foregone conclusion as predictable as the 76ers missing the playoffs.

That said, several developments in the Democratic primary could significantly affect what will be a nationally watched U.S. senate election in 2016.

Here are the winners and losers so far:

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Tom Wolf’s Record on Racial Politics Is Clear

York businessman Tom Wolf during a Democratic gubernatorial candidates forum Tuesday Feb. 4, 2014  in Philadelphia.  AP Photo | Jacqueline Larma

York businessman Tom Wolf during a Democratic gubernatorial candidates forum Tuesday Feb. 4, 2014 in Philadelphia. AP Photo | Jacqueline Larma

Let’s get real. If Treasurer Rob McCord were actually interested in initiating a serious discussion about racism in Pennsylvania, he probably would have chosen a more appropriate format and timing than a 30-second scare ad two weeks before election day.

Still, the random last-ditch attempt to impugn the character of Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Tom Wolf has succeeded in getting people talking about race, and it’s an important discussion for Pennsylvania to have with itself. It is, after all, the most prejudiced state outside the South.

But so far the conversation has fixated on the narrow and not especially productive issue of a racist guy, and the appropriate distance for a political candidate to have from him, when the real conversation Pennsylvania needs is about policy.

The biggest problem with white racism isn’t white people mistreating people of color on a personal level — it’s how those prejudices ultimately manifest themselves in state and local laws and policies that directly or indirectly favor white supremacy, and unfairly ration opportunities and public resources to people of color.

And as it happens, Mr. Wolf actually does have a very clear policy record on racial politics, and broadening the discussion to include that record reveals a very different picture of his time in York than the one portrayed in Mr. McCord’s scare ad.

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