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Notorious white supremacist to launch newspaper in Lancaster


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
September 28, 2020
GOP walks back talk of bypassing popular vote, unmasking a notorious white supremacist, a twist in Pittsburgh, and a call for your best pies. It's Monday.
The unpopular vote

An article published last week by The Atlantic fueled fears of chaos after Election Day in Pennsylvania. In it, the head of the state Republican Party floated the idea that the GOP-controlled legislature could choose a slate of presidential electors to support President Donald Trump regardless of the outcome of the popular vote. Needless to say, that got people's attention.

“I’ve mentioned it to them, and I hope they’re thinking about it too,” Lawrence Tabas told the magazine, referencing the Trump campaign. “I just don’t think this is the right time for me to be discussing those strategies and approaches, but [direct appointment of electors] is one of the options."

Many of you reached out asking if this was possible, and how it would happen. And while there's a good deal of gray area, Spotlight PA reporters Cynthia Fernandez and Angela Couloumbis delivered this key explainer.

The Context: Both Tabas and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) walked back the comments and denounced The Atlantic article.

At first, the Pennsylvania GOP — on Tabas' behalf — said his comments were taken out of context to spin a “pre-emptive farce." In a later statement to Spotlight PA, the state party went a step further and said Tabas had not discussed electors with the Trump campaign but instead the "safe harbor" date — the day on which states need to finish counting ballots for Congress to unconditionally accept the results. 

Corman, on the other hand, said his comments were "hypotheticals" and that he's obligated to follow the state Election Code. That law dictates that each political party’s presidential candidate gets to pick his own electors.

But the U.S. Constitution does allow state legislatures to designate how electors are selected. How exactly that would play out is unclear, though the Florida legislature considered passing a resolution with the same aim in 2000 before the U.S. Supreme Court settled the contested presidential race. 

"For too long, hair discrimination has been the acceptable form of discrimination as we moved from Jim Crow to the civil rights movement."

–– State Rep. Summer Lee (D., Allegheny) on a bill passed by the state House last week that would make discrimination against a person based on how they wear or style their hair illegal
POST IT: Thank you, @yatsko, for reminding us of the beauty of our capital city. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
UP FOR GRABS: Pennsylvania Republicans are targeting so-called row offices to ramp up pressure on Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, the AP reports. The three statewide contests for attorney general, auditor general, and treasurer — all four-year terms — could quietly shape how the state operates moving forward. Meanwhile, former GOP Gov. Tom Ridge urged his supporters to break ranks and vote for Vice President Joe Biden.

BACK THE BLUE: At a pro-policing event in Carlisle, several elected officials claimed systemic racism among law enforcement agencies is not a real issue, but rather the result of media hype, The Sentinel reports. When pressed, state Sen. Mike Regan told the news outlet he "never saw even a hint of it" during his law enforcement career. 

SERIOUS CLAIMS: The Post-Gazette's management and staff have been publicly sparring over a contract impasse, with the union drawing some big names in support of its efforts. But the story took a twist this weekend with the sudden resignation of the union's president after a report alleging sexual misconduct.

'FILL THAT SEAT': Those words were displayed at Donald Trump's Harrisburg rally Saturday, hours after the president nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the country's highest court. The event brought thousands of people together in tight spaces, and many were not wearing masks, PennLive reports.
UNMASKED: A LNP | Lancaster Online investigation found an alt-right Texas podcaster and notorious white nationalist is behind a new website and weekly newspaper, the Lancaster Patriot. "These kinds of sites really are designed to prey on confirmation bias processes of different audiences," an expert told the paper. 
MAILBAG: It's pie season, so we thought we'd share this good primer on some tips and tricks from local Pennsylvania experts. We'd love to feature your pie recipes. If you've got one, send it to us and we'll help you brag.

ENEMY NO. 1: By now, you know the name of the most hated creature in Pennsylvania: the spotted lanternfly. Smithsonian Magazine has a deep dive on the notorious pest and efforts taking place here in Pennsylvania to stop it. 

WHAT TO READ IF ... you're through your pandemic reading list: Here's one NPR's Code Switch recommends you add to your list: Elisabeth Thomas' "Catherine House," set at a school deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania that students are forbidden to leave. 

STRANGE SUNDAYS: Feeling nostalgic these days about tailgating or buying overpriced hot dogs at a stadium? Check out this story about the artificial fan noise at Heinz Field and how it's just not the same for Steelers' fans. 

SPOOKY SEASON: A farm in Bucks County is showing scary movies while also hosting "horrifying characters that surround you and bring the story to life." If you'd rather plan your own series at home, consult these lists of Pennsylvania-set horror movies. 
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out the winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
E T A C C F E R T I I  

Friday's answer: Notification

Congrats to our weekly winner: Brandie K.

Congrats to Friday's winners: 
Craig W., Rachelle G., Art W., Lynne E., Maureen G., Chip K., Patricia R., Tracey C., Patricia M., Charles M., Irene R., Chris W., Joel S., Alex L., John C., Ron P., Craig E., Lee W., Theodore W., Dianne K., Kim C., David W., and Karen W.
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