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Supreme Court rejects bid to upend Pa. election

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Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
December 9, 2020
Campaign ads, Supreme Court rejection, nursing home lawsuit, another positive result, no butter sculpture, and disguised ads. It's Wednesday.

If you live in central Pennsylvania and watched cable TV this October, there's a pretty good chance you saw a 15-second ad targeting state Senate candidate George Scott paid for by the Republican State Leadership Committee.

Scott, a Democrat, faced incumbent Sen. John DiSanto, who ultimately prevailed in the brutal, expensive election battle. 

Direct coordination between groups like RSLC, which run so-called super PACs, and political campaigns like DiSanto's is forbidden. So to create the ad, the group turned to a middleman — the same Harrisburg-based firm running DiSanto’s campaign, Spotlight PA and The Caucus report.

THE CONTEXT: No one has accused the firm involved, Red Maverick Media, its owner Ray Zaborney, or RSLC of wrongdoing.

But good government and campaign finance experts said the arrangement is another example of how weak state and federal campaign finance rules — combined with meager oversight — create gray areas and loopholes.

Zaborney said there was a “firewall,” consistent with federal law, between the firm’s work for DiSanto and its work for the leadership committee.

Earlier this year, Spotlight PA and The Caucus reported that a dark money group Zaborney helped launch held an exclusive California fundraiser headlined by the Senate’s top Republican, Jake Corman of Centre County. Zaborney has also run Corman’s campaign for years, but said there was no coordination.


"Then the police took me, and that was it."

— Amanda Papa, of Coraopolis, was arrested during a mental health crisis in 2018 and not informed of available crisis services

POST IT: Thanks, Cris F., for this beautiful photo from your porch, of mist rising off of Yellow Breeches Creek at sunrise in Mechanicsburg. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
THE END: The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly to roll back the state's election certification, The Inquirer reports. President Donald Trump had in recent days called House Speaker Bryan Cutler twice to pressure him to overturn Pennsylvania's results, which U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey called "completely unacceptable."

ALLEGEDLY OWED: Lobbying organizations that represent hundreds of long-term care facilities have sued Gov. Tom Wolf's administration, claiming state officials improperly withheld $153 million in federal funding. The Department of Human Services told PennLive the allegations are false and that the money is being used to support nursing and personal care facilities.

FACING LIFE: The Appeal profiled nine former inmates sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Pennsylvania has the second-highest number of people in the U.S. serving that type of sentence, also known as death by incarceration. 

ANOTHER ONE: Rep. Mike Reese (R., Westmoreland) is now the 10th state lawmaker to test positive for COVID-19, the Capital-Star reports. Last week, the Wolf administration closed the Capitol complex to the public as cases surge across the state.

COMING SOON: The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center expects to receive doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks pending emergency authorization from the feds, TribLIVE reports. All UPMC front-line workers could be vaccinated by the end of January, though it won't be required.
» GIVE NOW, GET A GREAT GIFT: Support essential local journalism and knock someone off your shopping list by becoming a member now.

Contribute $15/month or $180/year and get this exclusive tote bag. Thanks to Jennifer C. for claiming a tote yesterday and David & Jane K. for claiming a tote with their contribution by mail. 
SAY IT AIN'T SO: The Farm Show will go on virtually in January, but it will be missing one key ingredient: the famous butter sculpture. While this is tough news for all Pennsylvanians, never forget — we'll always have Gritty.

MERRY AND BRIGHT: To spread Christmas cheer, Netflix decorated downtown Stroudsburg and five other small towns with charming light displays that just happen to feature its own logo and the titles of the streaming service's holiday offerings. Yes, I am a real-life grinch for pointing this out.

SLUMBER PARTY: Want to do some good this holiday season? One Chester County animal group is seeking fosters to host holiday sleepovers for pups in need of homes. Once you see these dogs for yourself, good luck saying no.

OUTDOOR OPTIONS: News flash: It's cold. That's led restaurants to erect tents, domes, and other temporary shelters to survive the winter. You might be wondering if these options are actually safer than indoor dining. The answer depends on the situation.

DUELING TREES: The Capitol complex is closed to visitors, but you can still see the state's official Christmas tree. The 20-foot Douglas fir from Carbon County has been placed outside the building and will be lit each night until Jan. 8. This tree should not be confused with the contraband one that two lawmakers set up inside the rotunda. 
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. Love the scrambler? Make a donation to help us end 2020 strong.
Yesterday's answer: Exponential 

Congrats to our daily winners: John H., Gail H., Doug W., Ron P., Joel S., Bill C., Tracey C., Janet T., Patricia R., Dianne K., Julianna C., Beth T., George S., Jimmy N., Jarrod B., Kim C., John C., Heidi B., Sherri A., Carol D., Susan R., Irene R., Lynne E., Jayne D., Edward M., Steve D., Mary E.T., Thomas B., Susan D., David I., Art W., Stephanie J., Craig W., Mark O., and Regis K.
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