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Lobbyist claims harassment by current Pa. lawmaker

Plus, conservative protesters target Cutler over Rozzi support.

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Monday, January 30, 2023
Misconduct allegation, election oversight, poster pressure, crypto mines, siege sentence, business record, whiskey sour, bear watch, and Go Birds. 

A lobbyist for one of Pennsylvania's most prominent unions said a state House lawmaker sexually harassed her but she couldn't file a complaint.

Andi Perez, who advocates on behalf of Service Employees International Union 32BJ in Harrisburg, made the allegation Friday during the Philadelphia stop on state House Speaker Mark Rozzi (D., Berks)'s listening tour.

She did not identify the lawmaker or his party but said the two of them were discussing a bill outside of the Capitol building when he "decided to caress my leg while I was wearing a skirt, all the while telling me he was impressed by my passion and knowledge of the issues we were discussing," Perez said. "I moved away from him hoping he would stop — he did not."

Perez said she attempted to file a complaint with the state House Ethics Committee but was told she couldn't because she was not an employee of the chamber. She joined others in calling for that rule to be changed.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Lobbyist says she was harassed by current Pa. lawmaker, wants legislature to change misconduct rules.

THE CONTEXT: State House leadership added workplace protections to the chamber's rules around such conduct for the first time in 2019.

But the policy only covers state House employees, meaning individuals who interact with lawmakers — other government employees, lobbyists, constituents, and journalists, for example — are unable to report an allegation to the chamber's ethics committee, protecting offenders and their jobs.

State Rep. Kate Klunk (R., York) last year proposed a rule change to explicitly ban state House lawmakers from engaging "in sexual harassment while performing House-related services or duties or in or on any House-owned or leased property or facilities." The resolution hasn't advanced.

In a brief response Friday, Rozzi thanked Perez for her "bravery."

His political gridlock-focused listening tour has added stops on Wednesday in State College and Thursday in Wilkes-Barre.


"We're not letting you forget this, Bryan. We know what you did."

—Sam Faddis, of the PA Patriots Coalition, at a protest outside GOP state Rep. Bryan Cutler's town hall meeting last week; conservative protesters want Cutler to resign over his role in installing a Democrat as speaker
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A buck, as seen by yours truly on a recent walk in Pittsburgh's Mount Washington neighborhood. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

An antlered deer on the steps of a city home.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.OVERSIGHT ROLE: A Pennsylvania state senator who worked to block President Joe Biden's 2020 victory and pushed an Arizona-style election audit here now holds a key election oversight role as chair of the Senate State Government Committee. The AP reports that state Sen. Cris Dush (R., Jefferson) is moving related legislation in the role and could block the kinds of changes supported by Democrats. 

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.BANNED POSTERS: A Central Bucks School District administrator has walked back a directive that saw posters with a quote from renowned Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel removed from display following a social media backlash. Librarian Matt Pecic said he was told the posters violated the district's new ban on "advocacy activities," a nebulous term that critics said would lead to censorship, via WHYY.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.CRYPTO CONCERN: Environmental groups are urging the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to block permits for a natural gas-powered cryptocurrency mine in Jay Township, Elk County, citing air pollution concerns, among other factors, via WJAC. With few state-level regulations in place, one nearby municipality, St. Marys, has adopted its own rules on where the mines can go

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.J6 SENTENCE: The former owner of a State College smoothie shop has been sentenced to six years and eight months in prison for pepper spraying police officers during the U.S. Capitol siege. The mother of one of the officers, Brian Sicknick, who later died, told Julian Khater: "You attacked my son like he was an animal. You are the animal, Mr. Khater. ... How does it feel to be headed to jail for a bald-faced lie?"

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.CAMPAIGN TRAIL: The Inquirer (paywall) looked into a decade of Democratic state Rep. and Philadelphia mayoral hopeful Amen Brown's business and real estate dealings. It found: former business partners who say he broke contracts and bilked them out of investments; day-care centers he owned that have accumulated thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes; and lawsuits filed by angry creditors.
Support Spotlight PA's vital investigative and public service journalism.

EAGLES WIN: The Eagles are going back to the Super Bowl after Sunday's NFC Championship win (recap here). They'll be joined in Arizona on Feb. 12 by Philly icon Sheryl Lee Ralph, who's "opening for Rihanna."

MOCKTAILED: Pennsylvania's favorite whiskey might not actually contain whiskey. A class-action lawsuit against the maker of mini-Fireball bottles, a perennial PLCB top seller, says it only uses "whiskey flavor."

NAME GAME: Further proof that PennDOT needs a snow plow-naming contest: Minnesota has anted up with "Sleetwood Mac" and "Better Call Salt," adding to Ohio's impeccable showing from last year.

BEAR CAM: The Pennsylvania Game Commission's LIVE Black Bear Cam is back and streaming this year from a den in Pike County. The Game Commission has lots more livestreams where that came from.

DOGS > SNAKES: A statue of St. Patrick showed up on a Pittsburgh Redditor's recent dog walk, resulting in this excellent photo

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Friday's answer: Invocation

Congrats to our weekly winner: Patricia R.

Congrats to our daily winners: William Z., Becky C., Kathy B., Vicki U., Chuck M., John A., Don H., Kimberly D., Christopher H., Susan D., Michelle T., Al M., Jane R., Jon W., Elaine C., Starr B., Rick L., William S., Susan N.-Z., Bruce B., Wendy A., Judith D., Michelle T., Janet C., Mike B., Adrien M., Tish M., Barbara F., Nancy S., Daniel M., Stanley J., Norn H., Kim C., James B., Jody A., Ada M., Dennis M., Bill S., Craig W., Dianne K., Joel S., Elizabeth W., Karen W., Dan A., John H., and Irene R.
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