HARRISBURG — Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement regarding U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Joe Sestak’s continued refusal to take responsibility for his latest earmark scandal.
“How many times must the people of Pennsylvania be subjected to another scandal involving Joe Sestak, and how many times must we be forced to watch him refuse to take responsibility for his actions?,” Gleason said. “No matter how often he tries to avoid the countless questions regarding his actions, it was Joe Sestak who requested an unethical $350,000 earmark so that a group dedicated to promoting the ideals of a Founding Father could supposedly build a wind turbine.
“Joe Sestak’s office said he did ‘due diligence’ when his office decided to pursue this unethical earmark. Knowing what we know about the Thomas Paine Foundation, does it sound like an organization that is active in the field of turbine construction? Did Joe Sestak miss the fact that the Thomas Paine Foundation hadn’t filed with the IRS in the past six years, or did he just not care?
“Once again, the voters of Pennsylvania are left to draw their own conclusions regarding this shady situation. It’s time for Joe Sestak to learn that leaders stand up and take responsibility for their actions.”
According to an article published in The Morning Call, Congressman Sestak requested a $350,000 earmark for a small, non-profit atheist group called the Thomas Paine Foundation for the stated purpose of developing a prototype Vertical Axis Wind Turbine project.
When the layers are pulled back, things aren’t what they seem. The Thomas Paine Foundation is a Philadelphia-area group dedicated to sponsoring “activities, events and speakers to educate the public about the non-theist life stance,” not exactly the likely recipient for a $350,000 energy earmark. The address for the Foundation was a home address listed in Media, PA even though the earmark description on Congressman Sestak’s Web site said the money would be spent in Aston, PA.
The Morning Call discovered that Sestak’s earmark was never intended for the Thomas Paine Foundation, but for a for-profit company in Aston, PA called New Way Energy, founded by a man named Drew Devitt. In order to sneak around House rules prohibited earmarks for for-profit companies in 2010, the Thomas Paine Foundation was used as a front to funnel the money to the for-profit New Way Energy LLC.
Devitt laid out their scheme to The Morning Call, saying “One of the things Obama did for 2010 was to eliminate for-profit filing for line items, so obviously New Way [Energy LLC] wasn’t qualified. But Thomas Paine wasn’t for-profit, so it was eligible to file for a line item.”
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is also reporting that a spokesperson for Joe Sestak defended the earmark by saying that “all the appropriate due diligence was done” regarding the $350,000 earmark.