Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett may face “historically low” approval in his home state for an incumbent running for re-election, but he’s found one group that seems to like him: Washington lobbyists.
Corbett is scheduled to be in Washington, D.C. tonight for a fundraiser at the offices of lobbying firm BGR Group, according to an invitation made public by the Sunlight Foundation. Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a co-founder of the firm, is listed as an event co-host.
In addition to featuring Pennsylvania’s entire Republican congressional delegation—14 members of the House and Senate in all—the fundraiser is hosted by a who’s who of lobbyists, a surprising number of whom have past evidence of pay-to-play behavior. Each co-host contributed $2,500 or $5,000 toward Corbett’s re-election and base level “Friend” tickets to the event cost $1,000.
Despite his seeming strong support among establishment Republicans and lobbyists, only 20 percent of Pennsylvania voters say that Corbett deserves re-election, compared to 67 percent saying the state needs a new governor, according to a recent poll from Franklin & Marshall College.
Here’s some more information about the event’s non-politician co-hosts, all of whom are either currently lobbyists or have been found guilty of corruption issues in the past:
- Haley Barbour, Loren Monroe, and Bob Wood are all lobbyists with BGR Group, which has the Pharmaceuticals and Health Products industry as its largest source of income. Significant lobbying clients include Select Medical Holdings ($330,000), Airbus ($290,000), Chevron ($290,000), and PhRMA ($240,000).
- Mark Holman and Mark Campbell are lobbyists at Ridge Policy Group, where they were recently signed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania—which is run, of course, by Corbett—to lobby in Washington on its behalf. Both of them have previously been hired by the Marcellus Shale Coalition, which has pushed Pennsylvania to ease the way for natural gas drilling as the top hydro-fracking industry trade group in the state. It is unclear if their campaign contributions will be paid for out of their paychecks from the Pennsylvania government.
- Bob Asher is no stranger to pay-to-play politics. He was found guilty in 1986 of being part of an attempt to bribe state officials in order to win a state contract and is now a co-chair for Asher's Chocolates and a national committeeman for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania.
- Tim Costa, formerly the executive deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare, is now a lobbyist at Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, where he lobbies for pharmaceutical and hospital companies.
- Fred Malek is the founder and chief funder of American Action Network, a dark money group that has spent millions at the federal level to elect Republicans. Technically, American Action Network is not allowed to coordinate with political candidates, but due to lax laws defining and regulating “coordination,” he’s able to hobnob with candidates like Corbett. He also has a history of blurring the lines of the political and financial: the Atlantic writes that in 2007, the “Securities and Exchange Commissioned ordered him to personally pay a $100,000 fine for allegedly using taxpayer funds to reward a political supporter.”