Wolf's meeting with Council raises questions

Posted: June 06, 2014

TOM WOLF, the Democratic nominee for governor, visited City Council's weekly caucus session yesterday telling the crowd of lawmakers, lobbyists and staffers that he has a "deep appreciation" for Philadelphia even though he's from York County.

Before caucus, he met behind closed doors with 13 of Council's 16 members, as shown in a photo tweeted by Majority Leader Curtis Jones Jr., with reporters locked outside.

The state Sunshine Act prohibits a majority of members of an official body from doing business behind closed doors. But Council President Darrell Clarke said that the group did not discuss anything "substantive in terms of policy."

"He was basically saying, 'Hi,' " Clarke said. "This is the first time that any nominee has come and sat in with members of Council."

Asked what he said to the lawmakers, Wolf said, "Just that I really hope I can get their support and that we can work together and make Pennsylvania the great state it can be."

He said they were supportive.

James Browning, regional director for the watchdog group Common Cause, said that the meeting raises questions about "using government resources and government time for politicking and electioneering."

"Those kinds of endorsements need to be sought and given not in City Hall, not while people are doing their official duties," he said. "It's clearly not in their job description, it's partisan, it's political, and they shouldn't do it at City Hall."

Wolf campaign spokesman Mark Nicastre said that Wolf "did not say anything about the campaign or Governor Corbett."

"It was an introductory, bipartisan meeting, where Tom was introduced to some of the members of the council," Nicastre wrote in an email. "They talked broadly about the key issues facing Pennsylvania and what needs to be done to make Pennsylvania the great state it can be."

Of the 13 Council members in Jones' photo, all were Democrats except Republican Denny O'Brien.

The Corbett campaign yesterday pounced on the episode.

"Someone should remind millionaire Secretary Tom Wolf that the days of shady backroom deals are over," Corbett campaign manager Mike Barley said in a statement.

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN


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