A fundraiser for Wolf in the HQ of a top Corbett ally

Posted: July 25, 2014

A LOCAL POLITICIAN and two lawyers are hosting a campaign fundraiser next week at a Philly law firm for Tom Wolf, the Democratic nominee for governor.

Nothing unusual about that.

The Thursday-afternoon fundraiser will be held at the Center City offices of Stradley Ronon.

There's something just a little bit unusual about that.

Stradley Ronon's chairman, Bill Sasso, is super-tight with Gov. Corbett, the Republican seeking a second term.

A paragraph from Sasso's biography on his firm's website lists all the Corbett-appointed posts he holds, including a seat on the Delaware River Port Authority. Sasso was also co-chairman of Corbett's gubernatorial-transition team in 2010.

So, we wondered, will this Corbett ally attend a fundraiser for Corbett's general-election foe in his own offices?

The answers we didn't get to that question are interesting.

Let's start with Sasso: He didn't respond to detailed phone messages and emails.

Montgomery County Commission Chairman Josh Shapiro, a Democrat and one of the fundraiser hosts, declined to comment.

John Saler, a Stradley lawyer and co-host, referred the question about attendance to Sasso.

Linda Galante, a Stradley partner and the third host, did not respond to our questions.

"Suggested contributions," according to the fundraiser invitation, are $10,000 for "chair," $5,000 for "vice-chair" and $1,000 for guests.

Sasso contributes more to Republicans than to Democrats, but he seems more pragmatic than partisan in his politics. And Wolf is leading Corbett by more than 20 points in recent polling.

Corbett's camp says there's been no falling out between the governor and Sasso. Still, the fundraiser seems like a nice chance for a pragmatic player to show a little bipartisan spirit.

Paycheck politics

A new political-action committee, PA Families First, started airing television commercials this week, attacking Corbett's record on education and taxes, with a woman complaining, "We're living paycheck-to-paycheck."

Some of those paychecks are coming from Democratic candidates for elected office.

Chris Durante Visco, the woman identified simply as a parent in the commercial, runs PJ's & Coffee, a Montgomery County marketing firm that specializes in social-media services. Her clients include Art Haywood, the Democratic nominee for the 4th District state Senate seat.

PA Families First is registered in the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Democratic Governors Association, which has put at least $695,000 into the PAC.

AFSCME and SEIU, two major labor unions, each kicked in at least $500,000 as well.

The PAC on Tuesday described the ad campaign as a "nearly $2 million effort" airing in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and Johnstown.

Kevin Washo, a spokesman for the PAC, said, "Chris speaks for thousands of Pennsylvania families who are frustrated that Governor Corbett cut nearly a billion dollars from education, but continues to give special breaks to these big oil and gas companies."

Corbett spokesman Chris Pack knocked Wolf's "special-interest allies" for using a "professional political operative" to spread "lies, deception and false information" in the ad.

Visco tweeted the PA Families First commercial Wednesday from her company's Twitter account, exclaiming: "This is ME!! This is ME!! #agreeordisagree #Istilllookgood :)"

She didn't respond to our requests for comment yesterday.

That's a little strange, since she offered this sage advice to politicians on her company's blog in November: "Answer the tough questions, don't avoid them."

Quotable:

" If you look at my record, it's been a great record for them. I would also dispute that I've abandoned them."

- Gov. Corbett, speaking Tuesday on WPHT-AM, after talk-show host Dom Giordano asked him if he is losing support from conservative voters because he chose not to continue legal challenges to uphold the state's voter-ID law and its ban on gay marriage.


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout

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