Lawmakers use tax dollars to pay for "public service announcements," which are nothing more than free political advertising for incumbents.
I've criticized television news frequently for ignoring important statewide issues. The 2005 Legislative pay raise and the ouster of 55 incumbent lawmakers in 2006 hardly got a mention on TV newscasts, which are filled with car crashes, stories about the weather and assorted puff pieces.
The exception is WGAL Channel 8 in Lancaster, which has done some outstanding reporting on all the corruption, waste and mismanegment in Harrisburg.
The TV station has done it again with a terrific report on lawmakers who spent the most taxpayer money on "Public Service Announcements," which are nothing more than glorified commercials on behalf of politicians.
The bad part of the PSA spending is that you and I foot the bill. More than $6 million in tax dollars was spent by incumbent lawmakers to promote themselves before the November 2006 election. Almost all of them won re-election against underfunded opponents.
Here's the link to the series on the WGAL Web site:
You'll see some familiar names if you're from Southeastern Pennsylvania. I also couldn't help but notice that my state legislator, Rep. Dante Santoni Jr., was one of the biggest spenders of taxpayer money to publicize himself before the 2006 election.
Here's the list of top abusers (the ones who spent more than $100,000 each on taxpayer-funded publicity for their re-election), according to WGAL.com
Top spender overall: Rep. Doug Reichley (R): $216,380
* Rep. John Siptroth: $190,000
* Rep. Michael Gerber: $180,729
* Rep. Michael McGeehan: $111,520
* Rep. Dante Santoni: $105,840
It's also noteworthy that the House voted down a recommendation from its reform commission to ban Public Service Announcements in election years. I'd like to know how many of the "TV stars" on the lists above voted down this reform measure.
All 203 members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will seek re-election in 2008. You have another opportunity to send a message to these career politicians that you're tired of being ripped off. You can't go wrong by voting out an incumbent legislator.
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas