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:
Check out the full report at http://www.wgal.com/news/13236100/detail.html
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
Top 5 Republicans (below Reichley):
* Rep. Julie Harhart: $190,805
* Rep. Eugene McGill: $182,688
* Rep. John Payne: $141,130.60
* Rep. Curt Sonney: $161,372
* Rep. Matthew Wright: $141,372.80
Top 4 Democrats:
* 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.