Wednesday, June 13, 2007

PAY IT BACK campaign kicks off

You would think the members of the Pennsylvania House of Lords (aka Legislature) would have learned their lesson with the 2005 payjacking. Thanks to the efforts of citizen activists, bloggers, talk radio and newspaper columnists, most of the members of the Legislature were shamed into giving back the infamous middle-of-the-night pay grab.

But our lawmakers have thick skulls. They just don't get it. They keep finding ways to rip off taxpayers. One of those ways is using taxpayer dollars to fund their re-election campaigns with so-called "Public Service Annuncements." These are nothing more than campaign ads in disguise. The problem is that you and I get stuck with the bill.

More than $6 million was used by career politicians last year to help keep themselves in office. A new group wants lawmakers to give the money back.

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

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

A new taxpayer group, PAY IT BACK, is calling on all legislators who spent tax payer money to air Public Service Announcements to repay the treasury out of their own campaign funds, according to Casey Roncaglione, who is organizing the campaign.

The wasteful spending on Public Service Announcements is more of the same for our Legislature, talking publicly about restraining taxes while spending millions for their own personal use while keeping the public in the dark, Roncaglione says.

Our organization is spearheading the drive and it has all the earmarks of the 2005 late night pay raise, Roncaglione said.

As Rep. Greg Vitali said, "Public service announcements are primarily a device for legislators to promote their own name recognition. You see them being used primarily by legislators in contested seats."

Contact your legislator and let them know how you feel.

You can join Pay It Back be e-mailing

The group has also launched a Web site to keep taxpayers informed. For more information, go to

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