The lobbying firm at the center of former Harrisburg PA Receiver David Unkovic’s call for a criminal investigation of Harrisburg’s debt problems gave the political committees of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett more than $55,000 over the last decade, state records show.
The contributions from Greenlee Partners to Tom Corbett’s attorney general and gubernatorial committees are as follows (including food provided for Corbett’s breakfasts):
9/22/2003 – $2,750
9/12/2003 – $145.02 (Food for Breakfast Fundraiser)
12/31/2003 – $3,000
10/12/2004 – $5,000
1/20/2005 – $1,500
12/24/2007 – $1,000
4/18/2008 – $1,000
2/11/2009 – $5,000
6/16/2009 – $100
8/14/2009 – $250
11/5/2009 – $300
12/21/2009 – $1,000
7/09/2009 – $16,960.49
7/10/2009 – $137.10 (Invitation Printing)
1/03/2010 – $62 (Food & beverages)
1/29/2010 – $500
3/22/2010 – $300
3/26/2010 – $1,000
6/29/2010 – $2,500
11/5/2010 – $8,425.60
8/19/2011 – $1,000
As well, Stanley I. Rapp gave:
12/30/2004 – $180.81 (Food for breakfast fundraiser)
And Greenlee lobbyist Vanessa Getz gave:
10/4/2010 – $500
9/3/2010 – $500
For a total of: $55,611.02
In the days before his resignation in March 2012, Harrisburg Receiver Unkovic complained he was being pressured to rubber stamp a bailout plan put forth by lobbyist Stan Rapp, of Greenlee Partners.
Rapp’s clients include Dauphin County, and bond insurer AGM, entities which both are now set to be bailed out by Corbett’s plan.
Before he resigned, Receiver Unkovic requested the U.S. attorney and state attorney general conduct a criminal investigation of Harrisburg’s debt, and the players involved.
Throughout the long bailout process, money and access to the Corbett administration went hand in hand, and was long at issue.
In 2011, state records show, lobbyist Rapp and his client, Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste, consulted closely with Corbett and his staff concerning the Act 47 receiver plan.
According to records from the governor’s office, for example, Corbett himself organized a meeting at the governor’s mansion on May 25, 2011, involving, among others, lobbyist Rapp and Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste.
“Commissioner Jeff Haste is planning to attend this meeting,” governor’s office records relate. “He will be accompanied by the following: Charles Zwally, Attorney, Mette Evans & Woodside; Jay Wenger, Susquehanna Group Advisers; Stanley Rapp, Greenlee Partners.”
The Corbett-backed state bailout plan unveiled this week relies heavily on an inflated sales price for the Harrisburg incinerator to be paid by bonds floated by the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA).
LCSWMA’s minutes reflect the large role played by the Dauphin County Commissioners in setting the inflated price of the incinerator.
In LCSWMA’s July 22, 2011, minutes, for example, Lancaster authority CEO Jim Warner told his board that the original $45 million price tag of the incinerator had swollen to $124 million at the behest of none other than the Dauphin County commissioners, acting on behalf of bond insurer AGM.
“(T)hat is how the $124 million offer was determined,” board minutes report Warner told the LCSWMA board. “The Harrisburg Authority is not pleased that the County negotiated a sale price for their asset. The County did this to attempt to enhance the value and to try to develop a plan with the debt guarantor (AGM) in Act 47.”
In other words, the same parties Receiver Unkovic asked to be criminally investigated ended up brokering the current incinerator deal involving LCSWMA, and the inflated sale price.
LCSWMA’s Warner would soon thereafter also get a face-to-face meeting with Corbett.
In the September 16, 2011 LCSWMA board minutes, Warner told his board:
“On Monday, September 12, Covanta representatives, Chuck Zwally (Council for Dauphin County), and Mr. Warner met with Governor Corbett in Philadelphia. The meeting went extremely well. The message for the Governor was that there is a unified team between LCSWMA, Covanta, and the County of Dauphin ready to come in and execute the transaction.”
State records indicate that Corbett received $1,000 from the Greenlee lobbying firm only several weeks before this meeting involving Warner and Dauphin County representatives, on August 19, 2011.
Corbett would receive another $2,500 from Greenlee on November 1, 2011.
Less than five months later, Receiver Unkovic would resign, saying that lobbyist Rapp and his clients were unduly pressuring him.
“I’m very concerned about the environment with which I’m trying to get this recovery done,” Unkovic said, days before he resigned.
Despite this clear record of insider dealings with the Harrisburg incinerator transaction(s), Dauphin County Commissioners have swung into denial mode.
“The County is not acting as an agent for either the seller or the buyer of the Facility with respect to the proposed transaction,” Dauphin County Chief Clerk/Chief of Staff J. Scott Burford wrote Eric Epstein a few weeks back, on August 21, 2013. “The County is not and was not a party to the process or the negotiations.”
There are currently no limits on political contributions in Pennsylvania, as I’ll discuss in future articles.