Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Lobbyist & The Governor Respond

Local lobbyist Leslie Merrill McCombs is speaking out against what she describes as slanderous suggestions by a Republican state lawmaker that she has an inappropriate relationship with Democratic Governor Ed Rendell.

Here's a link to my Channel 4 Action News report on Governor Ed Rendell's reaction to Senator Jeffrey Piccola's plan hire a private eye to investigate McCombs' lobbying the governor for the film industry. McCombs is also a friend of Governor Rendell. The lobbying is not illegal, but was months late in being registered with the state, as required by law.

McCombs was already registered as a UPMC lobbyist at the time in question. When she asked the governor to back $75-Million in tax credits for the film industry this summer, she had not yet also registered as a lobbyist for the film company called Lionsgate.

Rendell says there should be a penalty for her failure to register, but he doesn't think it's a big deal. The governor says he was on the record as favoring film industry tax credits before the lobbying by McCombs, whom he's known for years.

Philadelphia media headlined the story as 'Guv, the blonde, and lobbying law', with a photo from a July Pirates game of them seated side by side.

Quotes from McComb:

• "My technical and brief noncompliance in amending my registration is being leveraged by some for political reasons. This is a flimsy nonissue."

• "Clearly, it is being suggested that I have an inappropriate relationship with the governor. That suggestion is disgusting and insulting, and I am appalled that an elected public official can get away with such slanderous behavior. It is deeply hurtful to me and my family."

You can read her complete response on The Pittsburgh Channel.

Quotes from Governor Rendell:

• "You know, he can do anything he wants, or his committee can. I think it's probably a waste of money. I don't know anybody who wouldn't answer questions about this."

• "She's a good friend of mine, fundraiser. I'm good friends with her family. She was one of my best fundraisers from my re-election, but she had no effect on my decision."

• "She's a friend, so's her son, so's her husband."

• "I will say this about her because she's getting a little grief. She has been probably the strongest advocate for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County of anybody in the last four and a half years. When we had the BRAC hearings. she was instrumental in putting together the presentation for Allegheny that saved the 911th. She didn't get a dime for that from anybody."

• "That baseball game that was in the newspaper-- I was there with her and five other people, and her son was there."

• "It's typical media."

Saying that Dave Malone lobbies him as much as McCombs does, Rendell observed:

• "Nobody's interested in Dave Malone because he's a tall, dark haired white guy."


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