Bob Asher Behind Chesco Purge? The Chester County GOP big bosses called in the candyman when they needed some cash to try to crush the grassroots activists encroaching on their turf.
The United Republicans of Chester County (URCC) which primaryed, mostly without success, several new committeepersons in 2014 received $5,000 — about half its income — from Pa Future Fund which is run by the Bob Asher, owner of Asher’s Chocolates and convicted felon.
The other major donors were Bryan McElwee of Valley Forge and Richard Ireland of King of Prussia who gave $2,500 each.
The URCC was chaired by Alex Rahn and its treasurer was Bradley Vasoli. It was terminated on Jan. 15, 2015.
And where were these Chester County “Republicans” working from? According to the campaign finance report it was 241 S. 6th St., Apt. 405 Philadelphia.
And then go figure why the GOP’s state-wide big money guys are trying to chase away their most motivated activists.
Chesco GOP Hearts Dinniman? — It keeps coming in from Chester County.
The latest is that Democrat State Senator Andy Dinniman whose 19th District covers much of that county is a Republican Party play thing; that he literally ran like a puppy from across the room when former Chesco GOP boss “Skip” Brion whistled.
When Steve Kantrowitz ran against Dinniman in 2008 on the GOP ballot he says he did not get an iota of help from the party establishment. He even had to drive his own nominating petitions to Harrisburg. In a snowstorm.
He says the party actively discouraged him from running in the primary which ultimately he won uncontested.
The story is that Dinniman gives the county GOP what they want and they make it easy for him to keep his job.
And is this why nothing ever gets done for the hard-working little guy and gal in the Pennsylvania Legislature but a whole lot gets done for the special interests.
Ask yourself, do teacher strikes really help children. Why are they legal?
Three years ago my wife and I, as solid Reagan Republicans, were tired of yelling at the TV, watching our country as we know it slip away towards socialism, and we were worried about our kids’ future. We decided to attend a Flag Day ceremony on the courthouse steps in West Chester, and we took the kids as an educational experience to learn about our country. There we met a number of interesting people including Sheriff Bunny Welsh who was the impetus for us to try to make a positive difference by running for Republican committeepersons in our precinct. In the five years that we had lived on Valley Forge Mountain, we had never met our committee people, had no idea who they were, nor had we ever had any political literature or sample ballots delivered to our house, so we knew we could do a better job and perhaps help move the needle towards getting more good Republicans elected.
So we ran in 2012 and found out some people in West Chester didn’t like concerned independent-minded newcomers, but would rather appoint their own who might then feel obligated to act and endorse as they were told. For two years we worked hard and we believe we have made a difference in our community with fund raising and new creative ideas.
Earlier this year, when I saw that I was being challenged in the primary, I thought “Fine, that’s our system. Let’s see if he can do a better job than I can.” However, we quickly realized this was a well-organized, professionally managed and funded effort. We spent $66 through Vistaprint for some palm cards, plus we had to fork out $100 just to get our names on our own Republican sample ballot. My opponent had professionally designed and edited literature and an extensive mailing campaign of red, white and blue glossies with our GOP elephant emblem on them, all paid for by the United Republicans of Chester County. They probably spent around $2000 just against me. He even had his own committeeman lawn signs.
So I started digging into this United Republicans of Chester County. And please, don’t take my word for any of this, it is all easily verifiable through the internet and through your own contacts and political friends. United Republicans targeted and tried to unseat dozens of Reagan Republican committeepersons in this past Chester County Primary. United Republicans is run by a guy named Alex Rahn who was the former SE PA Political Director for Arlen Specter, who was obviously not a Reagan Republican. Rahn is also a committeeman in Honeybrook and he happens to attend an awful lot of the Republican Committee of Chester County executive meetings. I was told that Alex Rahn was running a “black ops” campaign to get rid of committeepeople who would not get in line. In their efforts to purge people like me, the United Republicans hired help to call and to vet potential candidates to run. Another committeeperson in Chester County answered a robocall from the United Republicans and after “correctly” answering all of the vetting questions, asked who ran the organization and got the response “Alex Rahn and Rob Brooks”. Neighbors told us that our own Area Chair endorsed my United Republicans’ opponent.
By the way, the United Republicans of Chester County is an unregistered political entity that probably spent between $25,000 and $50,000 on their operations so far. But unregistered means that there is also no public record of political funding. I question where the United Republicans funding came from. I would rather use that money to work against the Democrats.
If this were a plan hatched by the Democrats to fracture our party, it would be flat out brilliant. Is this what causes us to lose elections? Of the dozen or so races contested by the United Republicans, near as we can tell they lost just about every one by huge margins, strong evidence that voters are repulsed by their divisive attacks. I ended up winning my race 136-54. By the way, I called up my opponent after the election to congratulate him on a hard fought campaign. I don’t fault him because he was just a pawn in this scheme, and he is eager to deliver some literature bags for us in his neighborhood.
Does our Republican leadership work harder against its’ own Reagan Conservative Core than it does against the Democrats? I’m speaking out because I think that sunlight is the best disinfectant. What I really want to do is to help the best possible Republican candidates win on every level. The system works best when it is fair and honest. Mr. Gould is the GOP Committeeman for Tredyffrin Ward 5 in Chester County.
Chesco Purge Orchestrated By Big Money?
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This is starting to look more and more like a purge. Along with their rubber-meets-the road job of getting out the vote, committee people vote for the county party leaders. The independent-thinking, question-asking types don’t make the party bosses happy in Chester County it seems.
The four are accused of breaking the county GOP bylaws by supporting a candidate against one endorsed by the party. Committee people are elected. The penalty is removal from office with the county chairman picking the replacement.
Chesco has 454 committee people — one man and one woman from each precinct — divided into 28 districts.
Donna represents Elk Township in Area 19. Among those accused with her is her area chairwoman, Jane Ladley.
Republican turnout in Area 19 is generally higher than the rest of the county.
That any issues couldn’t be resolved with phone calls and private meetings is a strong indication that something more nefarious is afoot than keeping closet Democrats from acquiring party control.
The inquisition is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 11 at the Republican Headquarters, 15 S. Church St., West Chester, Pa. 19382.
Chester County GOP Purging Conservatives? — So what’s going on in Chester County?
Elected small-government, anti-corruption committeepeople have been sent letters calling them before a Jan.11 county Republican inquisition with the intent to remove them.
Donna Ellingsen, the committeewoman who represents Elk Township in Area 19 for the GOP party, and her committeeman, are accused of violating party bylaws for supporting a candidate other than the nominated one. Oh the horror. The violations, by the way, are not specified in the letter.
Donna did tell us that she supported a challenger against Estace Walters, an Oxford Good Government candidate who won the 2015 May primary for township supervisor. Of course, Donna notes that Walters was seen actively colluding with the Democrats, and was featured as the Dem/Rep candidate on the November ballot.
She also noted that Walters was helped by Mark Plaugher who actively worked alongside the Democrats in the May 2015 primary polls to have Walters elected as the Democrat candidate.
“They used a very close facsimile of the official Republican sample ballot which employed a very close facsimile of the GOP elephant logo and made it seem that Walters was the GOP-endorsed candidate to the GOP voters,” she said.
Also receiving notices of violating bylaws in Area 19 were the two committeepeople in East Nottingham, Jane Ladley and her committeeman.
Ms. Ladley chairs the Chesco GOP’s Area 19 which includes Elk Township, and is also a strong conservative.
Contributing to the Byzantine brou-haha is Mark Plaugher who was previously the GOP chair for Area 19 before being replaced by Ms. Ladley in 2014.
Plaugher started the Oxford Good Government in 2015 which specifically ran candidates against the legitimate Area 19 Committee-endorsed candidates in the May 2015 primaries, Donna says. He was assisted in his efforts by several well-known operatives with ties to the Chesco GOP.
The group raised a not-inconsiderable sum of money and was successful in taking down the conservative Area 19 endorsed candidates in several townships including Elk and East Nottingham in this past November election.
“The money trail ends in Harrisburg at 121 State St.,” Donna says.
The address belongs to State Street Strategies, a political consulting firm owned by Ray Zaborney and his wife, Jennifer.
Plaugher has a Delaware County connection. At the turn of the Millennium, he was executive director of the Southwest Delaware County Municipality Authority which deals with sewage waste. You can read about Plaugher’s tenure and why he left at this link.
You think maybe the problem isn’t with the committee people — all of whom are popularly elected — but with the candidates handpicked by the county party leadership?
This is sounding like more of a purge rather than an attempt to maintain necessary order.
Consider that GOP Chesco Treasurer Paul Andriole even signed the petition for a Democrat candidate to get on the Republican ballot for the 2015 Primary.
Meanwhile, the guy running Area 1 for Chesco and a reputedly close associate of the Chesco GOP Chairman Val DiGiorgio, has a long history of supporting big government causes. His name is Alex Rahn and he is reputed to be the brains behind a shadow group calling themselves the United Republicans of Chester County that has been trying unsuccessfully since 2012 to take out the county GOP grassroots factions such as the Elk and East Nottingham committeepeople.
Rahn directed political activities for Republican/Democrat Senator Arlen Specter in 2003/2004 before becoming vice president of government affairs with Rajant Corp., founding AKR Government Solutions and becoming a senior associate with Wanner Associates, a government relations consulting firm.
His most recent venture is a Farmers Insurance agency in Thorndale with his wife Kara.
And this brings us to Kara.
Kara has been a Democrat active in liberal causes. In 2012 she gave $2,000 to Bob Casey For Senate Inc. — a pretty generous contribution considering her job at the time was Delaware County Transportation Manager. In 2010, she doled out $4,600: $2,000 to ActBlue, $2,000 to Sestak for Senate and $600 to Democrat Congressman Rob Andrews.
Besides the insurance agency, Kara was hired recently as assistant director at Voter Services and even more recently became acting director of Voter Services of Chesco, where the reliable Jim Forsythe is no more the director. An abrupt change not previously foreseen by anyone on the outside.
This incestuous bipartisan nepotism appears to go all the way to the top.
Chairman DiGiorgio’s wife, Carolina, landed a nice job in February as head of the Commerce Department of Democrat-controlled Montgomery County. Carolina’s salary is $105,000 not including benefits. We are sure she is putting in the full 40-hours per week doing the brutal, thankless work that Commerce Department heads do.
And we’re sure there’s no conflict of interest in wives of top operatives in the Republican party working hand-in-hand with Democrats.