Monday, February 9, 2015

Pa.'s latest public service criminal: "Ivy League Thug" Rob McCord

In this May 8, 2014 file photo, Pennsylvania state treasurer Rob McCord waits for the start of a Pennsylvania Democratic Gubernatorial Primary Debate in Philadelphia.


Driven by blind ambition and resources he couldn't match, state Treasurer Rob McCord crossed the line into extortion of campaign money. He sounded like a thug rather than a guy with an Ivy League education as he threatened financial retaliation if contractors wouldn't donate.

The shakedown of state contractors for campaign money in the governor's race is acknowledged by McCord in a public video and stated in a detailed document agreed to by McCord and federal prosecutors. He intends to plead guilty to two counts of attempted extortion before a federal judge.

The Democrat row officer, elected statewide twice, finished third in the primary for governor last year.

If you met McCord you would probably like him. If you can get past his huge ego, you'd see a man with incredible charisma who is bright, articulate and extremely competitive. In fact, he can't stand to lose. He considers himself an ex-jock. He's an avid squash player. He has Harvard and Wharton School (Penn) degrees in his background. A former venture capitalist, McCord is wealthy and lives in an affluent Philadelphia suburb.

The massive ego was evident in his repeatedly calling the state treasury the “McCord treasury” — like it was his.

With those statewide wins under his belt, the Democrats' primary to him probably looked like it was his to lose. The Democratic State Committee didn't endorse but McCord received the most votes. He was viewed by many as the early favorite with ex-U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz. York businessman Tom Wolf was an unknown. Katie McGinty, a former state environmental regulator, had pizzazz but no money to speak of; same with John Hanger, who dropped out.

But Wolf dumped $10 million into the primary, took off like a rocket and never looked back. SEC regulations made regulated financial companies off limits.

In the past, politicians would tap the financial advisers and fund managersas donors. McCord put $2 million of his own into the race but he couldn't keep up. He raised $2.5 million last year.

McCord seemed desperate with an attack ad on Wolf — playing the race card — and reaching back to 1969 race riots in York, Wolf's hometown. Black leaders there were backing Wolf and McCord's TV ad bombed.

He used the power of his office, state-awarded contracts, to attempt to bully businesses and lawyers to donate.

The quotes in federal documents were so long and detailed they likely came from wiretaps. There are only two instances cited. Were there others? Is McCord cooperating? Two charges seems light. There would be other related offenses they could have thrown at him. He was immediately contrite and remorseful.

McCord announced his resignation and later acknowledged he hoped to keep the federal investigation secret. That didn't work out and within 24 hours he admitted wrongdoing and resigned immediately.

He's another in a long line of Pennsylvania elected officials disappointing us and facing prison time for crimes.


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