Open Letter to Representative Sam Smith


Mr. Sam Smith

139 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202066
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2066

An Open Letter to Representative Sam Smith

Dear Representative Smith:

The people of District 66 are historically a hard-working class who value God, family, and country.  Few of us have had the easy life handed to us and a great deal of sweat has gone into what success that we have managed by the grace of God.  Not many of us run million dollar corporations or industries.  It concerns us greatly when we see that you accept thousands of dollars from interests that are not District 66 interests.

For example, when you accepted $30,125[1] from Electric Utilities, how can the people of District 66 expect you to vote on issues regarding the electric business?  Will you look after the interests of the people, or will you side with the Electric Utilities? I don’t know about you but if someone gave that much money to my campaign I would feel that I owe them a favor in return.  The temptation must be great.

Then there is the $27,750 from the Telcom Services industries like Comcast, another utility that sells to the people of District 66 at rates set by the government.  If they ask for a rate hike, won’t you feel obligated to grant them what they ask for because of their generous donations?[2]

Sam, District 66 is a conservative district.  Our voting records have shown that most of us prefer not to be associated with the Gambling and Casino industries.  You have accepted $5250 from them.2  If they want to bring a casino to our district will your vote represent the people that live here or the industry that wants to come here?

We all want to see District 66 prosper and become successful, but we also want to remember that this is our home.  We and our children will continue to live here long after the gas is extracted and it would be nice if we have a safe and clean environment.  Many important decisions need to be made regarding this industry and our homes.  We expect to have a representative in Harrisburg who will represent us but when you accept $58,000 from the Natural Gas Lobby we have to expect that you will side with them vs. us in any relevant legislation.[3]

Do we live in a government where the most money makes the laws? Let me rephrase that question.  Should we live with a government where the most money makes the laws?  We are just one small district in PA and maybe that type of practice is acceptable elsewhere but not here in the 66th.  The people of district 66 are looking for a representative that is fair and honest.  I’m not saying that you don’t have honest intentions but by accepting so many questionable donations it sure does give the appearance of having a conflict of interests.

In 2007 you correctly asked Governor Rendell to return nearly $40,000 from a questionable source.[4]  You are to be commended for your stand on that issue.  It is important that our government leaders not be in a position that could compromise their decision-making capabilities.  In that same vein, should not the people of District 66 ask you for the same?  Don’t we deserve representation that is unencumbered by questionable sources?

I wish I could stop here but there are two more points that need to be made.  In 2009 you wrote that your goal was to “earn back the people’s trust and confidence.”[5]  This was in the middle of  the Bonus-gate investigations and you truly stated a worthy goal.  That was almost two and a half years ago and while the people of District 66 are still waiting for real reform we notice that your campaign contributions from interests outside of the 66th district continue to climb.  Your plan to stop corruption is the first step.  First, we must recognize that we have a problem and you have done that.  But the points you outline in your plan are mostly cosmetic.  It is we the voters of the 66th district and other districts around the state that need to have a plan.  The only way to remove corruption from our government is to do it the way that the Constitution instructs us, at the voting booths.

Then there is Computer-gate and the number of your colleagues that have gone to jail for their roles in that scandal.  By your own words, “I think that, if what is alleged is accurate, it bears out that I was given misleading information on what those [computer] contracts were all about,”[6] you recognize that you were involved somehow.  It is a shame that “they” gave you misleading information.  The prosecution did not wish to pursue a case against you nor did a jury find any charges against you.

But Al Bowman thinks not all the evidence was presented.  In a lawsuit, former House Republican staffer Al Bowman claims “caucus-paid lawyers blocked his efforts to give prosecutors testimony against caucus Leader Sam Smith.” [7] [8]  Where is the transparency mentioned in your 2009 plan to earn back the people’s trust?  That plan has fallen short.

Sam, I know you grew up here in the 66th District.  You’ve raised a fine family, made many friends here, and made some worthy contributions. I’ve even voted for you in the past.  But the past few years things have gone downhill concerning the confidence that you elicit from the people here.  We just can’t be sure that your interests lie with us or if they are with those movers and shakers with all the money.  My personal opinion is this.  If you really want to “earn back the people’s trust and confidence” like you say then this is the time to put action to your words.  Show the people that you are one of us by declining to run in this year’s election. You’ve had 26 years of service.  This would be a good time to step down and rejoin the people of the 66th district.

Best wishes,

James M. Brown, Ph.D.


[3]    Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Environmental groups decry gas industry’s political contribution.” 11/11/11, http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/11315/1189124-503-0.stm , 03/18/12

[4]    Sam Smith, “Rendell Should Return Campaign Money, 9/4/07, http://samsmithpahouse.com/NewsItem.aspx?NewsID=7469 , 3/18/12

[5]    Sam Smith, News Release: Statement by the House Republican Leader Sam Smith, 11/12/09, http://blogs.mcall.com/capitol_ideas/2009/11/sam-smith-speaks.html 3/18/12.

[6]    “Sam Smith Speaks Publicly on Bonusgate Arrests.” 11/17/09, http://blogs.mcall.com/capitol_ideas/2009/11/sam-smith-speaks.html, 3/18/12.

[7]    “Foxes Guarding the Hen House” 01/07/12, http://casablancapa.blogspot.com/ 3/18/12.

[8]    Charles Thompson, The Patriot News, “Former Capitol aide alleges malpractice by lawyers in ‘Computergate’ case,” 01/05/12, http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/01/computergate_defendant_alleges.html , 3/18/12.

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About drjimmbrown

Christian, professional educator, family man, fiscal conservative, defender of family values, skilled communicator.
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