How is the PA Game Commission paying $10K a month to a retired Senator’s lobbying firm to lobby the state government on their behalf?

February 9 – Here’s quite a tangled web. 

Recent reporting has shown that the Pennsylvania Game Commission is paying $10,000 a month to a lobbying firm run by Joe Scarnati, a retired Republican senator from Jefferson County, to lobby the state government on behalf of the PA Game Commission. 

The firm is called Allegheny Strategy Partners. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “Highly unusual. I’ve never heard of a state agency employing a lobbyist to lobby the state government. The Game Commission issued some press releases justifying why this is needed to push some of their initiatives, but I’m sure we’re going to hear more about that case.”

PA Representative Paul Schemel said, “State agencies often employ a lobbyist. I don’t know whether $10,000 a month is unusual or not. But Joe Scarnati was president of the Senate, President Pro Tem, so he would know every single senator quite well. I don’t know why I would have hired him. Usually those agencies hire a lobbying firm when there’s something in particular that they’re either concerned about, or that they want to happen.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM asked, “When did Joe Scarnati leave? That also has me, I know a lot of people in here, these are all my friends, so I’m going to get some of my friends that I get to talk to and I’m going to get paid by the government. It seems on the outside, looks awfully dirty.”

Schemel said, “I think it’s been two years since he left. Normally a legislator has to wait a year before they lobby, if they’re a professional lobbyist. If they’re an attorney and Scarnati I think is an attorney, you can actually lobby the day after you leave the legislature. That’s not uncommon. There are a lot of former legislators who are lobbyists, also former administration people from the executive branch or the different agencies. They walk the halls all the time. I’ll say as a legislator, that maybe gets you in the door to have the conversation, but once you leave the legislature, if you’re a powerful man, like Joe Scarnati was, once you leave, you’re not a powerful man anymore. So I think that would get him in the door to talk but really, that’s about it. Whether 10 grand a month I mean, I agree that seems like a lot. I don’t know enough about it. I’m sure we’ll probably be hearing more about state agencies and how much they’re paying for lobbying.”