Governor Wolf, Pull the Meek Mill, Kevin Hart Ad that Disenfranchises Voters


Sixers co-owner, billionaire Michael Rubin, wore an orange prisoner jumpsuit for Halloween.

Meek says in the ad that he has never voted because he has been on probation or parole since he was 18. If he could vote, he says that would cast his first vote for Governor Wolf. The thing is the rapper can vote. Felons as well as those on probation and parole can vote in Pennsylvania. My fear is Meek’s false statements in Governor Wolf’s ads will dampen turnout among those that are on probation and parole. Even worse to real criminal justice advocates such as me, the effect of his falsehoods could be to lessen the power of this already disenfranchised group in Harrisburg. Basically, Meek Mill and Michael Rubin are helping to disenfranchise a group that is already disenfranchised that they claim to want to help.
It’s not surprising to me that this mistake was made. While Meek Mill and Michael Rubin, founder and executive chairman of Fanatics, have been on a whirlwind publicity tour claiming they want to help advocate for criminal justice reform, they have actually done nothing. It appears that Meek was even too lazy to check if he could vote. Sadly, he has made other misstatements that some have characterized as “setting back the criminal justice reform movement” 10 years.

Rubin has told the lapdog media that he plans to start a foundation focused on criminal justice reform with a personal donation of $10 million as well as an additional $20 million from his famous friends such as Patriots owner and Trump supporter Bob Kraft. This has resulted in fawning stories labeling him the most woke billionaire on earth. Some criminal justice advocates have characterized this picture of Rubin in an orange prison jumpsuit on Halloween as insensitive as blackface. As one fellow criminal justice advocate, who started the campaign to close Rikers prison in New York, complained to me that it was insensitive and reinforced the stigma of prisoners.
Having been involved with criminal justice reform for a long time, I am more cynical and like Rod Tidwell in the movie “Jerry Maguire” say, “Show me the money”. To be fair, one of the holdups in the entrepreneur setting up the foundation has been the search for the right CEO for the foundation. The very busy Rubin correctly wants to delegate the work to a professional. I bought that at first, but he’s been looking for a CEO since Meek was released from prison in April.
What is more troubling, yet not unexpected is that Governor Wolf and his team put out the video with the canards about voter eligibility. It wouldn’t shock me if the governor didn’t know that those on probation and parole can vote. He has either been missing or tone deaf on criminal justice reform starting with his press conference on criminal justice reform in Philadelphia in May featuring Meek and Rubin. He didn’t invite key members of the criminal justice reform coalition such as Community Legal Services. To add insult to injury, he mentioned as one of his key goals expungement of criminal record without mentioning that the Clean Slate Act was already winding itself through Harrisburg with the support of a broad coalition including Community Legal Services, Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, the Koch Brothers, and Speaker Mike Turzai. The Governor, on many occasions, has shown a reluctance to face the reality that there are GOP majorities in both house of the legislature. Making Meek Mill the face of criminal justice reform may line his campaign coffers with the cash of Rubin, but it will do nothing and could hurt further criminal justice reform in Harrisburg. Ironically, his GOP opponent in the governor’s race, Scott Wagner, has been a leader on criminal justice reform in Harrisburg and in his own company where he regularly hires former prisoners.

Hillary’s Campaign Plans 6 Pennsylvania fundraisers in One Week

Once the votes are counted in the New York primary, Hillary Clinton’s campaign plans to host 5 fundraising events in the Philadelphia area with an additional fundraiser in Scranton during the week before the Pennsylvania primary. The candidate, former President Bill Clinton, first daughter Chelsea Clinton, former Governor Ed Rendell, and other campaign surrogates will headline this events. The schedule is below.

 For45 Primary Eve Celebration
with Chelsea Clinton
Monday, April 25, 2016
7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Philadelphia, PA
$45, $250
Evening with Chelsea Clinton
Monday, April 25, 2016
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Philadelphia, PA
$500, $1,000, $2,700
Conversation with President Clinton
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Late Afternoon (Time TBD)
Wynnewood, PA
$1,000, $2,700
Jewish Community for Hillary
with special guest Governor Ed Rendell
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Horsham, PA
This is the home of Jill and Howard Zipin
$50, $150, $250
Women for Hillary’s Evening with Kathy Najimy
and Mini Timmaraju,
Hillary for America’s Women’s Outreach Director
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
6:00 PM
Scranton, PA
$45, $100, $250, $1,000
Backstage with Hillary
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Evening (Time TBD)
Philadelphia, PA

Chelsea Clinton Headlines $45 Philly Fundraiser

Chelsea Clinton will be headlining a  Hillary for America fundraiser in Philadelphia on April 25, the night before the Pennsylvania primary. In order to get a picture with the once former and possible future daughter, a guest needs to raise $1000. A ticket to simply enter costs $45.

The lower dollar amount indicates that the Clinton campaign is targeting small donors and millennials. They might be tired of ceding this group to the campaign of Bernie Sanders. The last fundraiser Chelsea Clinton appeared at, which was held at the gym Soul Cycle, the minimum ticket was $500.

My Nasty Encounter With Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski

It didn’t surprise me that Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields was allegedly assaulted by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. My first encounter with Lewandowski came at the Republican Jewish Coalition Washington event in December and it wasn’t a pleasant one. It was at the RJC that Trump famously insulted the Jews to their face.

He repeated the old anti-Semitic trope, “I am a negotiator just like you folks.” He then continued with the insults by noting, “You’re not gonna support me because I don’t want your money. You want to control your politicians, that’s fine.” I personally was not that offended having grown up in a house where buying retail is considered a sin although many in the room were discomfited.

When I saw the campaign manager walking by while Trump was giving his speech, I could not resist asking him for an interview for the Huffington Post. I naturally threw in I was a Wharton grad hoping that would give me an advantage since the candidate boasts about graduating from there every chance he gets. I still knew that landing the interview was a long shot because, at the time, Trump was covered in the entertainment not the political section of the online media outlet.

Yet I did not the almost violent reaction that I got from Lewandowski. With his arms flailing, he shouted, “Never, Never, especially while Trump’s coverage is in the entertainment page.”

Then, things got even more interesting if you can believe. Since I had only seen the campaign manager on television, I wanted to verify that I was talking to Lewandowski, and not some other man with a buzz cut, by asking his name. Instead of answering Corey, he answered “Brian”.

In light of recent events surrounding Trump, this might seem a minor transgression. But it was a good indicator of things to come. It shouldn’t be surprising that someone that lies to reporters and yells at them for their outlet’s editorial policies would later assault a reporter.

The Washington Examiner’s Al Weaver witnessed some of the skirmish.









Cory Booker Sheds His Taylor Swift Image with New Book

Then Newark Mayor Cory Booker was made for the social media, 24/7 cable news network times we  live in. As mayor, he would direct city resources to snowbound residents via twitter. He became an honest to god action hero when he saved a woman from a burning building. Booker made being mayor look easy and rode his celebrity into a US Senate seat.

His new book “United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing Common Good” shows the Senator has grown as a politician.  Now a US Senator, he is ready to admit that moving to the projects in Newark after Yale law school wasn’t as easy as he made it appear at the time.  In a scene that will make you laugh and cry at the same time, the former 6’3’’ football player at Stanford confessed to hiding behind a 5’2″ elderly African American lady when she was introducing him to the other residents of his new home in Brick Towers. A reader of this book will soon realize that the real superheroes are not Batman and Superman but people such as the president of tenant association at the falling down Bridge Street Towers where Booker first moved when he came to Newark, who fought racism, poverty, and corruption with dignity. What strength it must have taken for Virginia Jones to continue fighting for these projects after her only son was killed in the courtyard.

The then city councilman and mayor acknowledges making a few mistakes and having some regrets such as the death of a young boy in the first days of his mayoral administration that still haunts him. He concedes that there were times he wanted to give up and leave Newark.  He thought to himself, “I am a Yale Law School graduate. I don’t need this.”

His dogged perseverance has  made him the 21st person in American history to go from mayor to US Senator, the fourth African American elected to the US Senate, and, as he likes to boast, “the first vegan US Senator.” His political trajectory might not stop there. He is rumored to be on the short list for Vice President and the Supreme Court. During an interview before his appearance at the Free Library of Philadelphia, he put the rumors to rest. The senator said, “I have got the job of my dreams. I am really enjoying it. I fully intend to stay in it for my term or more.”

Continue reading “Cory Booker Sheds His Taylor Swift Image with New Book”

The RJC’s Quandry: To Trump or Not to Trump

On Friday, Politico ran a story by Glenn Thrush and Alex Isenstadt titled, “Welcome to the GOP Civil War,” which suggests that the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) will not endorse Trump if he is the nominee.

Here’s the relevant section as highlighted by

”Next month, the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group of powerful GOP donors, will gather at the Venetian Hotel and Resort, which is owned by Republican benefactor and RJC board member Sheldon Adelson, for their annual spring meeting. Attendees are likely to vent their disgust with Trump, who has been slow to disavow support by white supremacist groups. And at the meeting, according to two sources familiar with its planning, the RJC is expected to take up a pressing question: whether to even support Trump if he’s the GOP nominee.”

It sounded strange to me that the RJC members, who are some of the most politically active people in the country, would sit on their hands during a presidential race. Seeing and hearing their antipathy toward Hillary Clinton during the RJC Washington forum in December, I couldn’t imagine this group would withhold their endorsement of Trump and help elect Clinton the next president of the United States.

I initially contacted Matt Brooks, the executive director of the RJC to verify the accuracy of the Politico report. He emailed, “That was anonymous speculation in the article. As a rule we don’t comment on anonymous sources or telegraph in any matter what our fall plans may or may not include.”

I then surveyed the many RJC board members that I know if the organization’s plan was not to endorse Trump. All of them gave me a variation of Fred Zeidman’s answer-“You heard it before I did.” Most of them demurred from definitively saying they would vote for Trump if he was their party’s nominee. One Rubio supporter said,”I am still hoping that it doesn’t come to that.”

When pressed on whom they would vote for in a Trump-Clinton match up, most admitted they could not envision voting for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances. Many said that the conversion of Trump’s daughter Ivanka to Judaism and marriage to a Jew assuaged their fears that he was really a racist. Some even went so far as to defend Trump’s refusal to disavow the Klu Klux Klan and former Grand Wizard David Duke to CNN’s Jake Tapper. One former Bush supporter said, “Are you listening only to Rubio? He did disavow. Do your homework and don’t listen only to Rubio.”

There may be more hand wringing than usual but I  expect the RJC will endorse the GOP nominee, even it is Trump,  based on multiple interviews with RJC board members.