Pittsburgh for Democracy member, Joy Sabl, discusses Santorum Homestead
Tax Exemption issue with District Attorney Stephen Zappala, Jr. – Photo by Maria Lupinacci
According to today’s Tribune-Review:
Allegheny County prosecutors don’t know if U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum violated any laws by getting a $70 annual tax break on his Penn Hills house.
But District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr.’s office announced Thursday it will investigate.
Democracy for Pittsburgh, a group of Democratic Party activists, petitioned Zappala for the inquiry. Democrats have targeted the Republican in next year’s election.
“This is obviously a partisan political move on the part of these people, motivated either by the Democratic (National) Committee or the campaign of my opponent,” said Santorum, the Senate’s No. 3 Republican. “I’d hope the district attorney would not waste taxpayers’ resources on playing political games.”
During an interview on KQV Radio yesterday, Santorum further claimed that Democracy for Pittsburgh were “rabid Democrat activists” working at “the behest of Casey and others” and went on to talk about how it was all a political move by “Howard Dean and his ilk.”
“Rabid?” “At the behest of Casey?” The simple truth is that a couple of members of Democracy for Pittsburgh came up with the idea to start a petition, questioning how Senator Santorum could take a tax exemption meant for people who live in Allegheny County — who have a PRIMARY residence here — when by all accounts, Santorum lives with his family in Virginia. As a prime goal of Democracy for Pittsburgh is to increase access of real people to the political process, we posted a copy of the petition on the Wiki for this website for people to download and print out and gather signatures. We also established a PO Box where people could mail the signed petitions.
The project more or less took care of itself. Over 750 signatures were gathered. When it became apparent that there was real grassroots interest in the petition, our group sent a copy of the petition to Sen. Santorum’s office; informed County Council about the project and alerted the media that we would hold a press conference (held yesterday)about the petition and then present the petition to Allegheny County District Attorney Zappala. Again, this was all in keeping with our directive to facilitate folks in getting involved with the democratic process — note that that is small ‘d’ democratic.
The accusation that we are are somehow a front for Bob Casey, Jr. (who wants to run for Santorum’s seat next year) is laughable. While there are those in the group who support Casey, others are strong supporters of Chuck Pennacchio and still others want to draft Barbara Hafer, and I’m certain others would prefer a Libertarian or Green candidate.
Suggestions have been made that we receive funds from the DNC, or Howard Dean or (and I assume this was said in jest) George Soros. For the record: no one is paying us to do anything. No one is funding us. We don’t even collect any dues from our members. We are as grassroots as it gets. For proof of that, let me note that the mic we used at the press conference was a children’s karaoke machine personally purchased by a group member. Hardly the type of equipment that you’d find being used by a group with “big time” financial backing.
You can read a full copy of the text of the press conference statement below the fold.
You can read some mentions of Democracy for Pittsburgh and the Santorum Homestead Tax Exemption issue here:
Pittsburgh City Paper, “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santorum Residence”
Tribune-Review, “Group says Santorum gets improper tax break”
Penn Hills Progress, “Group targeting tax break plans event”
Tribune-Review, “Santorum exemption targeted by group”
Tribune-Review, “D.A.’s office to probe Santorum tax break”
The story has also been covered on:
PCNC TV’s “Honsberger Live” program
Fox 53 TV “NewsCentral at Ten”
UPDATE: We have heard that this issue was laso covered on WPXI TV, WTAE TV and DUQ Radio.