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November 03, 2016

Pa. lawmaker likes being on insurance committee because it's good for fundraising

A Pennsylvania lawmaker seems to have gotten his foot stuck in his mouth while seeking an endorsement from his local newspaper.

State Rep. Marty Flynn, D-Lackawanna, didn't get the nod from The Scranton Times-Tribune after his interview with the paper. The editorial instead chose his Republican challenger, David Burgerhoff – partly because of Burgehoff, but largely because of what Flynn had to say.

Flynn has been in the Pennsylvania House since 2012, winning re-election in 2014. The Times-Tribune's editorial board said in its endorsement of his opponent that they were concerned about what Flynn had gotten out of his first four years in the legislature, particularly when it comes to his committee assignments.

Per the newspaper:

In a meeting with the editorial board, Mr. Flynn revealed a remarkable mind-set. Asked to state his priorities for the next two-year term, Mr. Flynn struggled to do so. Asked about his legislative committee assignments, he identified the House Fish and Game and Insurance committees and said: “What I like about insurance is, it’s a good fundraising committee. They keep you abreast on all the local issues. It’s a good committee to fundraise from. Fish and Game, there’s not a lot of support.”

As the paper goes on to point out, insurance lobbyists tend to have more dough to throw to politicians than fishermen.

"Mr. Flynn’s view that the value of his assignment involves collecting that cash to help ensure his own re-election is a good description of what’s wrong with the massive Legislature," the editorial board wrote.

The newspaper said Flynn's approach to politics is why the size of state's General Assembly — the largest full-time state legislature in the country — needs to be cut in half and legislators made into part-time employees.

The Times-Tribune, for context, is hardly a conservative mouthpiece. In this election cycle alone, it has endorsed Democrats for other state representative races, attorney general and state treasurer.

Flynn, a former MMA fighter, seemed to respond indirectly to the editorial in a Facebook post, writing, "You be honest and say why you don't like me, it's because of where I'm from and because of who likes me. It's that simple!" Several supporters commented on the status praising Flynn, with some denouncing the Times-Tribune.

Burgerhoff relished in the endorsement with his own Facebook post: "The article echoed my comments regarding Marty's relationship with the insurance industry, as one of convenient campaign contributions, rather than as an industry that is both important and powerful, and needs be understood."

Whether the endorsement means anything to voters is difficult to say. In the heavily Democratic 113th District, Flynn won his first election unopposed, then trounced his Republican opponent in 2014 with nearly 75 percent of the vote.

In their Facebook responses to the editorial, Flynn got 108 likes. Burgehoff got zero.

(h/t, John Baer