Sestak’s earmark explanation not quite convincing
posted at 5:46 pm on September 2, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Already falling behind Republican Pat Toomey in the polls in his bid to win a US Senate seat, Joe Sestak has run into yet another ethics scandal, this time relating to an earmark he authored for floating wind turbines. House rules forbid earmarking to for-profit companies, and the earmark money would have eventually ended up in the hands of New Wave Energy LLC, a for-profit manufacturer of the wind turbines, headed by Drew Devitt. Sestak claimed that he understood that the money would remain in the hands of the Thomas Paine Foundation of Media — which, as it turns out, is also headed by Drew Devitt.
In order to clear his name, Sestak released a letter purporting to show that he had no idea that the funds would go to New Wave Energy LLC or any for-profit company. Unfortunately for Sestak, the letter would have proven his case — if it weren’t for one tiny detail, as the Philadelphia Daily News reports:
Sestak just released a letter that he sent to the U.S. Department of Energy on April 12 that clearly connects the non-profit organization to the for-profit company. Sestak also released the initial application for the funding, to pay for construction of a prototype for a vertical axis wind turbine, which has a less definitive connection between the non-profit and for-profit.
In the application, Thomas Paine Foundation founder Drew Devitt notes that “many of the employees of New Wave Energy (which will manufacture the VAWT demonstration model) are located” in Sestak’s Congressional District. What Devitt doesn’t note is that he is the sole officer for both the non-profit and the for-profit.
Sestak said Devitt asked him after the earmark request was filed to write a letter of introduction to the Department of Energy. Sestak said Devitt wrote the letter using a standard format from his Congressional office. Here’s the first line: “I am writing to introduce you to Drew Devitt, the founder and chairman of New Way Energy LLC, a company located in Aston, PA and suggest you meet with the app.” That letter goes on to say the project is being “developed in conjunction with [Devitt’s] non-profit organization, the Thomas Paine Foundation.
In response, Sestak says he “failed to catch” the connection between NWE and the TPF … er, that Sestak himself made in the first line of the letter to the DoE. Maybe Sestak was just randomly typing on his keyboard and failed to notice that the letter actually contained a rather clear link between the non-profit and New Wave Energy? Didn’t Sestak even bother to read the letter before releasing it to the press?
If this is the kind of scrutiny Sestak plans to exercise over government spending and the kind of competence he will bring as a Senator, then Pennsylvanians should take this opportunity to retire Sestak.