Schott, Lawrence trade barbs over outreach spending

Democrat cites excessive event spending, Republican says numbers ‘cherry picked’

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times


13th District State House candidates Ann Schott (left) and John Lawrence are sparring over how much Lawrence spent on community outreach events such as senior expos and paper shredding events.

The two candidates for State Representative in the 13th District are sparring over how much State Rep. John Lawrence (R-13) has spent on community outreach — a number his Democratic opponent, Ann Schott claims is excessive.

Schott called on Lawrence to explain more than $7,100 in expenses related to various community events the state representative has held. Schott cited numbers from a Right To Know request originally filed by the Scranton Times-Tribune.

“This is yet another example of Mr. Lawrence’s campaign rhetoric not matching reality,” Schott said. “The results of this reporting are deeply concerning to me, both as a candidate and as a resident of Mr. Lawrence’s district.”

The Times-Tribune report suggested that Lawrence was the top spender in the Chester and Lancaster county areas on community outreach events, such as paper-shredding events and community expos.

But a number of other local State Representatives, such as Steve Barrar (R-160) and Duane Milne (R-167) have held similar events in recent months (and have done so for a number of years) which would appear to put the accuracy of the numbers in question — as an example, while Lawrence was said to have spent $7,143.63 on such events, it said Barrar — who holds at least two such events yearly — spent only $215.34.

Lawrence took issue with the numbers, suggesting they were not a true representation of spending of other state representatives and that the numbers were selectively chosen, and therefore an unfair attack. He also defended the need to have some expenditures to reach out to and inform constituents.  and that it was being made into a campaign issue.

“One of the most important things any Representative can do is responsibly communicate with and assist the people they represent,” Lawrence said.  “That is why I focus the limited spending out of my office on that area, including the annual Senior Expo in Oxford which provides a significant service to the community.”

Instead of taking real issues, Lawrence said, Schott, a recently retired and long-time teacher at Unionville High School,  is attempting to confuse voters with a trumped-up issue.

“Now, in a desperate attempt one week before an election, the Schott campaign has released cherrypicked data with significant inaccuracies in an attempt to paint my office as fiscally irresponsible,” Lawrence said.  “This is disappointing and unfortunate.

“I would welcome a factual debate with my opponent, both on the fiscal responsibility personally practiced for the past four years, and on the important issues facing the Commonwealth.”

Still, Schott campaign officials said they feel Lawrence needs to be held responsible for his actions.

“It is unconscionable that Mr. Lawrence would spend our tax dollars in this way,” said Cindy Losco, co-chair of the Schott campaign. “$7,000 is real money — it would allow a deserving local student to complete a semester of college, or allow a local district to restore a student club or athletic program that was lost in the wake of the Corbett/Lawrence cuts to schools.”

An analysis of Lawrence’s spending by the Schott campaign revealed nearly $200

for ice cream dispensed at Oxford First Fridays, more than $1,600 to publicize paper-shredding, and $4,428 for food.

“Certainly, state legislators have an obligation to help residents understand the issues, but this appears to be an abuse of the system,” Schott said. “While Mr. Lawrence is dishing out taxpayer-funded ice cream, local school teachers and parents are reaching into their own pockets to purchase basic classroom supplies.  We need to make a change.”

Lawrence said he feels the charges are unmerited and that he and his staff have run one of the most frugal and transparent state representative offices in southeast Pennsylvania.

“For the past four years in office, I have worked very hard to be fiscally responsible and accountable to the people of Southern Chester County,” he said.  “As promised, my office posts all expenses online for anyone to review unlike many Republican and Democrat members of the House.”

He also notes that he has refused many of the perks and expenses his colleagues routinely accept, saving thousands of dollars a year.

“I have declined to accept a taxpayer-funded state pension, saving the taxpayers of Pennsylvania both now and in the future,” Lawrence said.  “In addition, I have declined to accept ‘per-diem’ payments for expenses, saving taxpayers over $17,000 over the past two years. Many Republican and Democrat legislators accept these tax-free per diems to pad their salary, a practice which I have repeatedly stated should end immediately. Also, I do not accept a state car, a state cell phone, etc.”

Lawrence said he felt the attack was unfair, as he spends far less than many of his colleagues on multi-thousand dollar mailings — and less even than his predecessors, he said.

“In addition, many members of the House, again on both sides of the aisle, send out multiple four-color, glossy, campaign-style mailers at taxpayer expense repeatedly through the year,” he said. “My predecessor in the House used to send out frequent color flyers in the mail with his campaign logo printed on them at taxpayer expense. In an effort to be fiscally responsible and keep the people I serve up to date, I send out one newsletter per year, and an occasional postcard announcing town hall meetings or another similar event. All of these mail pieces are printed in black and white with one color, again to save costs.”

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  1. K Rey says:

    John Lawrence has always been on the level – responsible and respectable. His opponent is really scrapping to bring him down with these trumped up charges, trivial as they are. It is testimony to how very squeaky clean John Lawrence is. PA is fortunate to have him. I mean, when is the last time a politician TURNED DOWN a state PENSION?! John Lawrence should be thanked for the great job is doing for PA taxpayers instead of being unjustly accused of wastefulness. Shame on Schott! I’m rooting for Lawrence!

  2. Robin Fought says:

    I have found John Lawrence to be very helpful in my fight against PSEA and NEA. I am a long time public school teacher in Mr. Lawrence’s district. We non-union teachers were being forced to join the Union or pay an agency fee in order to remain employed.

  3. Jim Codichini says:

    I am having a tough time deciding whether we should remove Jefferson or Lincoln from Mount Rushmore to make room for the winner of this contest. Is it any wonder that young people are tired of the tripe from the two parties and registering as independents?

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