Passing the Trash in Harrisburg

Vote Russ Diamond for State Representative

March 13, 2023

Last week I wrote about the horrific cover-up by House Democrats in Harrisburg of a serial sexual harasser in their midst, and how they leveraged that cover-up to squeak their way into the majority and ramrod a poorly drafted House rules package across the finish line. Now that Rep. Mike Zabel has finally announced his resignation in disgrace from the House, more details are coming out.

SpotlightPA has now revealed that House Democrat leadership – including then-Minority Leader Frank Dermody and House Democrat Campaign Committee Chair Leanne Krueger – knew about Zabel's sexual harassment way back in 2019. Despite that knowledge, they supported Zabel's reelection to the House – TWICE – in their desperation to obtain a political majority at any cost.

House Democrats – and several members of their current leadership team in particular – curiously held a very different attitude regarding the handling of sexual harassers in the law enforcement community at the same time they were covering for Zabel.

Good For Thee, But Not For Me

Act 57 of 2020 was unanimously passed by both chambers of the General Assembly a mere fifteen days after a gut-and-replace amendment by Democrat Rep. Chris Rabb was adopted in the House Judiciary Committee. Passed and enacted in the immediate aftermath of the George Floyd incident, the intent of Act 57 was to reduce the ability of bad actors who happen to be cops – including sexual harassers – to be hired by other police departments.

In their remarks on the House floor on final passage of Act 57, House Democrats offered the following commentary:

Rep. Margo Davidson (who later resigned herself due to criminal charges): "We have to address a culture, Mr. Speaker – thank you – where bad actors go unpunished or move on with their baggage."

Rep. Jordan Harris (then-House Minority Whip, now House Majority Appropriations Chair): "Dr. King often talked about not doing what was politically correct, not doing what was expedient, but doing what is necessary because your conscience told you it was the right thing to do," and "In 10, 20 years from now, people will ask you, what did you do to address this issue? What did you do with the power that you had?"

Rep. Chris Rabb: "But in this moment we are acknowledging and affirming everyone's humanity and belief that everyone should be held to the same high standard of excellence, that we believe in transparency and accountability."

Other Democrats who spoke on the floor urging passage of Act 57 were current Speaker of the House Joanna McClinton, current Pittsburg Mayor Ed Gainey, current Auditor General hopeful Malcom Kenyatta, and current Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis.

Passing the Trash

While these darlings of the Pennsylvania Democrat Party were fighting against "passing the trash" within the law enforcement community as part of their "defund the police" movement in 2020, they were perfectly content foisting the trash within their own caucus upon women who work in Harrisburg.

They let Zabel go unpunished, did what was politically expedient, failed to do anything with the power they had, and absolutely did not practice a belief in transparency or accountability.

Of particular note is the inaction and silence of Rep. Leanne Krueger, who was in charge of the House Democrat Campaign Committee through TWO election cycles while apparently knowing about Zabel's sexual harassment. Krueger was one of the most outspoken legislators in the #metoo movement in Harrisburg, but she didn't make a peep about Zabel during his 2020 or 2022 reelection campaigns. Krueger was also mentioned to have known about Zabel in a post by his first campaign manager.

The Road Ahead

Zabel's resignation is effective March 16. He'll be replaced in the House by the winner of a special election which has not yet been scheduled by Speaker Joanna McClinton. This week we'll find out if she chooses to schedule it concurrent with the May primary election, or if she chooses to put it off until the November election in an effort to protect her slim gerrymandered majority.

Pennsylvanians deserve better than this. McClinton, Kreuger and the rest of the House Democrat leadership team owe the Commonwealth a full explanation for their lack of action on Zabel since first learning of his transgressions in 2019.

The voters of the 163rd District in Delaware County would be wise to remember the duplicity and failures of the Democrat machine regarding Zabel when that special election occurs. As an elected member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, and the Lebanon County Republican Committee, my efforts are not just dedicated to my own reelection, but to supporting every effort to help Republicans regain majorities across Pennsylvania.

Losing control of Harrisburg did not happen overnight, and no single election cycle will fix all our problems. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Please consider running beside me in this marathon by making a contribution to my campaign today.
Russ Diamond

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