PA GOP chair claims Wecht is 'owned' by trial lawyers

By Michael P. Tremoglie | Nov 8, 2011

Rob Gleason, Pennsylvania’s GOP Chairman issued a statement that Pennsylvania Superior Court candidate David Wecht, a Democrat, is indebted to trial lawyers because he has received a $300,000 donation from the Committee for a Better Tomorrow, a political action committee financed by the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association.

“By taking $300,000 from Philadelphia trial lawyers, David Wecht has allowed a special interest group to bankroll his campaign as he attempts to buy his way onto Pennsylvania’s Superior Court,” Gleason said. “Based on his own previous comments, Wecht should recuse himself from any case that includes a trial attorney who has donated to the Better Tomorrow PAC.”

According to Gleason, “This is a clear example of justice for sale. Could you imagine appearing in David Wecht’s courtroom with a Philadelphia trial lawyer on the opposing side?  Do you think you could get a fair trial? I don’t think so, and I think the majority of Pennsylvanians would agree.”

In today’s election, Wecht faces Vic Stabile, a Republican.

Wecht has served on the Court of Common Pleas for Pennsylvania’s Fifth Judicial District since his nomination by the governor and unanimous confirmation by the state senate in February 2003. He was elected to a full term in November 2003. From January 2009 to January 2011, Wecht served by appointment of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania as Administrative Judge of the Family Division.

Gleason noted that during an Oct.14 judicial forum, Wecht publicly pledged to not accept any contributions from any special interest groups during the course of his campaign. He also said that this issue has already been taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy, writing the majority opinion, stated that there is a serious risk of actual bias if a judge does not recuse himself in a case where one or more parties have had a significant influence on that judge’s election.

“Since David Wecht likes pledges so much, I would challenge him to pledge today that he will recuse himself from any case that involves a Philadelphia trial lawyer who has contributed to the Committee for a Better Tomorrow PAC,” Gleason said.

“What Mr. Gleason is alluding to is that we had donations from Philadelphia trial lawyers,” said Wecht’s campaign manager, Mike Dineen. “Mr. Gleason is disappointed because we were able to raise more funds. We are able to outraise the Republicans because we received the endorsement of most of the major newspapers in the state including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.”

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