Scranton PAC Pulls Chris Phillips Endorsement
May 7, 2017

The Scranton PAC has been of interest to me since they debuted two years ago.  I’ve posted about them here and here.  As of two weeks ago, they’d endorsed for candidates: Katie Gilmartin, Rob Casey, Mark McAndrew, and Chris Phillips.

Notice any difference between the two mailers?  One was from two weeks ago, one just came a few days ago.  Chris Phillips lost his endorsement.  That’s a big deal and maybe I can shed some light on it based on my interactions with the PAC.


To begin, I contacted Chris directly.  He sent me a statement in response to losing the endorsement, “The PAC and I simply agree to disagree.  You should direct further questions to the PAC.  I continue to support PAC principals [sic] and their goal for a better school district.”

What they disagree about, I don’t know.  He chose not to elaborate when I tried to get a followup.  If I get more, I’ll let you know.  But I met with the Scranton PAC a few months ago when I was contemplating a run.  Near the end, they asked an odd question: “Do you have any skeletons in your closet?” I asked them to elaborate, and they said, “You know, affairs, criminal history, and so on.  Things that could come out during the campaign and embarrass you.”  The only thing I offered, because I stick to honesty even when it causes me problems, was that I publicly criticized their very existence (those posts are linked to above).  Ironic that I was there, but it is what it is.

How does this relate to Chris?  I keep hearing over and over from reliable sources that Chris has a lot of skeletons.  He spends a lot of  time talking about transparency, but despite giving him an opportunity to be clear about why he lost the Scranton PAC’s endorsement, he declined.  The word is that the Scranton PAC found enough skeletons that they didn’t want to compromise their own integrity, and they dropped him.  If I get direct confirmation on those skeletons, I’ll post them.  Suffice it to say that it seems the PAC took them seriously enough to scrub him from their material.

There are two other major issues with his candidacy (these are documented) that may be related to their choice to drop him, although they do a lot of research (they confronted me about my incendiary Facebook posts), so who knows?

The first is about his platform plank that he’s against this Board awarding no-bid contracts.  It’s a great position to have, and I agree with it.  But if you go back to the 2009 version of Chris Phillips, when he was in the majority, there were tons of no-bid contracts.  “Good enough for me, but not for thee,” I suppose.  There’s hypocrisy there and that bothers me about politicians.  They deserve to be called out.

The second issue that bothers me is Chris’s platform point that the district was solvent when he was there.  This is disingenuous.  He didn’t have to deal with Tom Corbett’s cuts to education and he didn’t have to deal with MASSIVE increases in pension costs.  To be clear, this is not a defense of the current Board or the district’s financial issues.  I simply don’t believe he can take credit for a totally different situation from almost a decade ago.  There isn’t a comparison.  Telling people he balanced a budget years back doesn’t come close to the actual issues now, both externally and internally.

The bottom line is it’s obvious that the Scranton PAC considers Phillips a liability.  Nobody goes through the trouble of endorsing a team to save the district and then dropping somebody less than two weeks after.  In the words of The Dude in the Big Lebowski, “New shit has come to light.”  I’d love to know what it is.

Leave a Reply


  1. Tom,

    Great posting. I’m not sure about skeletons, but I’ve learned this: Mr. Philips has an automatic conflict of interest (his family’s economic interests vs. those of the SSD/taxpayers). That alone should negate an endorsement.

    – Steve

  2. Yup. His wife was promoted to a principal job while he was on the board. She’s back in the classroom now. And now he’s getting back in the game. There’s a story there. I’d love to know it.

  3. Ethics: morals or principles of a person. Interesting that the PAC doesn’t see Robert Casey as a liability considering one of their listed qualifications is “to promote an ethics policy” for directors. Are we all supposed to forget that within weeks of taking his seat the first time around he made a “mistake” by driving drunk and fleeing from the scene of the crime? Perhaps we are to believe his moral compass was reset after he sobered up and remembered his obligation to the electorate. The PAC is also looking for directors to be “civil and professional” He was anything but civil or professional when he participated in an illegal backroom meeting in which he voted to suspend a high ranking administrator. As far as supporting “a standard bidding policy” we should look into how printers were purchased individually by school so as not to require a bid for the total cost. Perhaps if the PAC wants to be taken seriously, they should vet all candidates equally and hold each one to the same standards.

    1. I hear where you’re coming from. My instinct when everything happened with Casey was that he should resign. He hasn’t, so he has a record to examine. He was, however, the only Board member to vote against the current budget and to publicly state the uncomfortable truth that a tax increase was needed. I give him credit for that. No other Board member, especially not in an election year, would even consider taking that position.

      As for the PAC itself, I’m always suspicious of money in politics, and I’ve written about them before. I met with them and I don’t think they are malicious. I definitely don’t agree with them on everything, though.