Following the election, RWW will bring you our list of the “The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress.” Our ninth candidate profile is on Tom Marino of Pennsylvania:
In 2007, Tom Marino resigned from his position as US Attorney in Pennsylvania after a corruption scandal clouded his career and raised questions about his honesty. Marino had used his official title as US Attorney to provide a reference in 2005 to his “close friend,” convicted felon Louis DeNaples, who was trying to win the state gaming commission’s approval to open slot machines at a resort he owned. When his office began an investigation into DeNaples for lying about his ties to organized crime, Marino’s assistants uncovered his reference and notified the Justice Department, which transferred the investigation out of Marino’s office. But questions about Marino’s ties to DeNaples remained.
Defending his actions, Marino said on a local radio show that the Department of Justice gave him permission to be a reference for DeNaples. But the Justice Department says there is “no record of Marino having received the permission” to serve as a reference for DeNaples and that Marino never informed the General Counsel office. Although Marino stands by his claim that he received written permission, he failed to produce any letter from the Department.
When the Justice Department launched an investigation into Marino’s actions, he resigned and promptly took a $250,000-a-year job as “DeNaples’ in-house lawyer.” Marino later under-reported his income on his financial disclosure forms, reporting that he only received $25,000 from DeNaples. Even Zack Oldham of the conservative blog RedState said of Marino’s actions: “The reality is just as bad as–if not worse than–the optics of this scandal.”
The DeNaples affair wasn’t even the first time Marino had run into corruption accusations. When Marino was District Attorney in Lycoming County, he tried to get a friend out of a drug charge by going behind the back of the county judge who had refused to toss out his friend’s conviction. According to the Luzeme County Citizens Voice, Marino “approached another judge and won the expungement, but the plan backfired when the second judge learned of the first judge’s involvement in the case.”
Marino continued to struggle with the truth in his campaign for Congress. He criticized his opponent, Rep. Chris Carney, for leaving Washington as an anti-abortion rights bill was being circulated during the health care reform debate. Carney was not in Washington at the time because his wife was undergoing surgery for breast cancer.
He later alleged that Carney “has no problem spending taxpayers’ money for abortions” and that Pennsylvania women were receiving taxpayer-subsidized abortions under the new health care law, even though nonpartisan fact-checkers have confirmed, repeatedly, that the law prohibits taxpayer funding for abortion.
Marino also berated his opponent for refusing to take questions from the press on political matters after Carney, a Navy Reservist, was called for active duty and was barred by law from making “statements to or answer questions from the news media regarding political issues or regarding government policies.”
But his ethical challenges have not kept the far-right from embracing him. In fact, his rightwing politics have earned him the endorsement of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, Rick Santorum’s America’s Foundation, Mike Huckabee’s HuckPAC, the Family Research Council, and the Government Is Not God PAC.
On the issue of immigration, Marino opposes a pathway for citizenship for illegal immigrants, and touts his endorsement from Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, which has been called a “nativist extremist organization” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In his Americans for Legal Immigration PAC survey, Marino says he strongly favors Arizona’s severe SB 1070 law, would refuse to support comprehensive immigration reform, and that he would consider impeaching the President over immigration policy.
Marino said he would vote against extending unemployment benefits, maintaining that some of the people on unemployment simply don’t “want to go get work because they are being paid to stay home.” He said that non-senior citizens should face cuts in Social Security benefits if not the elimination of the program altogether, saying: “my generation and probably the generation that follows me, we are going to have to step up to the plate and say, ‘We are not going to get Social Security.’” The 60 Plus Association, a front group for the health care and pharmaceutical industries which supports privatizing Social Security, aired TV ads on Marino’s behalf.
In a radio interview in August, Marino reportedly suggested eliminating the IRS and the Departments of Education and Energy and replacing them with new agencies, saying, “There’s got to be a total revolution there.”
Despite the ethical cloud surrounding Marino, his hard-line conservative views and support from the Radical Right helped him win election to Congress. Watch this segment from an NBC affiliate revealing Marino’s ethical troubles: