UPDATED: 3:05 p.m., Sunday:
Two Philadelphia-area labor officials have gone on the record to confirm this news organization’s reporting and release more details.
Gary Masino, the business manager for Local 19 of the Sheet Metal Workers Union, said Republican Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo and Bucks County Controller Pamela Van Blunk traveled to Philadelphia Wednesday morning to meet with business managers for a number of regional trade unions. The visit was to quell upsetment by some union officials about a GOP mailer for their campaign that mentioned “corrupt labor union activity.”
“They explained to us that it’s not their style and they don’t play that way,” Masino said of DiGirolamo and Van Blunk.
He added the candidates denounced the mailer and apologized if it upset union officials.
“They said they had nothing to do with it,” Masino said.
“I’ve known Gene a long time and I don’t know Pam that much,” he added.
In addition to his labor work, Gary Masino is running as a Democrat for Philadelphia City Council.
Ryan Boyer, the leader of the Laborers District Council of Philadelphia, confirmed Masino’s account of the meeting.
“They apologized for [the mailer and its content] and said it came from the state GOP,” Boyer said.
The Republican campaign did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.
A Republican campaign mailer from last week rankled members of regional labor unions, and the two GOP candidates running for Bucks County Commissioners worked to smooth things over with local labor leaders, according to Democratic, Republican, and labor sources.
On Wednesday, Republican Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo and Bucks County Controller Pamela Van Blunk traveled to Philadelphia to meet with business managers for a number of regional trade unions. The meeting came during a breakfast for the organized labor officials.
Democratic and Republican sources said the union leaders talked with DiGirolamo and Van Blunk about the mailer’s comments on unions.
Labor unions often carry clout in Bucks County elections. They are able to contribute funding to campaigns and also send members out to knock doors for candidates.
A Republican who has previously run campaigns said union support is important for both parties.
Union representatives were upset after a GOP mailer for DiGirolamo and Van Blunk mentioned “corrupt labor union activity.”
The mailer was referring to the federal investigation, which this news organization has exclusively reported on since 2020, that led to Democratic Commissioner Bob Harvie testifying before a grand jury.
Harvie last week denied he was or had been the target of the investigation, saying the mailer was a “sad reflection of our politics that such categorically false statements would be made simply to gain the upper hand in a campaign for office.”
Sources close to the probe have told LevittownNow.com over the past year that they had not seen evidence Harvie was the target of the investigation.
In July 2020, LevittownNow.com reported FBI special agents, state, and county authorities interviewed several people close to Falls Township and the Pennsbury School District. Several people said investigators asked them about matters related to local government and politics, unions, contractors, political donations, and problems in the Pennsbury School District. The investigation also has apparent ties to Montgomery County.
No charges or indictments have been filed related to the investigation.
Harvie, who is running alongside fellow Democratic Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia, said in a statement this week that the mailer was a “lie.”
“If Gene DiGirolamo and Pam Van Blunk have any decency they will condemn these lies by their campaign publicly. If not, they will continue to show a clear willingness to lie to voters,” Harvie said.
Harvie, who was the chairperson of the Falls Township Board of Supervisors until late 2019, stated DiGirolamo “admitted to our fellow Commissioner Diane Marseglia that he knows these attacks are lies and claimed that he has no control over his own campaign.”
DiGirolamo, Van Blunk, and the campaign did not comment on the issue.
Sources in politics said DiGirolamo has told people he was upset by the mailer, which lists the candidates, has the website for the county Republican party, and was paid for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania.
It was unclear whether DiGirolamo and Van Blunk had reviewed the mailer before its printing.
Last week, the Republicans campaign stood by the mailer and called for Harvie to answer more questions about the investigation.
Harvie, DiGirolamo, Ellis-Marseglia, and Van Blunk make up the Bucks County Salary Board. The board held its meeting Wednesday morning and DiGirolamo and Van Blunk were not present. It was unclear if their absence was related to their meeting with union officials.
The salary board meeting lasted less than six minutes and involved changes to county consumer protection, health department, and emergency service jobs. DiGirolamo did attend the later commissioners’ meeting.
At the commissioners meeting, DiGirolamo called for better relationships between Democrats and Republicans. He said the deterioration on the national political scene was “hurtful.”
He reminisced about when he started in politics in 1994 and how campaigns ran without lots of cash.
“At the end of the day, we’re elected to do good work for the people,” he said.
Ellis-Marseglia responded by pointing to the fact the three incumbent commissioners have voted together nearly every time.
“We work hard,” she said of herself, Harvie, and DiGirolamo.
Below is Harvie’s full statement:
“Gene DiGirolamo and Pam Van Blunk have broken the trust of Bucks County residents. Yesterday, Gene DiGirolamo and Pam Van Van Blunk went down to the Philadelphia Building Trades and admitted the false attacks their campaign has made against me are lies.
“Gene has admitted to our fellow Commissioner Diane Marseglia that he knows these attacks are lies and claimed that he has no control over his own campaign.
“If Gene DiGirolamo and Pam Van Blunk have any decency they will condemn these lies by their campaign publicly. If not, they will continue to show a clear willingness to lie to voters. Bucks County deserves leaders with integrity and bring people together. Diane Marseglia and I have done so through our 99% bipartisan voting record, supporting law enforcement, holding the line on taxes and protecting a woman’s right to choose. Through their behavior, Gene and Pam have proven they cannot be trusted to campaign honestly, let alone govern with integrity.”