BY JOHN BAER OF THE DAILY NEWS As your Legislature returns from summer break, as your governor prepares to kick off the special session on energy on Monday, Harrisburg Sen. Jeff Piccola offers, um, a diversion. Piccola, who sought and then abandoned a bid for the GOP nomination to oppose Rendell last year, is investigating lobbying by a major film company, Lionsgate, and a friend of the guv’s, Leslie Merrill McCombs, and a $75 million tax credit for film and TV companies working in the state.
The credit was part of a negotiated state budget settlement in July. The problem is that the company and the guv-pal apparently violated a new lobbying law by failing to properly register as lobbyists with state officials. That’s what Piccola says he’s looking at. He’s hiring a private eye and wants one or two Senate hearings. He chairs the Senate State Government Committee, which has lobbying oversight. But he’s causing twitters.
Asked to comment on the Piccola probe yesterday, Rendell said, “The last person to hire a private detective to look into something in the state Senate got indicted.” Fellow Philly Democrat Vince Fumo allegedly used a P.I. to spy on an ex-girlfriend. Rendell lamely added, “Only kidding.” MORE
RELATED: The National Journal (in 2002) called [John] Baer one of the county’s top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, “the ability to take the skin off a politician without making hurt too much.”