The Legislature of Pa. moves protester outside Harrisburg fundraiser: video

This story was updated Jan. 31 at 5:50 p.m. to remove a reference to the Pennsylvania State Education Association and at 7:40 p.m. to include a statement from Sen. Scott Martin’s campaign.

A Pennsylvania lawmaker forcibly removed and then stepped over a protester who was blocking his access to a costly fundraiser held by another lawmaker Tuesday morning.

Sen. Mike Regan, R-York, declined to answer questions after leaving the event, held on behalf of Sen. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, at the Rubicon, a restaurant just steps from the state capitol in Harrisburg .

The protester, who posed as Butler County’s Michael Bagdes-Canning, told the Capital star that he was in “a bit of a pain” after his confrontation with Regan, a former US Marshal, and was already battling back problems.

The protesters, dressed in hazmat suits, blocked access to the event and forced attendees, who had been asked to pay up to $5,000, to wait across the street from the restaurant just after 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Martin, a former Lancaster County commissioner, is the current chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy. He did not respond to journalists’ questions as he entered the event.

Martin’s campaign spokesman Jason Ercole later said, “While Senator Martin supports the right of everyone to protest peacefully, they must obey the laws of our state and never endanger the welfare or rights of others by physically blocking the entry and exit of private businesses.”

He added: “It’s also disappointing that instead of taking the opportunity to sit down with the senator’s office and discuss their concerns like adults, this group chose to participate in a publicity stunt. Had they taken the opportunity, this group would have learned of the senator’s strong environmental record, including the drafters of the Clean Streams Fund Act and work protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”

Harrisburg police were soon called to the scene to try to peacefully break up the protest by environmental advocates, who identified themselves as Pennsylvanians for Action on Climate.

“It’s a toxic stain on our government,” Bagdes-Canning told the Capital star. “Scott Martin is a reliable voice for the fossil fuel industry.” Bagdes-Canning, a veteran environmental activist, was seeking the Green Party’s nomination for lieutenant governor in 2022.

Records filed with the State Department show that Martin received input from political action committees representing such large utilities as UGI, PPL and First Energy during the 2020 campaign cycle.

Political fundraisers like Martin’s are commonplace during the two-year legislature, often several a day, beginning early in the morning and continuing into the evening.

This story appeared in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Click this link to access it.


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