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Republicans criticize Democratic senator over family connection to lawyer who helped change Pennsylvania's election law

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Democratic Senator Bob Casey's family connection to a lawyer who was involved in key changes to Pennsylvania's election law is attracting the attention of Republican campaign aides seeking to bring down the incumbent in the crucial swing state.

A lawyer from the same Harrisburg firm as Casey's brother-in-law, Patrick Brier, worked as chief counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of State in 2020 – and was hired to draft the 2024 election procedures in red-leaning Luzerne County.

Myers, Brier and Kelly's attorney, Timothy Gates, was hired to draft election procedures after several polling places in Luzerne ran out of ballots in the 2022 midterm elections.

Senator Bob Casey's family connection to a lawyer involved in voting rights decisions in Pennsylvania is catching the attention of Republican campaign staff as the Democrat currently holds a narrow lead over Republican candidate Dave McCormick in the re-election race. AP

Because of this fiasco, polls remained open two hours after regular closing time, some potential voters were unable to cast their ballots, and a U.S. House of Representatives committee launched a bipartisan investigation into the situation last year, the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reported.

Gates told The Washington Post that Myers, Brier and Kelly do not discuss the legal services they provide to their clients and that Brier, whose practice areas include health care, energy and voting rights, was not involved in representing Luzerne County.

Former President Donald Trump won Luzerne County by double-digit margins in 2016 and 2020.

A lawyer who works at the same firm as Casey's brother-in-law, Patrick Brier, worked as senior counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of State during the controversial 2020 election changes. AP

Before the 2020 election, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar unilaterally made changes to election law in response to the Covid-19 pandemic – and was subsequently sued by Trump's campaign team and others.

These changes included accepting ballots without verifying voter signatures and extending the deadline for mail-in ballots without a postmark to three days after Election Day.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the changes to the state's election law at the time, although some of them have since been overturned on appeal.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the changes to the state's election law at the time, although some of them have since been overturned on appeal. AP

“Bob Casey’s close personal relationship with the law firm that was instrumental in rewriting Pennsylvania’s election rules raises serious questions,” Philip Letsou, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told the Post.

“To ensure that the people of Pennsylvania can continue to have confidence in the integrity of their elections, Casey must urge all members of his family involved in litigation related to the 2024 election to immediately recuse themselves from the election,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Casey's campaign declined to comment.

According to RealClearPolitics' polling average, Casey is currently 4.8 percentage points ahead of Republican Dave McCormick. According to the latest New York Times poll, his lead is just two percentage points.

“Bob Casey’s close personal relationship with the law firm that was instrumental in rewriting Pennsylvania’s election rules raises serious questions,” Philip Letsou, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told the Post. REUTERS

On Wednesday, Casey made a rare public appearance alongside President Biden ahead of a campaign rally in Philadelphia.

In the Keystone State, Trump is 2.3 percentage points ahead of Biden in the RCP average.

Brier's legal work has previously overlapped with Casey's public service.

The senator visited his hometown of Scranton last year to promote a $200,000 grant for the nonprofit Maternal Family Health Services, which Brier began lobbying for at the state level in December 2021, Philadelphia-based nonprofit Broad and Liberty reported.

In 2022, according to the same source, Brier also lobbied at the state level for a Medicaid-managed health care company, months before the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was set to release a scathing report on the organization's efforts to increase its profits by denying treatment and services.

Casey had pushed for the audit in a 2019 letter to the HHS Inspector General after the Dallas Morning News published investigative reports on the scandal.

Brier's work in the Keystone State overlapped with Casey's public service at other times. AP

More than two decades ago, Brier helped Luzerne County settle a case involving “$2.03 million in Medicare overpayments to the federal government and unspecified Medicaid underpayments to the state government” at the Valley Crest nursing home, the Wilkes Barre Times-Leader reported.

A county official told the newspaper in 2002 that Brier should not have gotten involved “because he has too many connections” – and said hiring his firm protected Democratic county commissioners from state scrutiny.

Casey was unsuccessfully running for the Democratic nomination for governor at the time, boasting during the primary campaign that he had “uncovered a crisis in our state's nursing homes” during his tenure as state auditor beginning in 1997.

But despite reviewing at least 25 nursing homes, Casey found no billing problems in Valley Crest in Luzerne County, which was included in his statewide audit.

Casey told the Wilkes Barre Times-Leader that he viewed Brier’s legal work as “belonging [that] could reasonably be viewed as a conflict of interest” in his statements on the government’s “code of conduct” between 1996 and 2000.

He also said that he and his brother-in-law had not spoken “about Valley Crest or working for the state.”


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