The Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs have never been forthright about their involvement with the dangerous “ReOpen” rallies and associated state legislators. When caught underlining the original rally in April, they proceeded to lie about it. New emails are being made public showing the lengths the Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs were coordinating House Republicans and county officials’ efforts while supporting their political campaigns.
On May 6th, Nathan Benefield sent an email to both Commonwealth Foundation and Commonwealth Partners Chamber staffers. The post contained a link to State Rep. Valerie Gaydos’ Facebook page promoting an Armstrong County letter. In previously released emails through PA Spotlight, state representatives Frank Ryan, Russ Diamond, Dave Arnold as well as Chief of Staff Greg Moreland, and Lebanon county officials discussed their push for other counties to adopt similar political postures to oppose Governor Wolf’s COVID-19 precautionary measures. All without regard for public health.
Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs CEO Matt Brouillette forwarded that email to Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Pries. Commissioner Pries tweeted out shortly after this exchange that “Dauphin County would be joining Lebanon County” in undermining the coronavirus safety measures. These emails demonstrate how closely the orbit or organizations connected to the Commonwealth Foundation operate, blurring where their non-profit and political advocacy work starts and stops within the organizations, with elected officials, and with their campaigns.
The Commonwealth Foundation was also part of the efforts of the emails above from Lebanon County. On Monday, May 11th, after Lebanon County released their letter to the Governor, County Commissioner Bill Ames forwarded the letter in an email to Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow Gordon Tomb, a committee person for the Lebanon County Republicans, William Dougherty – at a purchased email address from Reagan.Com, Rep. Russ Diamond’s official, the private email account of Rep. Frank Ryan, and two other individuals.
Rep. Frank Ryan continued in the thread now on his private account to Commonwealth Foundation senior fellow Mr. Tomb that his current Democratic opponent Doc Clements was “easier to take down than I thought.” Rep. Russ Diamond responded from his official account that Mr. Clements “has no need to recover.”
Elsewhere in the email thread with Lebanon County, Commonwealth Foundation employee Nathan Benefield emailed Senator Arnold’s chief of staff with “principals and ideas from the Commonwealth Foundation” on how to spend CARES Act money. Mr. Benefield warned Mr. Moreland not to let Governor Wolf paint Republicans as “cowards and deserters.” Mr. Moreland forwarded that email to the whole group of Lebanon officials.