It shouldn’t be a surprise former Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai cemented his legacy as a proxy for special interests by taking a lucrative job with the natural gas industry. The former Speaker spent years in Republican leadership failing to advance the Commonwealth Foundation’s agenda and their billionaire backers. Let’s take one last look at his most embarrassing moments from the past decade to say goodbye.
Failed Voter Suppression
In what can be a long list of embarrassing blunders for the former House Speaker, this may be his most memorable. When Mike Turzai was speaking to the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee in 2012, he proclaimed that the racist Voter ID bill that the legislature pushed through would deliver Mitt Romney Pennsylvania and the presidency. He told the committee, “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.” Well, Mitt Romney didn’t win Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth Court eventually overturned the law. It was however highlighted by John Oliver.
Caught Using Natural Gas Lobbyist Talking Points
Speaker Turzai’s support for the natural gas industry didn’t start with his job at Peoples Gas. For years, the former House speaker has been spewing hot air in support of the industry. His most embarrassing moment came in 2015 when speaking at a press conference in opposition to Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed severance tax. While against the severance tax, Speaker Turzai was caught thumbing through a PowerPoint presentation provided by EQT. His handlers at the time claimed that the speaker was using the slides to “cite numbers.”
Called Abortion Advocates “Nazis.”
One of Speaker Turzai’s crusades while Majority Leader and House Speaker was his strident crusade denying women access to reproductive healthcare. He went as far as calling them “Nazis” at a 2019 Real Alternatives awards ceremony. In an offensive speech, Turzai blurted that abortion advocates were similar Nazi eugenicists because of their opposition to illegal abortion bans.
Mansplaining School Funding
Speaker Turzai went to great lengths pushing the charter school agenda for the Commonwealth Foundation and their billionaire donors throughout his time as Majority Leader and Speaker. During a visit with Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Speaker Turzai had one of his most memorable meltdowns. As Speaker Turzai was walking into a private school to meet with Betsy DeVos, Turzai engaged with a public school teacher holding a sign supporting schools. In a back and forth with the teacher, he told her that she “represented special interests people” and that her sign offended him. PA Spotlight captured the moment.
Herd Immunity for Children
It wasn’t a surprise Speaker Turzai spent the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic railing against common sense health protections demanding businesses reopen before they were safe. When announcing his intention to step down from elected office in January, he already touted how focused he was on the private sector and making money. Months later, his new position with People’s Gas was the worst kept secret in Harrisburg. But before Speaker Turzai stepped down, he spent the last months shaping his legacy by mansplaining death statistics to those who lost a loved one and touting herd immunity among children in a rushed effort to undermine Pennsylvania’s recovery from the pandemic.