Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Practice what you preach

The Pennsylvania senate race is getting heated, especially after Sen. Arlen Specter lobbed a bomb at challenger Joe Sestak over how much he pays his staffers. Sestak, a congressman from suburban Philadelphia, fought to increase the minimum wage in 2007, yet story after story is coming out about how he paid 10 of his 16 campaign staffers less than the required $7.25 an hour. And I was one of them.

While spending only one month on the campaign, I was paid a total of $550. Hardly enough money for anyone to live on, but I figured it would be a good opportunity to broaden my skills and build my resume while looking for a job. Before accepting the offer, I calculated the hourly wage and found that I would earn $3.18 per hour. What's more, you rarely work just 40 hours per week in a campaign, so in actuality, I was making roughly $1.60 per hour. That's insanity. And it's partly the reason why many good political minds have left his campaign.

After that first month in October, the campaign wanted me to move east to work out of their Philadelphia headquarters. That would be nearly impossible with my life and a house rooted in suburban Pittsburgh. So I countered with a substantial, but fair, salary offer that I thought equaled my level of experience. They flatly rejected it. I flatly quit.

Some say Specter's claim shows he is bankrupt of good policy debates, but I think this argument is very important. How can the Democratic Party nominate a person like Sestak for U.S. Senate when he doesn't even abide by the laws he helped form? I don't have an ax to grind with Sestak, but I would advise him to pay his people what they're worth or expect a blowout in the May primary.


  1. This was brave of you to say Mike, but it needed to be said.

  2. I signed a confidentiality agreement to not discuss any aspects of the campaign. However, this blog post offered no information that is not already public knowledge. My monthly salary? That is public knowledge because it must be filed through the Federal Elections Commission.

    Thanks for the compliment, Scott, but the media is starting to creep into the inner-workings of the Sestak campaign. And as a former member of both the media and his campaign, it's very interesting to watch them uncover stories I witnessed firsthand.

  3. Needing to sign a confidentiality agreement should have been the first clue. :-)

    Does characterizing Sestak or various staffers as foolish, cheap, rude, incompetent, etc. count as "aspects of the campaign"?

    Also, if you witness something that would be a violation of Wage Laws, or an FEC violation, a non-disclosure agreement should not prevent you from discussing anything you suspect of being an illegal act.