The company Corbett keeps

The company Corbett keeps
The company Corbett keeps
Associated Press

Ordinarily, the staffers chosen by prominent policymakers don’t generate much attention, and are largely invisible to the public. But once in a while – when, say, a senator with a fringe ideology hires a neo-Confederate, pro-secessionist activist to work on Capitol Hill – there are exceptions.

A classic example emerged this week in Pennsylvania, where Gov. Tom Corbett’s (R) administration hired Ana Puig to a prominent post in the state Department of Revenue. The ideological inconsistency was hard to miss – Puig is a prominent right-wing activist and Tea Party spokesperson who made a name for herself railing against government and taxes. Now, as the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Thomas Fitzgerald reported, Puig “not only went to work for state government, she represents the people who collect the taxes to keep the beast purring along.”

But there’s more to this story than irony. Josh Israel fleshed out some additional details.

Speaking at numerous rallies, [Puig] became co-chair of and registered lobbyist for a local group called the Kitchen Table Patriots. At a 2009 rally, she argued that Obama was a Communist, in the mold of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.  […]

According to Keystone Politics, she defended Nazi memorabilia enthusiast in her organization as “a historian” and “an extremely smart person,” featured a blog promoting birther conspiracy theories and identifying the president as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood on her group’s website, and promoted events warning of the creeping threat of Sharia law in the United States. 

Corbett is well aware of Puig’s radicalism – after he named the right-wing activist to his gubernatorial transition team in 2010, and critics questioned the move, Corbett said he didn’t care. And now the Republican governor has given her yet another position in his administration.

Corbett is facing a tough re-election fight next year, and should probably be moving at least a little closer to the state’s mainstream and a little further from his extremists in his base. Perhaps the governor missed the memo.