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Wagner mulls gubernatorial race

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Former state Auditor General Jack Wagner appears to be mulling a run for governor next year.

Political insiders say the former Pittsburgh City Council president and onetime state senator is meeting with supporters and potential campaign donors. He expects to make a final decision in early September.

Wagner lost to Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto in the city's Democrat mayoral primary, but would be a formidable candidate for the Democrat gubernatorial nomination. When he was re-elected auditor general in 2008, he received 3.26 million votes — more votes than Barack Obama received in Pennsylvania in that year's presidential election.

‘SUPER PAC' DONATION FED ISSUE FOR RICK

Two organizations seek to get Rick Santorum in hot water with the Federal Election Commission.

Democracy 21, a nonprofit working to remove the influence of private money from politics, teamed up with the Campaign Legal Center to file a complaint against the former U.S. senator of Pennsylvania with the FEC. They allege that Santorum and staffers of his ill-fated 2012 presidential bid directed a donor, energy executive Bill Dore, to make a $1 million donation to a “super PAC” supporting his campaign.

That's a no-no under the McCain-Feingold law's provision banning candidates and their staffs from directing more than $5,000 to a super PAC. If Dore's admission in a published report that either Santorum or his aides instructed him to make the $1 million donation is accurate, we wonder if Team Santorum will 'fess up to a significant rounding error.

FELONIOUS DeWEESE PHYSICALLY FIT. You're probably wondering whether disgraced former state Rep. Bill DeWeese of Waynesburg is enjoying his time behind bars.

Surprisingly, the answer appears to be yes.

John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News visited the onetime House speaker convicted of public corruption charges at Retreat state prison in Wilkes-Barre and found him upbeat. That's despite the fact that the earliest he can be paroled is next March and him finding the food in the pokey “deplorable.”

DeWeese spends 15 hours a day locked in a cell with his roomie, a 74-year-old child molester (not Jerry Sandusky). But DeWeese still finds time to take fitness classes three times a week, play on a prison softball team and lift weights.

The ex-Marine probably is in better shape now than he was when he was fleecing the public.

BIRTHDAY HOOPLA. Visitors to the second floor of the Fayette County Courthouse on Aug. 6 didn't have any trouble telling just who was celebrating a birthday.

The hallway outside Judge Steve Leskinen's courtroom was adorned with purple balloons and a placard wishing the veteran jurist a happy landmark birthday.

There was no doubt, either, about the judge's age, as the balloons touted that he'd hit the “BIG 60.”

TOO MUCH TECH? The Pennsylvania Department of Aging has announced the launch of its own YouTube channel in an effort to reach more older Pennsylvanians.

The department says the channel will provide an “easy-to-use archive for those wishing to learn about department programs.”

“We are pleased to be able to offer the public our beneficial videos in this user-friendly format,” Secretary of Aging Brian Duke said. “We hope our YouTube channel will provide helpful information, not only to older adults and elder care professionals, but to all Pennsylvanians.”

Some skeptics wonder whether the department's efforts could be better utilized to reach less-computer-savvy seniors or those who can't afford the hardware or Internet service.

The new YouTube channel — at youtube.com/PADepartmentofAging — includes videos such as an ombudsman testimonial, caregiver support “webinars” covering such issues as legal matters and community resources, and information on elder abuse awareness and protective services for older adults.

ROASTED. The pig wasn't the only thing reportedly roasted at a recent fundraiser for Westmoreland County Clerk of Courts Bryan Kline.

More than 100 supporters and politicians showed up for the Republican's event in Hempfield Park.

Greensburg attorney Brian Aston not only roasted the pig, but took some good-natured shots at the honoree. Among those attending were state Sen. Kim Ward; state Reps. Mike Reese and Tim Krieger; county Controller Jeff Balzer, Register of Wills Mike Ginsburg and Sheriff Jon Held; and township supervisors Doug Weimer, Jerry Faggert and John Silvis of Hempfield and Richard Gray of North Huntingdon.

— compiled by Trib Total Media staff

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