Judge Orders Reinstatement of PA Clean Sweep Board on May 26, 2006Edit
Lebanon County Judge rules that "dissident" Board Members must be recognized; allows resigned Board Members to return
In a mixed ruling aimed at encouraging PACleanSweep's diverse group of leaders to solve its problems internally, Lebanon County Judge Samuel A. Kline today ruled that the grassroots political organization's Board of Directors should revert back to the form it held over two months ago.
Klein ruled that original board members Mike Bergmaier, Michele Diehl, Jerry Kelley, William Koch, and Carl Silverman must be recognized as legal directors of the nonprofit corporation. The five chose not to step down in March during an attempted shake-up that began when founder Russ Diamond requested the resignations of the entire Board of Directors. The move led to an extended power struggle, with two groups claiming legal authority.
Klein opted not to rule on the legality of various resignations that were submitted by board members, and ruled that Russ Diamond, Leo Knepper, Tom Lingenfelter, Andrea Stalnecker, and Bob Surrick be recognized as directors. Each of those five had submitted their resignations at some point during the last ten weeks.
Kline also ordered that the group hold a corporate meeting to attempt to resolve its internal problems.
Judge: PACleanSweep may disband Edit
- by John Latimer, Staff Writer, Lebanon Daily News, JohnLatimer@LDNews.com
August 8, 2006 -- PACleanSweep is no more — at least as a legal entity.
Whether the anti-incumbency movement started by Annville businessman Russ Diamond remains a force for political reform is still to be determined.
Yesterday, Lebanon County Judge Samuel A. Kline ruled in favor of a request to dissolve PACleanSweep as a corporation, ending months of infighting by the organization’s board of directors.
Kline’s ruling was in response to a request made last month by Diamond and four other PACleanSweep board members — Tom Lingenfelter, Leo Knepper, Andrea Stalnecker and Robert Surrick — who claimed the corporation could no longer function because its board was deadlocked over organizational issues.
After listening to both sides, Kline agreed with Diamond’s group.
“If I was to keep this entity going, how is it going to run?” he asked rhetorically as he handed down his ruling. “... This nonprofit corporation is hopelessly mired in its inability to get a vote.”
The request was opposed by a faction of five other board members — Mike Bergmaier, Michelle Diehl, Carl Silverman, William Koch and Gerald Kelley — who have been at odds with Diamond since February, when he decided to run for governor as an independent. That group voted in March to dismiss Diamond as chairman of PACleanSweep. Diamond countered by dismissing those five as board members, setting in motion the dispute.
At the core of the conflict was the opposing faction’s claim that Diamond and Lingenfelter, independent candidate for lieutenant governor, could no longer be voting members on the PACleanSweep board because they were candidates.
In May, the two sides appeared before Kline, each claiming authority over operating PACleanSweep. Instead of resolving the dispute, the judge ordered the 10-member board to be reconstituted and gave it 20 days to meet and settle their differences.
The board met on June 4 in Camp Hill but did not resolve the conflict.
Two weeks later, the board reconvened via an Internet discussion group, and Diamond made a motion to dissolve PACleanSweep as an organization. The motion needed seven votes to be adopted but received only five — from Diamond and his supporters on the board.
In the meantime, Diamond and Lingenfelter were unsuccessful in their bids to gather enough signatures on nominating petitions to qualify for a spot on the ballot. But that did not do anything to resolve the conflict between the two PACleanSweep factions.
At yesterday’s hearing Lawrence Otter, a Bucks County attorney who has been counsel for the PACleanSweep since its inception in the weeks following last summer’s legislative pay grab, argued in behalf of Diamond’s group.
Kline put receivership of the corporation in Otter’s hands. He will have 120 days to bring its affairs to an end and disburse its estimated $10,000 in assets, probably to the estimated 47 candidates running for office in November.
Bergmaier argued for retaining PACleanSweep as a corporation. He left immediately after Kline’s ruling and was unavailable for comment on whether he will file an appeal.
During his testimony, however, Bergmaier made it clear that there were deep personality conflicts between his faction and Diamond, whom he called a “control freak.”
“This is a dissolution in name only. ... This is an end around to eliminate the problems of dealing with five members of the board who do not see things the same way,” Bergmaier said. “... It is a dissolution not because of a deadlock, but basically to gain control of the corporation.”
Following the ruling, Diamond pledged to continue working as a political reformer but said he was glad to cut his ties with the group that opposed him.
“I’d rather put not just those personalities but those persons behind me,” he said.
Yesterday afternoon on the http://www.PACleanSweep Web site, which Diamond owns and controls, he posted the following statement about the movement’s future.
“This is not the end of the movement,” said Diamond, “rather this is simply an adjustment in the way the group operates.”