Metcalfe's group State Lawmakers for Legal Immigration works closely with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an anti-immigrant organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group. FAIR has, among other things, received extensive funding from the white supremacist Pioneer Fund, and group leaders like founder John Tanton have made numerous racist statements, such as a 1993 letter stating that "for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that."
Metcalfe has also spoken alongside Dan Smeriglio, an ally in Pennsylvania's anti-immigrant movement and alleged white supremacist, including at a 2007 rally organized by Smeriglio's Voice of The People USA organization. Metcalfe even spoke at a June 2010 rally in Phoenix organized by Smeriglio to support the state's harsh new anti-immigrant law — a rally that even anti-immigrant leader William Gheen boycotted as a result of Smeriglio's white power ties. Gheen noted at the time that Smeriglio had appeared with Steve Smith, leader of the racist skinhead organization Keystone United, at an anti-immigrant rally in Hazelton, Pa. Smeriglio also listed the white supremacist singer-songwriter Saga as a favorite musical act on Facebook, where Metcalfe and Smeriglio were both Smith's "friends."
Some insiders say that Daryl Metcalfe was meant to be a sideshow, and that Republican leaders — House Majority Leader Mike Turzai and Speaker Sam Smith — gave him control of the State Government Committee so that he could stay busy with dead-end and polarizing social issues and away from serious matters like, say, the budget. "They appease him," says a political source from the heart of Metcalfe's district. "And they'll give him things that will get him off their back."
If so, the plan might have backfired: Putting Metcalfe in charge of pushing right-wing social legislation made him more, and not less, powerful. Metcalfe, say Rep. Josephs and others, uses his newly influential bloc of legislators to increase his leverage within the party. They allege that he rallied right-wing Republicans to vote "no" on Republican Gov. Corbett's budget. Though the budget made dramatic cuts to education and social welfare spending, Metcalfe, they say, argued it didn't cut deeply enough. Leaders then promised Metcalfe support on his voter ID legislation in exchange for right-wing support for the budget.
"I think he blackmailed them," says Josephs, who regularly clashes with Metcalfe as minority chair of the State Government Committee. "I think that what Metcalfe did was get 16 or 17 people who also don't care about Corbett or whether the budget is on time. And he went to Turzai and Smith and said, 'You pass this bill on voter ID or we're not voting for the budget on time.'"
Republicans counter that party leadership embraced the voter ID legislation — so there would be no reason for a quid pro quo.
"How would [Josephs] know that?" asks Steve Miskin, spokesman for Turzai. "Rep. Metcalfe voted for the budget and never once whipped votes against it. He never even spoke out against the budget. That's ludicrous."
Rep. Jaret Gibbons, a Western Pennsylvania Democrat, also doubts the horse-trading allegation, saying that Republicans all have a direct interest in keeping likely Democrats from voting. "I think it was more political than ideological legislation," he says, unlike other Metcalfe bills that "truly are social conservative legislation that may have some dissension within the Republican caucus."
Whatever happened behind the Republicans' closed doors, it is clear that the right wing has controlled the party since the 2010 elections, when Corbett, a former prosecutor with a moderate reputation, faced a primary challenge from Berks County state Rep. (and Tea Partier) Sam Rohrer. In an effort to shore up right-wing support, Corbett signed a "no new taxes" pledge with fiscal conservative and Washington power broker Grover Norquist, and promised to deliver the budget on time, signaling from the get-go that his governorship would be loyal to the Tea Party. Metcalfe and Rohrer — the latter now state director of the Tea Party organization Americans for Prosperity — won't let him forget that.
"I don't think the governor is the driver here on some of these legislative initiatives," says former Rep. Karen Beyer. "I think they come from the members on the right."
Beyer says moderates should exercise their swing vote to push legislation that has majority public support, like a tax on natural gas. And she warns that if Republicans continue to pursue far-right policies, they will lose seats to Democrats in Philly's moderate suburbs.
Metcalfe's legislative predecessor, Pat Carone Krebs, agrees. "I've had moderate Republicans in the House caucus say to me, 'What happened to your district, Pat?'" says Krebs, who has an unusual vantage point, having switched from Democrat to Republican. "They elected you, and they elected Daryl ?"
Ideologue or Opportunist?
Like many right-wing state legislators nationwide, Daryl Metcalfe is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which produces model legislation drafted in part by big business. This year, ALEC has come under criticism for its role in pushing legislation like Wisconsin's anti-union bill. What's surprising is that Pennsylvania taxpayers pick up the tab for Metcalfe's involvement.
Documents obtained by City Paper from the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission show that ALEC reimbursed Metcalfe $832.91 in 2007, a "scholarship" that is funded by major corporations. And state
documents obtained by good government group Common Cause and reviewed by City Paper reveal that taxpayers also reimbursed Metcalfe $509.25 in per diems, and for parking and transportation, food and other fees for the 2007 ALEC conference in Philadelphia.
Since 2007, taxpayers have footed $1,164 in ALEC expenses for the self-professed small-government advocate. He isn't the only Republican steering taxpayer dollars to the conservative advocacy group — other legislators also had fees and per diems covered.
That same year, the documents also show that a $50,000 appropriation to cater the ALEC meeting was added into the state budget, a food bill footed by taxpayers that included $30,450 in roasted chicken breast and $3,000 for cheesecake lollipops. The budget outlay was described as "for the payment of expenses related to hosting conferences, meetings or conventions of multistage organizations which protect the member states' interests or which promote governmental financial excellence or accountability."
Metcalfe's agenda more or less mirrors that of ALEC model legislation, including efforts to compel local police to enforce immigration laws and prohibit localities like Philly from enacting their own gun restrictions.
"He's a true conservative," says Mike Pintek, host of a Pittsburgh talk radio show on which Metcalfe often appears. "He's not one of these Republican In Name Only-type of guys."
But Guzzardi, the influential Ardmore-based conservative, says that Metcalfe is more of an opportunist than an ideologue, pointing to his support for the moderate and allegedly corrupt Republican leadership of years past. He calls Metcalfe a "hack," even though Guzzardi's own "Liberty Index" gives Metcalfe sky-high ratings. "If you're a real conservative, you say 'no' to John Perzel. He said 'yes' to John Perzel."
Metcalfe supported Perzel, the ousted and indicted Philadelphia Republican, House Speaker and Majority Leader — an awesomely powerful state politician and a consummate deal-maker always ready to sacrifice ideology for the sake of action. Metcalfe received help early in his career from the New Jersey-based and Perzel-allied political consultants at the David Millner Group. He also said "yes" with dollars: Friends of Daryl Metcalfe made frequent donations to the House Republican Campaign Committee, an organization controlled partly by Perzel and the alleged operations center for illegally using taxpayer funds to carry out campaign work, part of what's known as the bipartisan Bonusgate scandal.
Indeed, according to two sources, Metcalfe's conduct was also the subject of a previously undisclosed 2008 grand jury investigation for illegally using taxpayer funds for campaigns, though he was never indicted. Former Metcalfe staffer Kimberly Bartley was called to testify before the grand jury, according to her mother, Debbie Bartley. "I went with her to Pittsburgh to testify," she says, but "nothing ever came of it."
A separate person with direct knowledge of the proceedings confirmed Bartley's account, and another source says that Metcalfe was interviewed by two investigators from the Attorney General's office on the subject.
Liberals accused then-Attorney General Corbett of carrying out a partisan investigation, which only netted Perzel after numerous Democrats had been indicted. Although Corbett had said other investigations were ongoing, nothing has been heard since.
Enemies in Both Parties
Metcalfe has a reputation for being difficult, and neither his personal nor his political styles have gone over well with many at home.