Robert Richard Guzzardi (born 1944) is an American attorney, real estate developer, conservative financier, and political activist. He is best known for his efforts to elect "reform Republican" candidates to the Pennsylvania General Assembly after the 2005 Pennsylvania General Assembly pay raise controversy.
Personal life and career
He graduated from Saint Joseph's Preparatory School in 1963. He earned a degree in philosophy from Georgetown University in 1966 and earned a law degree from Temple University School of Law in 1970.
Guzzardi worked as a real estate attorney and founded Chancellor Properties, Inc. to manage several rental properties in Center City, Philadelphia. By 2006, he had sold most of his interests in these properties.
12th Street Gym
In 2006, Guzzardi's financial support of conservative Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who became known for lack of support for gay rights, became an issue with the clientele of his 12th Street Gym, which was known for being one of Philadelphia's "most gay-friendly establishments." The gym's business manager noted that all of the money donated to Santorum came from Guzzadi's personal account and not from the gym's business accounts. Guzzardi maintained that he supported Santorum on such issues as Israel, and not his social stance.
Political activity and financing in 2006-2010
Following the 2005 Pennsylvania General Assembly pay raise controversy, Guzzardi began financing a large number of "reform" candidates to run against a number of incumbent legislators in the 2006 General Assembly election. He heavily supported two primary challenges against the two Republican Leaders in the Pennsylvania Senate, Chip Brightbill and Robert Jubelirer. He targeted Republican Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives John Perzel by supporting candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, who were likely to vote against Perzel for Speaker.
Guzzardi was an early and significant force in recruiting and funding tire salesman Mike Folmer's challenge to Chip Brightbill in the Republican primary for the 48th senatorial district in the Pennsylvania Senate. Guzzardi's support of Folmer became a campaign issue when Brightbill accused the two of running a "stealth Democrat campaign", because of Folmer's past Democratic voter registration and Guzzardi's past support of Democratic candidates. Brightbill noted that Guzzardi had donated financially to Ed Rendell, John F. Street, Bob Casey, Jr. in the past.
Guzzardi told the Intelligencer Journal that Folmer's challenge to Brightbill was "viable now ...because of the pay-jacking and because of people like me. I just happen to be one of those guys who happens to have a little bit of money, and is interested in good government." In the May 2006 primary election, Folmer defeated Brightbill in one of the largest upsets in Pennsylvania electoral history.
In October 2005, Guzzardi sponsored two public opinion polls in the 30th senatorial district to gauge the damage that the pay raise had done to longtime Republican Senator Robert Jubelirer. The unflattering poll results showed Jubelirer's weakness and caused reporter Dimitri Vassilaros to call Guzzardi "Jubelirer's worst nightmare" and attracted potential candidates to a race that had seemed un-winnable. Guzzardi became a strong financial supporter of John Eichelberger, who successfully challenged Jubelirer in the Republican primary.
Unseating John Perzel
Because Perzel occupied an invincible seat, a direct challenger was not feasible. Instead, Guzzardi set out to unseat John Perzel from his Speakership by funding State House candidates of both parties that would refuse to vote for him in the Speaker election. He spent over $100,000 of his own money in this effort. Perzel's staff claimed this effort was illegal and threatened to have the Pennsylvania Attorney General investigate Guzzardi.
Following the election, Guzzardi and his newly elected allies hoped to split enough Republican votes for an alternative reform-minded candidate to deny Perzel the speakership and to elect Bill DeWeese, who would have to deal with a "reform wing" for him to deal with.
The plan worked, denying the speakership to Perzel when six Republicans and the entire Democratic caucus voted for Republican Dennis M. O'Brien once it became clear that neither Perzel nor DeWeese had enough votes to win the speakership. O'Brien adopted several of the "reform Republicans'" proposals, including major changes in open records, leading to a new open records law in Pennsylvania.
Guzzardi was invited to testify before the Speaker's Commission of Reform.
2014 Pennsylvania gubernatorial race
On March 10, 2014, it was announced that Guzzardi had acquired enough signatures on nominating petitions to face Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett in the May 20 Republican primary. However, Guzzardi failed to file a statement of financial interests as required by law, after being told by an employee of the State Department that it was unnecessary. Four Republicans, backed by the state Republican Party, sued to have him removed from the ballot. The case reached the state Supreme Court which ordered that Guzzardi's name be struck from the ballot.
- "Bob Guzzardi - Yorktown University Trustees". yorktownuniversity.edu. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
- "About Bob". BobGuzzardi.com. Archived from the original on February 27, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
- Polaneczky, Ronnie (February 9, 2006). "Is gym owner betraying gays by backing Santorum?". Philadelphia Daily News. Philadelphia.
- Fitzgerald, Thomas (April 11, 2006). "Gym boycott averted after news of sale. Activists had targeted the 12th Street Gym over co-owner Bob Guzzardi's financial support of conservative causes. On Friday, he agreed to sell to his partner". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Murse, Tom (January 9, 2006). "Brightbill challenged by former Democrat". Intelligencer Journal. Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012.
- Pidgeon, Dave (March 14, 2006). "Brightbill criticizes primary foe's poll". Intelligencer Journal. Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012.
- Fitzgerald, Thomas (May 1, 2006). "Gym owner aided Democrats". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
- "2006 General Primary - Senator in the General Assembly". Commonwealth of PA - Elections Information. Pennsylvania Department of State. 2004. Archived from the original on June 26, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
- Vassilaros, Dimitri (October 24, 2005). "Jubelirer is in trouble". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.[permanent dead link]
- Barnes, Tom (April 30, 2006). "Anger over pay raise dogs Jubelirer campaign". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- Bumsted, Brad (October 29, 2006). "The GOP's China Syndrome". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.[permanent dead link]
- "Why not a scepter and crown for John Perzel?". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. January 14, 2007.[permanent dead link]
- Rittmeyer, Brian C. (July 3, 2006). "Republican challenger for House seat won't back Perzel". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- McCaffery, Jim (August 2, 2006). "Moneyman: Bob Guzzardi's Pennsylvania Agenda". The Bulletin. Archived from the original on February 1, 2010.
- DeCoursey, Pete (December 29, 2006). "Who holds cards in Pa. Speaker's race?". Intelligencer Journal.
- Tracie Mauriello (2008-01-03). "New House speaker hailed as firm, fair, passionate". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- Bumsted, Brad (May 25, 2007). "Pa. is 'the worst' for open record laws". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- "PA Politics webpage with announcement that Guzzardi will appear on the ballot", politicspa.com; retrieved 2014-03-13.
- Jackson, Peter (May 1, 2014). "Corbett's GOP foe Bob Guzzardi ordered off Pa. primary ballot". The Delaware County Daily Times. Retrieved May 21, 2014.