Al Schmidt, the only Republican on the Philadelphia Electoral Council who has fiercely defended the integrity of the 2020 presidential vote, will step down in early January to take over as the next President and CEO of the Good Government Watch Group, the Committee of Seventy.
Schmidt, singled out by former President Donald Trump for attacks, said he decided not to run for a fourth four-year term after being re-elected in 2019. Trump’s attacks and threats from his supporters that followed did not motivate the decision, he said. .
Trump attacked Schmidt again on Tuesday, responded to The Inquirer’s report on Schmidt’s new work. In an email, Trump called Schmidt “RINO,” an insult that only means the Republican name, and said his departure from an electoral post was “great news.”
Trump, who often publishes multiple emails a day pushing false statements about the 2020 election, called Schmidt a “disaster over the massive voter fraud and irregularities that took place in Philadelphia, one of the most important electoral venues. corrupt United States.
Part of Schmidt’s New Job: Fighting Election Lies.
“I am really excited about this opportunity, especially because it will allow me to continue to fight against election misinformation and the misinformation that threatens our democracy,” Schmidt, 50, said in an interview earlier Tuesday, before Trump do not attack him. Michael Stiles, a former US lawyer who chairs Seventy’s board of directors, called Schmidt “perfectly suited” to the non-profit, non-partisan group.
âHe had a very difficult year. He resisted that, âStiles said. “I didn’t get the impression that he was leaving in desperation or that he was being driven away.”
Stiles said Schmidt had a lot of work ahead of him.
âWe have elections coming up for the senator and governor of Pennsylvania,â Stiles says. âWe have the persistent problem with the effectiveness of postal ballots. We have this 2024 presidential election and everything that holds up. “
Schmidt, who is halfway through his third term, announced in January that he would not stand for re-election in 2023. He won the seat in 2011 and ran unopposed in the Republican primaries of 2015 and 2019.
One of the three seats on the board is reserved for a member who is not in the majority political party in Philadelphia, where Democrats outnumber Republicans seven times.
Schmidt said he plans to step down on Jan. 2 and spoke to Mayor Jim Kenney on Monday about his potential replacement. He declined to detail this conversation. Kenney will need to nominate someone to complete Schmidt’s tenure, with approval in a city council vote.
Schmidt faced repeated personal attacks from Trump and other election deniers after Trump lost Pennsylvania. Republican city and state officials have done little to defend him.
Trump, after the November election, tweeted that Schmidt “is being used extensively by fake media to explain how honest things are with the Philadelphia election. He refuses to look at the mountain of corruption and dishonesty. It happened shortly after Schmidt discussed the election results on CNN. Trump’s Twitter account was permanently suspended in january.
Yet Schmidt said in January that his decision not to get re-elected had nothing to do with Trump, suggesting that allowing Trump to take his actions would be “like capitulating to psychological terrorists.”
Lisa Deeley, president of the municipal commissioners, on Tuesday called Schmidt “the only qualified person” to take over at Seventy.
Schmidt testified at an October hearing for the US Senate Rules and Administration Committee on threats to the lives of his three young children after the 2020 election. He said threats against election officials in the state subsided for some time, but resumed when Republicans in charge of the General Assembly in Harrisburg began to push for a “false audit” of the presidential election.
Schmidt said on Tuesday that elections in Philadelphia “have become so much safer and so much more transparent” while he was city commissioner, with the implementation of new voting machines that use paper ballots that voters can see. and improved local audit processes.
“All of this is unfolding against the headwind of formidable efforts to deceive voters and make them wary of the electoral process,” Schmidt said.
The Committee of Seventy announced in July that David Thornburgh, who has served as President and CEO since 2014, resign in january to serve as the group’s senior adviser on issues of redesigning legislative districts and pushing for the Pennsylvania primaries to be open to voters who are not members of the Republican or Democratic parties.
Thornburgh called Schmidt “just a great choice” for the job and praised his knowledge of the election.
“He clearly showed his willingness to speak the truth to power in the 2020 election, telling the truth to the most powerful person in the land,” Thornburgh said, noting that Schmidt had previously worked as a senior analyst for the US Government. Accountability Office. âIt’s important work, the kind of close analysis of what works and what doesn’t. This will come in handy with the kind of work Seventy does.
Seventy was founded in 1904, at a reunion of some of the city’s most prominent residents at the Stock Exchange, to fight corruption in Philadelphia and push for civic reform. The name of the group is taken from the Book of Exodus of the Bible, in which Moses appoints 70 elders to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land.
Schmidt said the group was responsible for his political career. Originally from Pittsburgh, Schmidt moved to Philadelphia in 2005 and attended the Seventy Seminar on How to Stand for Committee Positions in the City’s Neighborhood Structure. He quit his job at GAO, won a seat as a committee member, became a ward leader, and unsuccessfully ran for the City Controller in 2009 before winning his current seat.
âIt’s amazing for me to see how things have come full circle,â Schmidt said. âI’m only a commissioner because of that. They deserve the credit or the blame at the end of the day.