Russ Diamond

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Russ Diamond
Born (1963-07-26) July 26, 1963 (age 50)
Known for PACleansweep

Russell H. "Russ" Diamond (born July 26, 1963) is an entrepreneur, political activist, and politician from the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. He attempted to secure ballot access as an Independent candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania in 2006. He is currently running for Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor as a Republican.

Personal Background[edit]

Diamond was born in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Northern Lebanon High School and received a degree from Lebanon County Career and Technology Center in 1981. He went to work in a factory after graduation, then became a professional musician. In 1992, he opened a recording studio in Annville, Pennsylvania. The company eventually went into CD and DVD manufacturing and duplication.

Political Beginnings[edit]

In 2004, Diamond entered third party politics. He ran simultaneously for the U.S. House of Representatives and the state legislature as a Libertarian Party candidate. He was defeated in both races (receiving 2% and 17% of the vote, respectively).

PACleanSweep[edit]

Russ Diamond at an anti-pay raise rally in front of the Pennsylvania Capitol

In 2005, after members of the state legislature voted themselves a pay raise during a midnight session, Diamond created PACleanSweep.com, a website dedicated to ousting every incumbent legislator in the state. This later spawned an informal grassroots organization, a nonprofit corporation and subsidiary political action committee. PACleanSweep set out to accomplish this by recruiting candidates in every House and Senate district. The group was non-partisan, recruiting candidates of any party. The only requirement was that they sign a pledge to repeal the pay raise that had inspired the group; allow Pennsylvania voters to decide future legislative, executive, and judicial pay raises by referendum; and not pass any legislation put before the state legislature until citizens had been given 10 business days to examine it.[1]

PACleanSweep eventually found candidates for two State Senate districts and 44 State House Districts. On May 16, 2006, the day of the primary election, 35 of the CleanSweep candidates won their primaries. 16 of the winners were running in contested races and 7 of them defeated incumbents.[2]

Accolades and Gubernatorial Run[edit]

PACleanSweep made Diamond known throughout the state, culminating in his being named one of three "Citizens of the Year" by the Philadelphia Inquirer on January 1, 2006.[3]

Diamond later authorized the Draft Russ Diamond political committee, a group aiming to test the viability of his candidacy for office. On April 13, 2006, he announced that he would run for Governor as an Independent.

Diamond advocated abolishing the property tax, funding public education out of general revenues, auditing all government expenditures for efficiency and usefulness, calling a constitutional convention to modernize the state's constitution, repealing legalized slot machines, and "stimulate economic development" by reducing taxes and regulation. He promised to serve only one term and not run for re-election. He selected Tom Lingenfelter, a former Republican state committeeman and Democratic candidate for Congress run with him for Lieutenant Governor.

To qualify for the general election ballot, Diamond needed to collect approximately 67,000 signatures by August 1, 2006, but he informed the media that he had only collected about 38,000.[4]

Personal Controversy[edit]

Diamond has been the subject of much controversy. Many have labeled him a "self-promoter" who used PACleanSweep and the reform movement to enhance his political profile.[5]

A four-time divorcee, Diamond's minor brushes with the law were briefly mentioned in the press during his 2004 campaigns and in 2005-2006. Diamond's elderly father was arrested in 2005, shortly after the creation of PACleanSweep, after a lengthy armed standoff with police.

Schism with PACleanSweep and the Reform Movement[edit]

Critics point to efforts by Diamond to prevent PACleanSweep from searching for gubernatorial candidates as evidence that Diamond planned to seek office from the start.

In March 2006, Diamond attempted to remove five of the ten members of PACleanSweep's Board of Directors. Diamond requested the resignations of all board members, and cut off access to those who refused. Ironically, Diamond continued to operate PACleanSweep, with the assistance of board members who had submitted their resignations, over the protests of many in the reform movement. Diamond would later attempt to add four individuals to the group's board, and then resigned in April 2006 to run for governor.

In April 2006, several members of PACleanSweep's Board of Directors represented by attorney Charles A. Pascal, Jr., sued Diamond for violating nonprofit corporation law and the organization's charter. A Lebanon County judge declared that the four board members Diamond attempted to add were not legal directors of PACleanSweep, and ordered that corporate access and voting rights be returned to the rightful Board of Directors.[6]

Current status[edit]

With PACleanSweep's Board of Directors now divided, Diamond then attempted to change the voting structure by granting himself and Lingenfelter voting rights, despite a unanimously-passed corporate policy that prohibited political candidates from exercising control of the corporation.

When this move failed, Diamond and his supporters attempted to disband the corporation entirely. He was unable to garner even a simple majority for dissolution (the organization's by-laws called for a two-thirds supermajority for such a move).

Diamond and four others then refused to discuss business with the organization's other board members, and filed court papers seeking the involuntary dissolution of corporation. A hearing was held on August 7, 2006 in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where a judge granted the motion to dissolve PACleanSweep. Inc. Diamond continues to operate a website, PACleanSweep.com (which reverted to his control in July 2006), suggesting that the dissolution attempt was simply a means to undermine the clout of Diamond's personal detractors.[7]

Tip of the Spear[edit]

Diamond recently released a book, "Tip of the Spear" detailing how and why he started the PACleanSweep organization, some of the difficulties involved in building a statewide organization in such a short time and the reasons behind his attempted run for governor. Tip of the Spear also provides a blow-by-blow of the post-pay raise era in Pennsylvania Politics.

2008 campaign for the State House[edit]

Diamond challenged Republican incumbent Mauree Gingrich for the 101st district in the 2008 election.[8] On April 22, 2008, he finished second in a three-way Republican primary behind Gingrich with 22.9 percent of the vote.[9]

Candidacy for Lieutenant Governor[edit]

Diamond made a bid for candidacy in the 2010 Lieutenant Governor race. He garnered 4.5% of the votes in the Republican primary.[10]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Russ Diamond at Wikimedia Commons