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|Member of the
Republican National Committee
November 18, 1998
Serving with Christine Toretti
|Preceded by||Tim Lambert|
|Chairman of the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania|
June 18, 1983 – February 8, 1986
|Preceded by||Martha Bell Schoeninger|
|Succeeded by||Earl Baker|
|Born||September 7, 1937|
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania|
Robert B. "Bob" Asher (born September 7, 1937) is an American political figure, businessman and convicted felon from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He is the Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Asher’s Chocolates in Pennsylvania and also serves as Pennsylvania's committeeman on the Republican National Committee. He was appointed to that position in 1998 by Governor Tom Ridge.
Asher graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. He is the co-chairman of the Board of Directors of Asher's Chocolates, which his family has owned for four generations.
He has held several positions in the Pennsylvania Republican Party and local elected offices, including:
- Commissioner of Springfield Township, Montgomery County, from 1968 through 1971.
- Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Committee 1978-86
- Delegate, Republican National Convention, Detroit 1980 and Dallas 1984
- State Chairman for Governor Dick Thornburgh’s re-election campaign in 1982
While chairman of the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania Asher was convicted of perjury, racketeering, conspiracy and bribery in connection with a state contract award. He resigned after the conviction and served one year in federal prison. The case gained national attention in 1987 when his co-defendant in that case and political ally, Pennsylvania State Treasurer Budd Dwyer, committed suicide on television just before sentencing.
Return to politics
Asher eventually returned to politics though he was not welcomed back in his home Montgomery County. To re-establish himself, in his first political move after being released from prison, Asher helped defeat the endorsed incumbent county commissioners in Montgomery County Paul Bartle and Flo Bloss in a primary election with Jon Fox and Mario Mele. Mele then spurned the GOP and made a power sharing pact with the Democrat Joe Hoeffel. The primary election between incumbents Bartle and Bloss, and Asher-recruited Mele and Fox in 1991 ignited a civil war in Montgomery County which rages even to this day and is often cited for the dysfunction of the Montgomery County Republican Party. Asher and was appointed Pennsylvania's Republican National Committeeman in 1998. By 2004, Asher, despite not being a candidate for office, was becoming an issue in GOP campaigns. That year, a developing feud between him and then Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor spilled over into the campaign. After initially recruiting Castor to run for the position of Pennsylvania Attorney General, Asher moved to support former United States Attorney Tom Corbett. Castor claimed that this was retaliation for Asher's failed attempt to gain a seat on the board of SEPTA, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Castor worked to deny Asher the appointment due to a state law which has been used to deny political positions to individuals with felony convictions. The resulting campaign turned bitter with charges from Castor that Corbett's primary supporter was someone who had been convicted of bribery.
Asher and Castor again found themselves at odds with each other over the 2007 Montgomery County Commissioners race. After a contentious race for the nomination, Castor and incumbent Jim Matthews were selected as nominees. Castor refused to accept money from Asher. As a result, Matthews organized his own campaign fund to which Asher contributed. This support let to criticism of Matthews by Republicans, Democrats and his own running mate, Castor. All Montgomery County Republican politics is affected by the civil war which still rages with the factions being headed by Asher on the one side, and first long time GOP County Chair Frank Bartle and now former DA and current Commissioner Bruce Castor on the other. In a move reminiscent of 1991, Asher-backed County Commissioner Jim Matthews made a power sharing pact with (again) Democrat Joe Hoeffel to block Commissioner Castor from power.
Despite the controversy, Asher has commented he has paid his debt to society following his conviction and has supported a number of Republican candidates over the years. He went on to chair Tom Corbett's successful campaign for governor in 2010.
Asher was named to the PoliticsPA list of "Pennsylvania's Top Political Activists." The Pennsylvania Report named him to the 2003 "The Pennsylvania Report Power 75" list of influential figures in Pennsylvania politics and noted that he has the ability to put "a big bankroll behind his favorite candidates." The Pennsylvania Report's 2009 "The Pennsylvania Report 100" and noted that as a "veteran fund-raiser and kingmaker," Asher was "One, if not the, top power player in the state GOP."
- "Mr. Robert B. Asher". PA State Party Leadership. The Republican Party of Pennsylvania. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
- The Philadelphia Inquirer
- The Philadelphia Inquirer
- PA GOP Committee bio Accessed 2008-2-23
- "Power 50". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2003. Archived from the original on 2004-04-17.
- "Sy Snyder's Power 50". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-04-21.
- Mary F. Patel, Castor Roiled, Philadelphia City Paper, 1/22-28/2004 Accessed 2007-12-03
- Margaret Gibbons (2007-09-24). "Dems want Asher money returned". Pottstown Mercury.
- Avni Patel and Richard Esposito, Out of Spotlight, Giuliani Embraces Convicted Moneyman, ABC News, 27 November 2007
- "Pennsylvania's Top Political Activists". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-11-13.
- "The PA Report "Power 75" List" (PDF). Pennsylvania Report. Capital Growth, Inc. January 31, 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-20.
- "PA Report 100". Pennsylvania Report. Capital Growth, Inc. January 23, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-14.