|Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 102nd district
January 6, 2015
|Preceded by||RoseMarie Swanger|
July 26, 1963 |
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 ran for Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor as a Republican in 2010. In 2014, he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, for the 102nd District.
- 1 Personal Background
- 2 Political Beginnings
- 3 PACleanSweep
- 4 Accolades and Gubernatorial Run
- 5 Personal Controversy
- 6 Schism with PACleanSweep and the Reform Movement
- 7 Current status
- 8 Tip of the Spear
- 9 2008 campaign for the State House
- 10 Candidacy for Lieutenant Governor
- 11 2014 Campaign for the State House
- 12 References
- 13 External links
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.
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).
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.
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.
Accolades and Gubernatorial Run
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.
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.
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.
In fall of 2015, Diamond admitted to being an alcoholic after being cited for public intoxication.
Schism with PACleanSweep and the Reform Movement
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.
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.
Tip of the Spear
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
Diamond challenged Republican incumbent Mauree Gingrich for the 101st district in the 2008 election. On April 22, 2008, he finished second in a three-way Republican primary behind Gingrich with 22.9 percent of the vote.
Candidacy for Lieutenant Governor
2014 Campaign for the State House
Diamond successfully ran for the 102nd district after being endorsed by retiring representative RoseMarie Swanger. The campaign was contentious and controversial. Diamond's supporters filed legal challenges against the campaigns of Joe Eisenhauer and Wanda Bechtold. Eisenhauer was removed from the ballot for failing to file a financial statement, while Bechtold's nominating petition was found defective. As a result of these challenges, Diamond was the only candidate on the ballot in the May primary. Unopposed, he won the Republican primary with 56.7 percent of the vote, while Democrat Jake Long won the Democratic primary as a write-in. Diamond won the general election with 45 percent of the vote, defeating Democrat Jake Long, Independent Robert McAteer, and Bechtold, who ran as a write-in candidate.
- "SESSION OF 2015 - 199TH OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY - No. 1" (PDF). Legislative Journal. Pennsylvania House of Representatives. 2015-01-06.
- http://www.meadvilletribune.com/local/local_story_345224728.html Jane Smith, Group attempts to have a challenger for every incumbent in next year’s election Meadville Tribune, 12/11/2005
- Brad Bumsted and Debra Erdley, "Earthquake in Pennsylvania", Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 5/17/2006
- Dickinson College, Alumni in the News, January 2006
- Andrew Conte and Debra Erdley, Diamond Abandons Bid for Governor, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 8/1/2006
- Jeff Hawkes, A Diamond in the Rough Takes on the Status Quo, redorbit.com, 7/10/2006
-  "State court throws out sentence for activist's father"
- Ian Urbina, A Pennsylvania Spoiler Joins Race for Governor, The New York Times, 4/13/2006
- Activist to take shot at 101st, Lebanon Daily News
- 2008 General Primary Tuesday, April 22, 2008 Official Returns Representative in the General Assembly 101st Legislative District By County
- "2010 General Primary, Not Final Unofficial List of Candidates - In Ballot Order". PA Department of State. Bureau of Commissions, Elections & Legislation. 2010-03-19. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-03-20. Retrieved 2010-03-20.
Media related to Russ Diamond at Wikimedia Commons