For Bob Casey's Lobbyist Brother-in-Law, the Senator's Door Is Always Open

Sen. Bob Casey (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
April 25, 2024

As Pennsylvania state auditor, Bob Casey disclosed to state ethics officials that his relationship with his lobbyist brother-in-law could be "perceived to constitute a conflict of interest." More than two decades later, Casey has opened his Senate office to one of that brother-in-law’s clients.

Patrick Brier, Casey’s brother-in-law, began lobbying for the Rehabilitation and Care Providers Association (RCPA) in 2015 through his consulting firm, Brier Dlugolecki Strategies. Since then, Casey, the chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, has introduced several bills supported by the group and appeared at events sponsored by the organization, which has showered the senator with praise and awards.

Casey, who faces his toughest reelection campaign this year has faced scrutiny over his family’s business dealings. The Democrat tapped a partner at his younger brother Matt’s personal injury firm to help select federal judicial nominees. The firm, Ross Feller Casey, has contributed more than $220,000 to Casey’s campaign. Another sibling, Patrick Casey, is a lobbyist at Dentons LLC, which recently began lobbying for a blacklisted Chinese tech firm, an issue of pertinence to Casey’s role on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Casey’s campaign has paid his sister’s printing company $500,000 over the past decade.

Casey’s alliance with the RCPA, which represents 400 rehab and disability facilities in the Keystone State, was highlighted in 2022 when the group issued a "thank you" letter to Casey for his "steadfast leadership" in promoting two bills backed by RCPA and its members. Casey has appeared at events for the organization, and was awarded its "legislative leadership award" in 2016, given to lawmakers who support legislative issues "on behalf of RCPA and its members."

A top aide to Casey, Michael Gamel-McCormick, spoke at RCPA’s annual meeting in 2019 and met with RCPA and its members in 2020 for a discussion on "federal health-care-related issues critical to RCPA members."

Brier Dlugolecki, which started lobbying for RCPA in 2015, also sponsors fundraisers for RCPA’s political action committee, which aims to build "key relationships in both state and federal government with lawmakers who are supportive of our members’ interests."

Casey’s links to Brier, his campaign manager for the 1996 state auditor race, have raised ethics concerns before.

In 1998, Casey conducted an audit of Pennsylvania nursing homes and found dozens were mismanaging finances. One of the commonwealth’s worst offenders, Valley Crest, was largely spared in the report even though federal investigators later found it overbilled Medicare by $2 million. Brier, then at the firm Stevens & Lee, was a lobbyist for Valley Crest and negotiated with Medicare on behalf of the nursing home, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reported. One Democratic county official suggested Brier’s firm was hired because of his ties to Casey, and said Brier should not have been involved in the negotiations because he was "too connected."

Last year, Casey steered a $200,000 grant to Maternal & Family Health Services, a nonprofit that hired Brier as a lobbyist in 2021, the news outlet Broad + Liberty reported. Casey held roundtable events with Maternal & Family Health Services in 2022.

Casey is not required to disclose potential conflicts of interest with family members. Federal regulations prohibit senators from allowing staffers to meet with immediate family members who are lobbyists, though it is not clear whether that would apply to a senator’s in-laws.

Brier did not respond to a request for comment. But he said last year he "does not engage in any federal lobbying work whatsoever." Casey, whose office did not respond to comment requests, said in 2002, amid questions about his state auditor work, that he "avoids conversations" with his brother-in-law about government work.

Casey noted at the time that he submitted ethics filings from 1996 to 2000 that disclosed that his family ties to Brier were an "affiliation (that) could reasonably be perceived to constitute a conflict of interest," the Times Leader reported.

Brier has touted his work for federal candidates. His biography at his law firm, Myers Brier Kelly, says he "counsels numerous federal, state and local candidates" on campaign fundraising issues.

RCPA is keenly interested in lobbying on federal issues. It tracks federal legislation related to the rehabilitation clinic industry. Its political action committee encourages support from members in order to "achieve greater political potency for our provider members." The trade group did not respond to a request for comment.

Brier has contributed $22,000 to Casey’s campaign and affiliated political action committees since 2009. His partner, Paul Dlugolecki, has contributed $3,000 to Casey since last year. Richard Edley, the chief executive of RCPA, contributed $4,950 to Casey’s campaign and PAC, according to campaign finance records.