- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob Guzzardi acknowledged on Wednesday that he did not file a statement of financial interests with the State Ethics Committee on time, a failure that could derail his conservative challenge to GOPGov. Tom Corbett, calling it an oversight.

Testifying at a state Commonwealth Court hearing on a challenge to his nomination petition, Guzzardi said he completed the other prerequisites of running for office, such as filing his petition and the statement of financial interests with the State Department, a day before the March 11 deadline.

But under questioning by attorney Lawrence Tabas, representing Republican Party-backed voters who are challenging his petition, Guzzardi acknowledged that he did not comply with the requirement to also file the financial statement with the ethics panel until eight days after the deadline.

“I should have seen it. It was there to be seen … I made a mistake,” said Guzzardi, an Ardmore businessman.

Tabas, who is also general counsel to the GOP state committee, said a candidate’s failure to file the statement of financial interests with the ethics agency by the filing deadline is considered “a fatal defect” under the state ethics law. He said state courts have repeatedly upheld that strict interpretation.

Two Guzzardi campaign volunteers who drove to Harrisburg with him when he filed his papers on March 10 testified that they knew the financial statement had to be filed with the ethics commission but were confused by State Department officials who were busy processing an avalanche of candidates’ petitions.

Daniel Snyder, of Warrington, said he volunteered to hand-carry the statement across the street to the ethics commission but one official told him the State Department would take care of it. He said he did not discuss the exchange with Guzzardi.

“It wasn’t my place,” Snyder said.

The other volunteer, Jay Russell, said he was “shocked” that the statement was being filed only through the State Department but also did not bring up the subject with Guzzardi.

“I was kind of leaving it up to Dan,” he said.

The hearing is scheduled to continue Thursday.

Guzzardi is an outspoken Corbett critic who says that the incumbent has violated the no-new-taxes pledge he took during his 2010 campaign and that he wants to provide an alternative to Republicans who are disenchanted with his performance.

Much of Wednesday’s session before Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt focused on challenges to several dozen signatures on Guzzardi’s nomination petition.

Candidates for governor must collect at least 2,000 voters’ signatures, including at least 100 from each of 10 counties.

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