These are trying times for Pennsylvania Republicans. They had a very bad midterm election last year, losing four U.S. House seats and doing poorly in Senate and gubernatorial races. Right now, they’re looking down the barrel of 2020 polls that show native son Joe Biden trouncing Donald Trump in the Keystone State despite the president’s heavy dependence on a win there.
At least they’ll now get some new blood in the party leadership thanks to a sexting scandal that has swallowed up state party chairman Val DiGiorgio. Last fall, he allegedly initiated a flirtatious and then sexually explicit Facebook Messenger dialogue with a Republican candidate for Philadelphia City Council, Irina Goldstein, which lasted until this February, when she terminated the communications. She ultimately decided to turn over the whole stack of messages to the Philadelphia Inquirer, including a type of photo DiGiorgio sent of himself that is known by the technical term dick pic. A day later, DiGiorgio resigned. The Inquirer summarized the revelations:
Irina Goldstein says she didn’t immediately recognize the man who sent her a Facebook friend request in October, after she had commented on a group photo that included him …
“I’m running for City Council,” she messaged him, when she realized who he was. “Next time you’re in Philly, I’d be honored to buy you coffee.”
That began a barrage of messages over two days, Goldstein said, that swung from her seeking his advice and support to flirtation and then sexually charged exchanges that included DiGiorgio sending her a photo of an erect penis.
Guess this was DiGiorgio’s idea of speed dating. And while Goldstein seems to have reciprocated the flirting, she eventually grew uncomfortable with it all:
[S]he said she grew embarrassed and unsettled by the exchanges, reviewed by The Inquirer, because she said DiGiorgio had “the upper hand” in their dynamic. They finally stopped communicating in February, after a written exchange in which she told him his messages amounted to him “sexually harassing” her.
It’s not 100 percent clear why she decided to go public; perhaps she had less to lose after finishing seventh in a field of seven in the City Council primary last month. But it seems DiGiorgio may have angered her by trying to shut her up:
Goldstein, 35, also said Michael Schwartz, a former federal prosecutor now representing DiGiorgio as a private attorney, called her last week and proposed that she sign a nondisclosure agreement that would bar her from disparaging DiGiorgio, 51, who is married with children. Schwartz, she said, offered to have DiGiorgio also sign the agreement and told her that keeping their interactions confidential was in her best interest.
“He said my reputation would be ruined,” Goldstein told The Inquirer. “Like [DiGiorgio] was going to do me a favor by not talking about me.”
This would appear to have been the last of a number of miscalculations DiGiorgio made.
A robust competition is already underway to find a replacement for the indiscreet chairman. Some fresh sexual-harassment training should come with the job.