Former Senator Joe Scarnati makes new enterprise growth his new enterprise

It didn’t take Joe Scarnati long to figure out how he’ll fill his days after stepping down from his 20-year lawmaker career on November 30th.

The now former Pennsylvania Senate President pro tempore will partner with Allegheny Strategy Partners, a business development and public advocacy company with offices in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scarnati’s hometown of Brockway, Jefferson County.

The firm was founded in November by a prominent Pittsburgh attorney, Nick Varischetti, whose family is a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Tommy Johnson, who recently served as Vice President of CONSOL Energy and CNX Resources.

Scarnati served his final 14 years in the Senate as senior chairman of the Republican majority caucus and three years as lieutenant governor following the death of Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll. His years of service in the public service are seen as an asset to the company, which specializes in business formation and advocacy for existing businesses.

“Joe Scarnati’s experience navigating the highest levels of government is second to none,” said Johnson, general manager of ASP, in a press release announcing the hiring. “He brings a deep understanding of business and government that strengthens our team’s ability to deliver for our customers.”

“Sen. Scarnati’s experience positions him perfectly as a consultant who can focus on economic growth through business and job creation, ”said Varischetti, the company’s founding partner.

Prior to his election to the Senate, Scarnati helped run his family’s restaurant and was a member of the Brockway Borough Council. More recently, he bought the Dan Smith Candy Company, which makes and sells candy, chocolates, and other specialties in five stores in western Pennsylvania.

He announced last February that he would leave the Senate at the end of the legislature. At the time, Scarnati said the decision was “personal, not political” and at that point he just wanted to spend more time on business and more time with his family.

By the time he graduated from the Senate, Scarnati became a partner in a series of investigations with PennLives’ partner Spotlight PA and its close relationship with Harrisburg lobbying firm Long Nyquist, in which former Scarnati adviser Todd Nyquist is a partner, along with former Pennsylvania Senate employee Michael Long .

Regarding the former, Scarnati said he had adhered to the philosophy that whatever approached the campaign would be charged to the campaign instead of the taxpayer. Regarding the latter, he said Long Nyquist had received no special consideration and that he and his staff had strictly adhered to the laws on conflicts of interest in Pennsylvania.

As he transitioned to his new venture in the private sector, Scarnati said in the press release, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join two people I know and trust as they build something from the ground up. There is no question that the advocacy landscape is changing. This team’s approach coupled with the talent gathered makes this company a leader. “

State ethics law prohibits Scarnati from doing business with the Senate for a year after he left office.

Jan Murphy can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @JanMurphy.

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