Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County in the case of In Re: Nominating Petition of Robert C. Barlip, Candidate for the Office of County Commissioner, District 4 Lehigh County, No. 7-E/1981, dated April 3, 1981.
John R. K. Solt, for appellant.
E. Drummond King, King, McCardle & Herman, for appellee.
John M. Ashcraft, III, Assistant County Solicitor, with him John E. Roberts, Lehigh County Solicitor, for appellee, Election Board of Lehigh County.
Judges Rogers, Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 179]
Robert C. Barlip (appellant), a candidate for the nomination of the Republican Party for the office of Lehigh County Commissioner, appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County which sustained objections to and set aside his nominating petition.
[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 180]
The facts are not in dispute. The appellant filed his petition on March 10, 1981, the last day for filing nominating petitions, and asked to have his name placed on the Republican ballot at the May 1981 primary election for the office of Lehigh County Commissioner. With his petition he filed an affidavit averring that he had complied with Section 4(b) of the Act of October 4, 1978, P.L. 883, 65 P.S. § 404(b) (Ethics Act), which requires that candidates must file a statement of financial interests with the State Ethics Commission prior to the filing of a nominating petition. In fact his statement of financial interests had not been so filed with the State Ethics Commission and was not filed until March 11, 1981. The Lehigh County Republican Committee (Republican Committee), here the appellee, filed timely objections alleging that the nominating petition should be set aside because the accompanying affidavit averring compliance with Section 4(b) of the Ethics Act, 65 P.S. § 404(b), was false. When the court below set the petition aside, this appeal followed.*fn1
The appellant contends that 1) the Republican Committee lacked standing to challenge his nominating petition; 2) the appellee violated Pa. R.C.P. No. 2152 which requires that unincorporated associations must sue in the name of a trustee ad litem and not in their own behalf; and 3) the false affidavit which accompanied the petition was not fatal to it.
We will first consider the issue of the Republican Committee's standing to challenge a candidate's
[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 181]
nominating petition. This is a matter of first impression. Section 977 of the Pennsylvania Election Code,*fn2 25 P.S. § 2937, which outlines the procedure to challenge and set aside a candidate's nominating petition, does not specify those persons who have standing to object to a nominating petition.*fn3 In the absence of a specific provision for standing, therefore, we are guided by the general rules of standing as set forth by the Supreme Court in Wm. Penn Parking Garage, Inc. v. City of Pittsburgh, 464 Pa. 168, 346 A.2d 269 (1975), and the core requirements of these rules are that the complainant must have an interest in the controversy which is greater than the abstract ...