Toohil: I am no longer woman seen in YouTube photos
Photos in video show state representative around what appears to be pot and bong.
Last Modified: April 16. 2013 3:23PM
BUTLER TWP. – State Rep. Tarah Toohil says she is no longer the young woman who can be seen in a recently posted YouTube video depicting her in compromising photos.
The 28-second video, posted anonymously by someone using a screen name “parepublicans4truth,” starts with a screen that asks viewers “Does PA State Rep. Tarah Toohil believe in traditional Republican values?” The video ends with a slide saying “Pennsylvania Republicans deserve Representatives who share thier (sic) values!!!”
In between, the video shows three photos of Toohil, zeroing in with close-ups on certain items or people’s faces. One image shows what may be a plastic bag of marijuana. Another shows Toohil and another woman at a table nearly kissing. A third shows the two women at a table with what appears to be a bong – a water pipe used for smoking marijuana.
It remains unclear whether the items seen are actually marijuana and drug paraphernalia and, if they are, whether Toohil smoked any. Toohil, who was in Harrisburg Tuesday and Wednesday while the state House was in session and in caucus, did not honor a reporter’s requests for a phone interview made on both of those days.
However, she did film a video response, which she posted on her own YouTube page, and she issued a written statement to the media through her office.
“A negative YouTube video surfaced a few days ago. Over a decade ago, I was one of the young women in some of the photos. However, I am not that young woman today,” said Toohil, 33, of Butler Township. “This is a blatant and personal attack against me as a legislator. If someone wants to degrade me for photos taken many years ago, so be it.”
Toohil said she was speaking out because she felt compelled to address young people who may have seen the video.
“If you think that doing drugs is cool – it’s not. If you think that doing drugs is ok – it’s not. The decisions that you make in life – good or bad – have an impact. Just be careful with the choices that you make,” Toohil said.
A freshman Republican who defeated former Democratic House Majority Leader Todd Eachus in an upset election in 2010, Toohil received help earlier on Wednesday from an unlikely ally, The Luzerne County Democratic Party.
That organization issued its own statement condemning the YouTube video montage:
“The unearthing of formerly private photographs of Tarah Toohil is dirty, nasty politics at its worst. These pictures from her past are not at all relevant to the issues facing Pennsylvanians and the residents of Luzerne County, nor are they in any relevant to, nor reflective of, Rep. Toohil’s job performance today. Whoever peddled these photographs to the media ought to be ashamed of themselves.”
The statement went on to say that the Democratic Party wholeheartedly supports Ransom Young in his bid for Toohil’s seat, “and we do not believe that this non-issue should be a factor in the minds of voters of the 116th District when they go to the polls on November 6th. We condemn the use of ‘below the belt’ campaigning on either side of the aisle, and we wish Representative Toohil the best.”
Asked whether he had anything to do with the release of the photos or YouTube video, Young, a Butler Township supervisor, replied: “Absolutely not.”
“I wouldn’t do something like that. My mother is a Methodist minister; she would disown me,” Young continued. “I would never stoop to that level. That has no place in politics. That is not even politics, as far as I’m concerned.”