Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
A Captain Renault post: Our sources On The Hill and inside the Capitol Bldg. tell us that Gov. Rendell's long-time Secretary of Legislative Affairs Steve Crawford was recently, officially, and formally offered the job of "Chief of Staff to the Democratic Caucus". The word from Caucus and Governor staff insiders is that Crawford said "no" to the job offer and is staying with Rendell.
We're not sure if Crawford's decision to turn the job down is a vote of "no confidence" in the House Democrat Caucus or a vote of "confidence" in lame duck Rendell and his last two year legislative session.
Our sources tell us Crawford met with the new House Democrat Triumvirate -- McCall, Eachus, and Evans -- and they asked him to take the job. He said no.
If Crawford serves out his two years with the Rendell administration he will be the longest serving Secretary of Legislative Affairs in anyone's recent memory.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
We're glad someone in the Main Stream Media is finally doing at least some reporting on the partisan and selective nature of Corbett's Bonusgate investigation. We reported on this specific selective and partisan part of Corbett's investigation way back in October. Read our post again here. We hope more reporters start paying attention to how Corbett has abused the justice system in PA.
As you can see in our October post and in this document, House Republican members collected hundreds of per diems while also paying out tens of thousands of taxpayers dollars for meals on the same day. According to Corbett and the articles published since the July Bonusgate indictments, Democrat Veon was indicted for the exact same thing dozens of House Republicans did on a routine basis. We have no idea whether or not any of this activity is illegal and we certainly aren't defending Veon on this blog. If he was wrong he should pay the price.
What we have dedicated our time and effort to over the last few months is to point out Corbett's hypocrisy, double standards, and partisan use of the immense power of the Attorney General office. We were motivated by what we saw Alberto Gonzales do to the US Justice system. Too few people in the media paid attention to what Gonzales and his partisan staff were doing until it was too late.
If Veon was wrong then so are the dozens of House Republicans who did the exact same thing -- and as our research has shown on the exact same days for the actions Veon was indicted on! Corbett should be forced by law and public outcry to apply the law to both parties in the same way. The arrogance and partisanship by Corbett and his crew is in full display in this part of Bumstead's column:
Some suggest that going after Veon on the meals is selective prosecution by Attorney General Tom Corbett.
No way, his office says. He just followed the evidence.
"During the course of our investigation, we developed evidence related to Veon's basketball dinners," said Kevin Harley, spokesman for Corbett. "That evidence was referred to a grand jury. It will be up to a jury to determine whether that is misappropriating tax money. I can't really comment on the others. The evidence was uncovered in our investigation of Veon."
It's a typical statement from the arrogant spokesman/political operative Harley. The "evidence" on the Republicans is in full view. But you aren't going to see it if you close your eyes and don't even investigate the Republicans.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
PA Governor's (and other state officials) have long had the ability to award lucrative contracts and legal work to preferred firms without the need to bid the work out. These no-bid contracts have very often been awarded to generous campaign contributors and have been PA's version of pay-to-play for a long time.
Below is an excerpt from the court action. In polite, but strong, legal language it sure looks like an accusation of pay-to-play to me.
"Indeed, the role of the Governor's General Counsel in the retention of Bailey Perrin, the timing and amounts of Mr. Bailey's campaign contributions the terms of the contingent fee agreement, and the involvement of Bailey Perrin in other Risperdal-related litigation that might be affected by this lawsuit combined to give rise to a manifest appearance of impropriety -- the impression that the government's prosecutorial decisions have already been infected by impermissible considerations."
By the way, our research has shown that Attorney General and Space Cadet Tom Corbett has often used outside law firms to do work that many believe should be done in-house. We are doing some additional research to determine how many of those firms are also big campaign contributors to Corbett. Given Corbett's always high level of hypocrisy, we expect to find quite a few contributors who just so happened to get lots of legal work. We will report our findings here of course.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
It is illegal for the AG and his staff to leak secret grand jury information to the press. Illegal -- as in against the law. And as in the law Corbett is sworn to uphold. Last week, in an astounding coincidence, both the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and the Philadelphia Inquirer published articles on the same day with leaks from Corbett's office. Read the articles here and here for yourself.
Last week's leaks by Corbett's staff were so blatant that Corbett himself felt compelled to disingenuously assure the public that the leaks did not come from his office. In an article in the Indiana Gazette published last weekend Corbett provides lots of drivel and pious comments about the sanctity of the secret grand jury process. His comments in the article reach a new high for hypocrisy and double talk -- even for Corbett.
The best line in his speech is this: "So when you see stories out there, I'm reasonably assured that they didn't come from my staff."
I will again point out that is is illegal for the AG and his staff to leak secret grand jury information. It is a crime. And now we know Corbett is "reasonably assured" his staff did not break the law. The top law enforcement officer in our state is "reasonably assured" that is own staff is not committing criminal acts. How comforting.
What we really need is a grand jury to "reasonably assure" the public that the top law enforcers aren't breaking the law.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
It is of course illegal for the Attorney General or his staff to leak any information from a secret grand jury proceeding. But that doesn't appear to have stopped Corbett and his staff from doing just that since the beginning of this investigation. Time and time again articles appear in papers throughout the state outlining what the grand jury is investigating, and how smart Corbett is and how hard he is working to bring the corrupt legislature to justice. Corbett and his spokesman/political operator Kevin Harley always trot out the usual direct quotes in each article explaining that they "can't comment on an ongoing investigation" -- yada, yada, yada. In the meantime, each article has the kind of insight and details that only could come from inside the grand jury and the AG's office.
Last week Corbett and his crew were just a bit too cute by half because their leaks were reported in the state's two largest newspapers on the same day! What a coincidence that both papers would have the same story about secret grand jury proceedings on the exact same day. And what a coincidence that both stories made it look like Corbett was "getting tough" with the House Republicans because they are stonewalling his investigation.
Both the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and the Philadelphia Inquirer published their stories about Corbett going to the Grand Jury Judge to force the House Republicans to comply with issued subpoenas. What are the odds that two reporters who have been covering the Bonusgate story for many months would just happen to come across the same information on the same day and write essentially the same story. Corbett continues to be a master hypocrite -- illegally leaking material to reporters while prosecuting alleged illegalities in the legislature.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Read the entire epistle here. It is enlightening and on target.
Corbett has bungled the Bonusgate investigation so bad he now has to beg a judge to make the Republicans comply with subpoenas. What a disgrace. Corbett spent all of his time investigating the House Democrats, indicted Democrats before the election, and now has been walking backwards rapidly on whether or not he will charge Republicans.
In the meantime, the House Republicans took the cue from Corbett and destroyed all of the hard drives before Corbett could politely and belatedly ask for them. Corbett has reaped what he sowed.
In an even more amazing and hypocritical example of Corbett's best use of his double standard two-step, Corbett has yet to even lay a glove on the Senate Republicans. this is despite the fact that the Senate Rs had issued some of the largest bonuses to staff who were widely known to be very politically active.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Corbett spent 18 months investigating the House Democrats while ignoring similar allegations against the House Republicans and indicted 12 Democrats before the election. Corbett made sure there "wasn't enough time" to fully investigate or indict Republicans before the election. As I have posted here many times in the past, Corbett's actions were used to great advantage by the Republicans in the election against Democrats throughout the state.
Now that Corbett has been backed into a corner and has to at least appear to be "investigating" the Republicans, the House Republicans return the favor by fighting Corbett and stonewalling his investigation. According to several reports in newspapers across the state, Corbett had to go to court to "force" the Republicans to honor the grand jury subpoenas served on the House Republicans. If this matter wasn't so serious it would be funny. Corbett spent all of his time looking at the Democrats while making sure the Republicans knew what was happening and giving them lots of time to make sure there wasn't much "evidence" around once Corbett got around to going though the motions of investigating them. There were even reports in the media this past summer of the House Republicans replacing and destroying their computer hard drives right in the middle of of the ongoing grand jury process. It seemed very blatant at the time but Corbett didn't seem to react at all to that bombshell.
So while the Democrats allegedly were shredding a few boxes of material, the House Republicans were replacing and destroying all of their hard drives. And Corbett now wonders why he can't find enough evidence on the Republicans?
Many rational observers have said Corbett was conducting a mismanaged investigation from the start by spending all of his time on the Democrats while giving the Republicans a pass for so long. Even to this date, there is no indication of any action by Corbett towards the Senate Republicans. The Senate Republican staff had some of the biggest bonuses awarded and were known in the Capitol to be very politically active -- and yet to date NOTHING from Corbett about them.
Looks like the Senate Rs are telling Corbet to get lost too.
Friday, December 5, 2008
In the meantime, I noticed a pitiful and pathetic letter to the editor that DeWeese sent to the Hazelton Standard-Speaker. DeWeese's letter looks like a child's effort to be noticed and was in response to an editorial the Standard Speaker published recently. The Standard-Speaker editorial encouraged incoming Speaker Keith McCall and Todd Eachus to break with the past and bring some needed reforms to the legislature. The editorial also bemoaned the fact that the Democrat Caucus elected DeWeese to any leadership position.
If Eachus really does decisively take the reins of power in his caucus, it will be fun to watch DeWeese stomp his feet in the months ahead in a vain but useless attempt to have anyone care about anything he says or does.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Well from the news reports today it looks like the new Majority Leader Todd Eachus responded to DeWeese's wink with a big foot on his neck.
Eachus has hired Attorney Chris Casey of the famous PA Casey clan to "conduct a full scale review of House operations...". In this Standard - Speaker article Eachus seems to be making it clear that he is in charge of the caucus. Although he doesn't mention DeWeese by name in the various articles today, he goes out of his way to describe the changes he wants to make after "14 years of the same leadership".
From what I can tell form the emails we get here and the staff chatter on the Hill and in the street, many are holding their breath waiting to find out if there is going to be a power struggle between DeWeese and Eachus or if Eachus will in fact be in charge and in control of all aspects of the Democrat caucus.
With his selection of Casey as "outside counsel" and his very strong and public comments today in the press, it looks like Eachus isn't going to take his foot off of DeWeese's neck anytime soon.
Monday, December 1, 2008
In my earlier post today I reported on a meeting Bill DeWeese had 2 weeks ago with senior Democrat caucus staff. I received several emailed tips about the meeting and tracked down a couple of staff people who spoke to us off the record. All of the sources told us similar things about the meeting and one called it "a typical weird BS performance by DeWeese...most of the staff were just rolling their eyes".
What I found to be very interesting was how one source described DeWeese's "speech". From one of the emailed tips:
"DeWeese basically told us the new leadership was a "team" and that he would be "very involved" in making decisions about the staff and everything else. He said it with a wink. Whatever that means. Then he told us we were all "safe" and that there would be "no changes" in the staff. Hell, we want changes. And we thought we were going to get a change from DeWeese to McCall and Eachus. It was very disappointing and disheartening to listen to DeWeese act and talk like he is still in charge."
Is crazy DeWeese still running the show despite his demotion? I wonder why Eachus and McCall weren't part of that meeting? Is all of the DeWeese staff "safe"? And "safe" from what? And what does all of this mean for the larger Democrat majority and Ed Rendell's agenda in the upcoming session? What does it mean for Corbett's investigation of DeWeese and the Democrats?
From what I can see and hear, from on the hill and in the street, Democrats both inside and outside the Capitol building are hoping this DeWeese "speech" to the staff is just more of his craziness and that someone will put a muzzle on that guy. Most Democrat activists around the state seemed to be hopeful that DeWeese would at best join his colleague John Perzel as a back-bencher in the legislature. But unfortunately that did not happen. DeWeese is an embarrassment. But from all of the reports I've read in newspapers across the state, the guy seems to have no shame. And THAT is a shame.
Will bring more tips and tidbits in future posts in our new HEARD ON THE HILL - AND IN THE STREET feature.
SEC. STEVE CRAWFORD TO MAKE A MOVE? One of the latest hot tidbits and tips from some Capitol insiders has the Governor's Sec. of Legislative Affairs, Steve Crawford, under active consideration for a top post with the incoming new Democrat Leadership in the House -- either with Soon-to-be-Speaker Keith McCall or Majority Leader Todd Eachus. We aren't sure if they are pursuing Crawford or if Crawford is pursuing a new assignment but it sounds like either way there's lots of chatter about it.
DEWEESE IS CRAZY. BUT IS HE STILL RUNNING THE SHOW? Speaking of the new Democrat Leadership and tips from insiders, we will post some observations from some staff who attended a strange and weird meeting last week with Bill DeWeese. These staff left the meeting shaking their heads for lots of reasons and wondering if DeWeese was still in charge of the Democrat Caucus staff operation. He seemed to imply just that at the meeting. We wonder how Eachus feels about that? Or is he in on it?
Will post some more details soon with some interesting observations from staff who claim to have been at the meeting and emailed some tips to me about the things DeWeese discussed.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
We're back on Dec 1.
Monday, November 24, 2008
An Ugarte post:
A friend asked me to post this recent email to the House Democratic caucus. Again, this person comes up with some great documents that appear to be in plain sight for anyone to see...if they would just look.
This morning's Philadelphia Inquirer editorial is the latest in a series of stories and editorials imploring the Pennsylvania Legislature to tighten its belt in an effort to mitigate the pain from a budge hole that will be measured in the billions…that's right, the "illions" with a "b." (Philadelphia Inquirer 11/24/08)
In fact, Lt. Governor/Pro Tempore Scarnati is putting your latest COLA in jeopardy by putting the possibility of repealing it on the table as a cost cutting measure. (Post Gazette 11/21/08)
A current legislative employee you should demand be cut loose from the taxpayers' trough would be glaringly obvious to you if Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett was actually conducting a balanced investigation into the activities of the state legislature instead of the hyper-partisan farce he's foisted upon the Commonwealth to date.
You've all read the Harrisburg grand jury presentment from July of this year, so you'll remember Corbett bringing two felony charges against Jeff Foreman for allegedly doing legal work for his law firm while at his desk supposedly on Democratic caucus time.
If Corbett were truly examining the State House GOP as closely as he has the Democrats, in addition to Jeff Foreman's alleged activity, Corbett would also have revealed to you the billing practices of the highest paid state legislative employee in the history of the Commonwealth – Brett Feese.
Feese earns $197,000 a year as chief counsel to the House Republican caucus. (Inquirer 12/17/07)
That is more than any two rank and file legislators combined, more than the Speaker of the House and more than the Governor. If his contract is renewed on December 1st, his cost of living increase will put him over $200,000 in yearly earnings! (Inquirer 10/21/07)
At that salary, Feese should have lots of legal work to do for the House GOP. Sam Smith has even said that paying Feese as a full-time employee at such an exorbitant rate was due to the tremendous amount of legal work to be done for the House Republican Caucus:
"If this didn't prove out and Brett was sitting on his rear with his feet on the table . . . we would be failing at our ultimate goal of savings, but clearly at this point the record indicates we are saving money." (Inquirer 10/21/07)
Feese certainly isn't sitting on his rear with his feet on the table. However, as a full-time caucus employee, he isn't working just for the Republican caucus.
While Feese is supposedly working full-time at a $200,000 a year clip for the House Republican caucus, he is also billing over a dozen municipalities and school districts for work he does as their solicitor. Check it out for yourself.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Feese is the solicitor for:
Duboistown, Eagles Mere, Laporte, Lewis, Mongtomery, Moreland, Muncy Creek, Penn, Picture Rocks, Plunketts Creek, Shrewsbury in Lycoming County, Shrewsbury in Sullivan County, Washington and Wolf.
If that isn't enough extra work for Feese, he is also the solicitor for the Montgomery Area and East Lycoming school districts.
If Feese can be so blatant in representing public entities, how much work is Feese doing for private clients?
How much work is Feese actually doing for the taxpayers of Pennsylvania?
This is yet another example of partisan Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett bringing charges against a Democrat while ignoring the exact same behavior by a Republican!
Feese's salary should be cut dramatically if he has time to work on both House legislative issues and represent multiple local governments, not to mention dozens and dozens of private clients.
And, you should demand that Corbett investigate Feese's billing practices just as aggressively as he has House Democratic staff members like Jeff Foreman.
The one-sided nature of Corbett's investigation is outrageous. Demand that Corbett stop this charade and bring balance to what is clearly a calculated partisan witch hunt against Democrats.
A truly impartial investigation might actually help taxpayers save millions. The $200,000 per year to Feese is a great place to start!
Friday, November 21, 2008
But the clock is ticking on Corbett and that clock chime will be louder and louder the longer Corbett tries to go without charging Republicans for conduct that is clearly the same or very similar to that of the indicted Democrats (read my previous posts on that subject).
But hope springs eternal and today the Pocono Record published an editorial that is the first post-election editorial that tries to hold Corbett accountable. Here is an interesting excerpt from the editorial:
"...Mr. Corbett says his investigators went after Democrats first because they got a tip that computer records with incriminating information were being destroyed by the Democratic caucus.
Similar campaign work on government time was performed by Republican staffers, many contend, but the Republicans were cunning enough to destroy their computer records (by converting to a new system) before they could be seized. Yet such alleged abuses by the GOP, including campaign materials on Republican officials' work servers, were widely documented and reported on in a 2007 Philadelphia newspaper story. There might be other paper trails, as well.
Democrats allege that Corbett has no incentive to investigate fellow Republicans, particularly as he mulls a possible 2010 run for governor and tries to strengthen his case for winning his party's nomination."
Kudos to the Pocono Record for keeping a very skeptical eye on Corbett. If only the rest of the MSM would be as observant. As I have said here many times, because the MSM media ignored the early warnings from bloggers and other sources, Alberto Gonzales and his staff were able to make the US Justice Department their own political operation to benefit Republicans.
You can't say we didn't warn you.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The Democrats made the decision to give DeWeese a slight demotion from Leader to Whip but made sure the ratings will continue to be high. Reporters and editorial writers who love to cover and opine about chaos in the House Democrat caucus will still have lots of material to use. Republicans, who successfully hammered some incumbent House Democrats into submission and defeat in the election using DeWeese's antics as ammunition, will still have DeWeese to hang around the necks of more Democrats for a while longer. Reading through some articles on DeWeese over the weekend I was reminded that DeWeese was a walking and talking soap opera before there was a Bonusgate investigation. Now he is a like an aging, diminished soap star they just can't quite write out of the script yet.
Democratic activists all over the state are no doubt disappointed that this show was not yanked from the lineup -- and Republicans have to be thrilled.
Speaking of Republicans, it looks like the House Republicans wisely and finally retired their own retread soap star. Speaker Emeritus John Perzel looked foolish as he mounted a weak challenge against Sam Smith for Republican Minority Leader. I wonder if all of those big contributors to Perzel will ask for their money back now. After all, the word was that Perzel promised them he would soon be back in charge and the big man on campus again after the November election. The House Republicans may be in the minority by a few votes but they sure know how to give the hook when someone is doing far more damage than any good for the members of their caucus.
The hot rumor is that Speaker Emeritus Perzel may just become plain old Representative Emeritus by resigning from his seat now that he has been roundly rejected by the members in his Republican caucus.
More commentary on the leadership elections coming soon....
Monday, November 17, 2008
A Captain Renault post: There was an interesting article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday regarding John Perzel's and the House Republicans' massive expenditures for database and data mining services over the last 6 years. The article points out that Perzel and the Republicans spent well over $9 million of taxpayers money on a contract with a New Orleans based firm for, among other services, "voter registration information, voting history, and voting effectiveness for all registered voters within each district." It's not hard to imagine what the House Republicans would do with this voter information collected on the taxpayers dime.
Of course, Perzel and the rest of the Republicans deny that this data contract had anything to do with campaigning, campaign work, or any political use whatsoever. I don't know about you, but mark me down as skeptical -- with a capital S. According to all of the published reports I've read, this $9 million contract was considerably more than anything the House Democrats spent on data services. Not surprisingly, in addition to the taxpayer paid contract, the New Orleans based firm simultaneously had a contract with the House Republican Campaign Committee and the John Perzel Re-election Committee to provide amazingly similar services. Just a coincidence I am sure. The last time I checked, some House Democrats got indicted for allegedly mixing taxpayer paid computer services with campaign activities. I can't wait to see how Corbett explains not indicting any Republicans for conduct and contracts demonstrably similar to those of the House Democrats.
Also of interest, the data contract reported on in the Inquirer article is on top of a more than $2 million contract Perzel and the Republicans had for years with a political/campaign technology company called Aristotle. Look it up for yourself and you can see that this company provides political and campaign data and technology services for campaigns all over the country. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported in September on the grand jury investigation of this Republican Aristotle contract. According to that article, the language in the Aristotle contract contained blatant language describing the political use of the data collected. Here is an excerpt from the taxpayer paid contract according to the PPG:
"The amendment, signed by J. Anthony Painter, then director of Republican Information Technologies and later an official with Aristotle, calls for each House district in Pennsylvania to be created as a database "populated by data provided by the caucus" and available to caucus staff.
"The caucus will provide the necessary staff to provide for the proper editing of the address lists for all districts so that all districts will be properly loaded and ready for use in the elections," the amendment reads."
So there's another one for Corbett and Perzel to explain when no indictments are handed down. That should be very interesting.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Most of your staff has been subpoenaed. Bill DeWeese gave partisan Attorney General Tom Corbett even more of your emails and documents then Corbett asked for putting you needlessly at risk. During many of your campaigns, your opponents tarred you with even the most circumstantial connection to the bonusgate investigation.
Demand some balance!
But, don't expect it to come from Corbett easily. He won his re-election and now he is completely focused on winning the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination. In fact, he zoomed immediately down to the Republican Governor's Association meeting in Miami. (PolitickerPA 11/12/08)
Corbett's strategy for winning the GOP nomination doesn't include indicting Republican legislators who have contributed hundreds of thousands to his campaigns in the past and whose cash will be needed in the future.
You know there is a strong possibility Corbett will never arrest any Republicans, and it is clear that he certainly has no intention of indicting anywhere near as many Republicans as he did Democrats in July.
Corbett's excuse will be quite simple…the evidence isn't there to follow. Why? Because all the Republican caucus servers and hard drives have been destroyed. The Republicans have admitted as much, and, in fact, this destruction was done with Corbett's complete knowledge -- "The attorney general's investigators were consulted about the changeover of computers, Miskin said." (Tribune Review, 10/16/08)
Don't despair! There is still hope for balance because the House Republicans haven't been able to destroy all the evidence of campaign activity in the House Republican Caucus over the years.
Everyone saw the campaign material on the House Republican servers back in February of 2007. It was widely documented and reported on. ("A tangled web at state house," Inquirer, 2/18/07)
Just this week you saw where John Perzel's district and Harrisburg offices were working closely with political consultants Don Raymond and Joseph Carduff. Capitolwire posted fax confirmation sheets showing how caucus resources and caucus staff were used for political purposes. (Capitolwire, 11/11/08)
You can see the proof at this link here. Paul Towhey and Maureen Popp are Republican Caucus employees.
Don't forget how Rep. Jim Marshall had Judy Jehu, a Republican Caucus employee and bonus receipient, notarize his campaign finance report during the work day. You can see Jehu's handiwork at this link here.
You should demand that Corbett subpoena Towhey, Popp and Jehu and force them to tell a grand jury about all the political campaigning they've done!
Some of the most egregious evidence of Republican campaigning in the State Capitol can be found by looking closely at campaign finance reports. Fortunately, they are stored safely at the Department of State, otherwise I'm sure the House Republicans would have burned them with a wink and a nod from Corbett just like they destroyed the Republican hard drives together.
Here are a few links to examples of Rep. Rick Geist sending contributions to the HRCC to a Republican caucus staff person in the Capitol in 2004 and 2007. Geist has been around a very long time and apparently has been moving money through the Capitol for just as long.
It is likely Schmedlen handled this check from Rep. David Millard in 2006, too.
I got a big kick out of reading this statement from that battle ax Rep. Katie True about the bonusgate investigation:
"It is sad for all of us trying to do the right thing." (Lancaster New Era 7/11/08)
Poor Rep. Nick Micozzie. The "old grey mare ain't what she used to be" and he doesn't know that these very large donations in 2004, 2005 and 2007 should have been to the HRCC, not HRRC. I'll bet the House Republican staff person in the State Capitol these were sent to made sure that the bank cashed the checks anyway.
It is shocking to see how much money to the HRCC Rep. Tom Killion sent to the State Capitol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 checks to some Republican caucus staff person rounding up donations for the HRCC.
Killion sent checks in March and July of 2004 to former Rep. Melissa Murphy Weber's campaign office doubling as her official district office. The esteemed Committee of Seventy wouldn't lie about that. Here is the address they had for her District Office…the same one as where Killion sent his checks.
Killion didn't just send money to other suburban Philly legislators. Rep. Dave Reed must have asked him to send this contribution to his brand new office in Indiana. Here is a story about how proud Reed is of his new digs.
You should demand that Corbett follow-up on these contributions and these HRCC retreats! This is evidence that has not been destroyed by the House Republican caucus. Where there is smoke there is fire! How many other Republican members where using their caucus staff to send and receive contributions?
Retiring Rep. Steve Nichol admits that there was campaiging by Republican staff in district offices and in the Capitol. (Lebanon Daily News 7/20/08)
Make sure Corbett aggressively pursue Republicans!
Be sure that Corbett checks into the Senate Republican caucus, too. Newly minted Lt. Governor Joseph Scarnati had a habit of sending contributions to the SRCC and campaign workers in the Capitol.
Demand balance from Corbett!
Whoever you elect your next Majority Leader should demand balance and that Corbett investigate the Republican caucuses just as aggressively as he has investigated the House Democrats!
DeWeese and his Republican attorneys have let Corbett run roughshod over you. Don't let it happen again!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
In the Democrat caucus the obvious fly in the ointment is Bill DeWeese. DeWeese is damaged goods for so many reasons that even with Dwight Evan's considerable influence he appears to have little to no chance of being re-elected as majority leader. DeWeese has already been quoted in a few articles talking about perhaps seeking a lower ranking leadership post like Whip if he can't win the majority leader spot. (I wonder if he has any experience parking cars?) DeWeese definitively gave up any hope of becoming House Speaker again and publicly endorsed Keith McCall for that job. The rumor is that McCall, Evans and DeWeese met after the election and DeWeese and Evans asked McCall to allow DeWeese to run for Speaker with McCall's support and in return they would back McCall for Majority Leader. It looks like McCall rolled them both and announced for Speaker soon after that rumored meeting.
From an outside observer's viewpoint, it doesn't seem to make much sense for the House Democrats to elect DeWeese to a lower ranking leadership position if they won't elect him as majority leader. If DeWeese is such a political and public relations liability that he can't be elected Leader, he would only be very slightly less radioactive as the Democrat's third ranking position as Whip. Radioactive is radioactive. It may take a little longer as you are exposed to the danger, but you still end up dead.
The Republicans seem to be having a much more orderly (and sane) leadership election. It looks like Sam Smith will be re-elected easily as Minority Leader and Mario Civera will continue to be the Republican Appropriations Chair. Mike Turzai from Allegheny County, who ran the House Republican campaign operation this year, appears to have an easy track to be elected as Minority Whip. The current whip, Dave Argall, has stepped aside and declared his intention to seek the Jim Rhodes Senate seat.
Now for the sane part. All indications, news reports, and rumors seem to point to the likelihood that John Perzel will be shut out of any Republican leadership post. Perzel once ruled the roost in the Republican caucus but his bullying and his arrogance has caught up with him. Perzel raised a ton of money this election cycle by convincing (foolish?) contributors that he would soon be back in power. The Republican leadership election next week should put that fantasy to rest for good.
It's a long, long way from Speaker to a back-back-back bencher in the Republican caucus. Nobody deserves it more than John Perzel. Umm...except Bill DeWeese.
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review published an article in June of 2006 outlining the huge amounts of campaign cash Perzel gave to his then Chief of Staff Brian Preski and other legislative/public staff. When you read the article, you have to laugh at the explanations and rationale provided by Perzel and Preski for why Preski deserved to be paid by the taxpayers and the campaign at the same time and how he could do both his public and campaign jobs without mixing the two. Using the Perzel/Preski explanation it appears that in many weeks throughout the year Preski was working very hard --- something like 36 hours. That's 36 hours -- as in 36 hours a day!
From the Tribune Review article:
"The thousands of dollars spent on trips and entertainment "contributed to and will continue to contribute to the outcome of my elections," Perzel and Preski said in response to written questions from the Trib.
What's unusual about Perzel's campaign is the amount -- $700,000 -- in reimbursements to legislative staffers assisting his campaign. They assisted on their own time, Perzel said.
Preski, an attorney, is paid $160,000 by state taxpayers to oversee Perzel's legislative staff. In 2005, the campaign paid him a $56,000 salary, and in 2004 and 2005 reimbursed him a combined $264,000 for expenses ranging from bottled water to the Vegas trips and the Super Bowls.
Preski's reimbursements, documented in more than 2,300 receipts reviewed by the Trib, far exceed those paid by campaigns to aides of other legislative leaders in Pennsylvania."
So first lots of campaign money to former CoS Preski and now lots more campaign money to CoS Towhey. Perzel and his public and political staff just continue with business as usual. They give every possible signal to the whole political world that they have no fear of any Bonusgate investigation by Tom Corbett. That's no surprise to me. I think they're right.
(Read the entire DeCoursey article here.)
What I found to be most interesting about the story is the confirmation throughout the story and the documents that were provided by DeCoursey that Perzel and his public staff continue to do business as usual. The story and the documents show that Perzel's legislative staff continue to be very involved in his political operation. That's no surprise to anyone who has been around the Capitol over the last 15 years or so. But it is especially interesting in light of AG/SC Corbett's Bonusgate investigation and his indictment of Democrats for mixing public business with politics and campaigns. Perzel and his staff's conduct make a joke of Corbett's claim to be "investigating all 4 caucuses".
A reader saw my post yesterday and sent me some information on Perzel's campaign account and payments made to Perzel's chief of staff Paul Towhey. The "Friends of John Perzel" campaign account has payed over $140,000 to Towhey from 2004-2008. The payments appear to be for ten's of thousands of dollars in salary and various reimbursements for campaign activities. Paul Towhey is listed in the House of Representatives Chief Clerk's office as a public employee supervised by John Perzel.
Look at the Perzel's $140,000+ campaign payments to Towhey in this document here.
Now our bet is that Perzel and Towhey would explain his campaign activities while on the public payroll by saying what most other Republicans have said in public over the last two years of the Bonusgate investigation : "Our staff just does political work while on their "lunch hour or at night". (The campaign payments to Towhey include thousands of dollars in reimbursements for "mileage". Perzel represents an urban district that's relatively compact. Towhey must have been doing quite a bit of driving on his lunch hour and at night.)
Of course I don't buy any of that for even one minute. But we will likely never know the truth because Corbett can't and won't touch Republican Speaker Emeritus Perzel. Many news stories have provided the public with the information that well over 120+ Democratic staff people were interviewed by the Attorney General's staff and many dozens of them appeared in front of a grand jury. According to those same news stories, to date there have been a dozen or so Republican staff interviewed and a small handful in front of the grand jury. I would be willing to bet my considerable winnings from the last office weekly football pool that Paul Towhey was not one of them.
Developing...more to come.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Read the entire DeCoursey article here.
As I read the story, I was especially interested in how brazen Perzel and his staff continue to be at mixing politics and their "official" duties while on the public payroll. It's as if Perzel and his staff team never heard of Bonusgate. Either that or they already know Corbett has no intention of investigating and taking a close look at John Perzel and his legislative and political operation. The events in the DeCoursey story take place throughout several months in the first half of 2008. Most of the reported events were happening at the same time Attorney General Tom Corbett over and over again claimed to be investigating all 4 caucuses.
When you read DeCoursey's story it's clear Perzel's legislative, taxpayer- paid staff continues to be very involved in his political operation. Most objective observers of the political scene in Harrisburg would say Perzel and his staff always operated that way. What's that you say? Isn't that what Corbett indicted 12 Democrats for in July? It sure is. And yes, it's very hypocritical with a healthy dose of double standards thrown in by Corbett for good measure.
The DeCoursey story points out what many have been saying about the interaction between Corbett and Perzel throughout the Bonusgate investigation. Perzel clearly has no fear of Corbett and seems to be able to continue with business as usual while he rubs it in Corbett's face. Perzel may as well just put up a sign in his office: "Tom who? You can't touch me!"
The political operative hired by Perzel and mentioned in DeCoursey's story wrote a letter on Nov 7th to Rep. Curt Shroeder outlining the tasks Perzel assigned to him. The letter (and the other documents with the DeCoursey story) describes some of the interaction between Perzel's Chief of Staff and the political operative and demonstrates that the Chief of Staff and other Perzel public staff were very involved in Perzel's political operation on a regular basis.
Somebody should be calling for a grand jury investigation. Oh wait, there already is a grand jury investigation -- just not of John Perzel. So much for "investigating all 4 caucuses."
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Corbett's strategy was transparent and successful: Use the favorable press attention from Bonusgate as the cornerstone of his own re-election effort, investigate and indict Democrats before the election, delay "investigating" or charging Republicans until after the election (if ever), and give every Republican legislative candidate a great issue to use against every Democratic opponent. It would be a great strategy if the media and the voters will let you get away away with it. And now we know -- they did -- and so it was. Go figure.
One of the two competitive State Senate races (there were only two competitive Senate races in the state) is the best example of the success of the Corbett/GOP Bonusgate strategy at work. The 47th Senate district is historically a strong Democratic district in Western PA made up of most of Beaver County and part of Lawrence County. Sen. Jerry LaValle has held the seat since 1991 and he has coasted to re-election ever since. This was such a strong Democratic Senate seat that the Republicans never even put a token opponent on the ballot against LaValle since his first election.
Once LaValle announced his decision to retire and not run for re-election the Democrats in that area, according to press reports, quickly coalesced around Rep. Sean Ramaley as the consensus Democratic candidate to replace him. By all accounts in the state Capitol, Sean Ramaley was a very solid legislator and an all around very nice, well spoken, and soft spoken guy. I have asked many people about him over the last few months and the response was always the same: "He's one of the nicest guys you will ever meet in politics". Ramaley seemed like a sure thing for Senator in this Solid Democratic district. But Tom Corbett had other ideas about this senate seat and in a very partisan move that shocked Democrats and non-partisan observers statewide, Corbett indicts "nice guy" and sure winner Rep. Sean Ramaley on very flimsy "evidence" in July along with Veon and the 10 others.
We all know the rest of the story. Ramaley is forced to remove himself as the Democratic Senate candidate and the Republicans use "Bonusgate" as THE issue in this Senate campaign and win the race with a little known Republican candidate by a margin of 59,195 to 44,995.
It is almost hard to believe that in 2008, after the whole country watched what Alberto Gonzales did to politicize the US Justice Department, that Corbett could get away with a political assassination by political prosecution. But he did.
One lesson learned from the Gonzales episode is that it took almost 2 years for the Main Stream Media to finally expose what Gonzales and his partisan prosecutors and staff were doing to the US Justice system despite the best efforts by bloggers and others who called Gonzales out very early in the process. The MSM was skeptical and dismissive of the early efforts by progressives and others who were trying to blow the whistle on Gonzales. A lot of damage was done in the meantime.
And so it is here in PA.
More on Corbett's Bonusgate gifts to the House Republicans in future posts.
Within days of the election Corbett was already setting new and higher levels of hypocrisy on Bonusgate and other issues and we will bring those stories here soon. We also have so many stories from previous posts to follow up on that I will be very busy in the weeks ahead.
In the meantime I wanted to post the video below as a reminder of what we try to do here at CasablancaPA. Our goal from the start has been to try to cover PA politics in general and Bonusgate in particular in a way that most of the Main Stream Media does not. In the film Casablanca, Captain Louis Renault became the icon for hypocrites past, present, and future based on the scene below. Captain Renault remains uniquely qualified to expose the hypocrisy and double standards in PA politics and politicians (especially Tom Corbett!).
I imagine that you are as "shocked, shocked" as I am that "politics" was going on at the state capitol. Corbett continues to conduct a disgraceful, partisan prosecution of Democrats as the Republicans collect their "winnings".
Monday, November 3, 2008
Sarah Palin and the RNC should step up and use some of that clothes money they spent on Palin's wardrobe recently to help ol' Tom out. Afterall, Corbett's Bonusgate campaign strategy has been a great service to the Republicans running for election in PA (especially the State House Republicans). A little money for clothes is the least the Republican Party could do for him.
The reason for my new found concern for Corbettt's need for some clothes is apparent in this video I came across today of Corbett and other Republican bigwigs doing their best to somehow convince a very Republican crowd that McCain could still win in PA. Corbett has on a too-small Phillies hat and an incredible shrinking red sweater. Watch the video here (go to the 4:30 mark to see Corbett in action):
Corbett let's us know in the video that he "was with Sarah Palin yesterday". It doesn't look like she gave him any fashion advice or some of that pocket change from the RNC for some clothes for his public appearances. Or...or...maybe Sarah did give him some advice: "Tom, just go out there and talk to the real Pennsylvanians and the real Americans dressed like our hero Joe the Plumber! You betcha!"
Starting Sunday the PA GOP began airing an anti-Obama ad focusing on Rev. Wright.
Watch the ad here.
We read more accounts every day that it all comes down to the voters in PA for McCain. Every poll published in the last few days has Obama with minimum 4-7 point lead.
The GOP and Corbett's Bonusgate gambit and campaign strategy seems to be falling flat so they roll out Rev. Wright at the last minute. My own view is that the Wright ads will hurt McCain and the state GOP as much as they help. These ads only play to the GOP base, at best, and they turn off the moderate voters in each party. I have also seen and heard very animated reactions from strong base Democratic voters over the last two days as they saw these Wright ads. The ads just motivate them more than ever -- if that is possible.
Tidbit: In another sure sign of McCain's sure desperation he is appearing today in Tennessee. Yes, Tennessee. While there is no doubt that Tennessee will be in McCain's column tomorrow night, McCain's appearance in that part of the state seems to be designed to appeal to the local media and TV market in neighboring Southwest VA. This part of VA is relatively lightly populated compared to Norther VA where Obama is doing very well. Desperation for sure.
Friday, October 31, 2008
But here in PA the State House Republicans have a weapon of mass destruction to unleash on their Democratic counterparts: The hyper-partisan Attorney General Tom Corbett. To help the House Republicans Tom Corbett rode in on his high horse and indicted Democrats before the election and made sure there "wasn't enough time" to charge any Republicans before the voting started (if ever). Corbett reached into his bag of tricks and made sure that in this very difficult election season at least in PA Republicans would have something to hang on to and beat the Democrats over the head with.
In today's Inquirer the House Republican campaign spokesman let's the whole world know that in PA, Bonusgate is the only issue they have that gives them a fighting chance:
"In terms of control of the state House, it really comes down to Bonusgate vs. Obama's popularity," said Al Bowman, a spokesman for the House Republican Campaign Committee.
"All politics are still local, and while Barrack is claiming he will usher in a new day as president, local state House Democrats are still being chased by the ghosts of their own corruption and inaction."
So the House Republican campaign spokesman gives a big wet kiss to Corbett today for giving them the issue to use in this tough election year. You can just see the high fives all around. Corbett of course continues to maintain that the timing of the indictments against Democrats and the fact that there "was no time" to thoroughly investigate Republicans before the election is all just a coincidence. Yeah, I know, "shocking".
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
_Florida: About 2.6 million people have already voted in a state where absentee ballots overwhelmingly favored President Bush in the razor-thin 2000 election. Among those voting so far this year, 45 percent are registered Democrats and 39 percent Republicans.
_North Carolina: About 1.6 million people have already voted — 54 percent are registered Democrats and 29 percent are Republicans. About 100,000 newly registered voters have signed up and voted at North Carolina's one-stop voting centers, McDonald said. Among them, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by about 2-1, he said.
_Iowa: About 340,000 people have already voted — 49 percent are registered Democrats and 29 percent are Republicans
_Colorado: About 815,000 people have voted — 39 percent are registered Democrats and 37 percent are Republicans.
_Nevada: About 342,000 people have already voted in Clark and Washoe Counties, which contain nearly 90 percent of the state's population. Among those voters, 53 percent are registered Democrats and 30 percent are Republicans.
_New Mexico: About 111,000 people have voted in Bernalillo County, the state's largest. Among them, 55 percent are registered Democrats and 33 percent are Republicans.
_Georgia: Black voters make up about 35 percent of those who have already voted — a big increase from the 2004 election, when 25 percent of the state's electorate was black. Blacks voted for Obama by ratio of 9-1 in Georgia's Democratic primary this year.
And here is a story from Ohio that also has good news for Democrats in the early voting in that state.
Many analysts have accurately pointed out, in my opinion, that one of the reasons McCain is so focused on PA despite being behind in every poll published here in the last month is precisely because we don't have early voting. A state with no early voting gives McCain at least a chance (however slim) for the extra days he needs to hope for a game changing event. So the voters in PA become McCain's last best hope.
McCain is known to like a little gambling and it seems to me as he and his team look at the early voting reports around the country he has no choice but to double down on his bet in PA.
Kieth Olbermann is very good outing big time hypocrisy in campaigns and candidates. he is having just too much fun his his recent Special Campaign Comment on Sarah Palin. Watch it here:
Oh if we could only get Olbermann to come to PA and do some Special Comments on Tom Corbett. There is so much material on Corbett that Olbermann could do his whole one hour show just on Corbett's hypocrisy and his avid use of the double standard when applying "justice" in PA.
More on my earlier post about Corbett's York County coverup later today.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
This explosive story exposes a complete Corbett whitewash of an incredible list of criminal acts, political campaigning in a public office, sexist and racists comments, lax accounting of public dollars, personal and political work by county staff on county time, grant money spent outside the rules and guidelines, selective justice for friends and political allies, and more -- all in the York County office of Republican District Attorney and Corbett political ally Stan Rebert.
This story makes the stuff Corbett put in his big press conference about the House Democrats when he indicted them look like kindergarten stuff. And these people involved in this explosive York County story are people with badges -- county detectives, county prosecutors and the Republican DA himself!
So for the investigation of the House Democrats Corbett convened a grand jury, did at least an 18 month investigation, interviewed and brow beat over 150 Democrat staff people, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and used thousands of man hours and indicted 12 Democrats in July. And for Corbett's "investigation" of Republican DA Stan Rebert you ask? No grand jury, few (if any) interviews with county staff ,and the Corbett made an announcement a year later that Republican Rebert was "cleared".
This Yardbird.com story by Bill Keisling has so many twists and turns it will take numerous posts to just highlight the incriminating facts about Corbett and his Republican allies in York County. The story is well written and particularly explosive because it is based on the material in sworn depositions collected and filed in a Federal civil case. There were over a couple dozen depositions taken in this civil lawsuit and it's all there in black and white. I read through many of the depositions, including those of Stan Rebert and his wife, and they are damning to say the least.
So much for Corbett's "following the evidence where it leads us" and his "highly touted investigative staff". When you read the depositions you quickly realize either Corbett did NO investigation and just covered up for Republican Rebert or he investigated the DA and buried the results -- or more likely, some of each. Either way he and his staff are implicated and complicit in this scandal.
This expose of Corbett and Republican DA Rebert is more powerful evidence that Corbett is an extremely partisan Attorney General who will use the justice system in this state in a partisan way to punish Democrats and help Republicans.
I will post much more later. I will also post the sworn depositions so you can read them for yourself. Read the entire story by Keisling using the link above or here.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Micozzie, Micozize, or Anonymous? Whatever. Still Just ANOTHER Republican NOT Investigated By Corbett
Checking the Balance is also intrigued by my comparison of the NON-investigation by Corbett of Micozzie and Corbett's two year long investigation of the Democrats in general and Mike Veon in particular. As I said before, I don't know Veon or Micozzie. I, or course, don't definitively know what either Veon or Micozzie did or did not do. My focus is and has been on Corbett and his outrageous use of hypocrisy and double standards and his abuse of the grand jury system as he investigates Democrats and let's Republicans off the hook. Too many people remained in silent disbelief as Alberto Gonzales and others politicized the US Justice Department like never before. We should have learned a lesson -- it does happen. It did happen. We should not let it happen here.
Checking the Balance got an angry comment on his site from a Micozzie ally. I got one too from an anonymous writer (copied below just as it was received on my blog):
".Should check you facts and see that both allegations from Nick Miscopied's opponent were unfounded and malicious. The House Ethics Committee with three Democrats rulings that NO WRONG DOING OCCURED, Maybe that's why no credible news has reported any issue with Micozzie"
The writer of the comment above either conveniently or unknowingly misses the entire point. Maybe the writer is correct -- and maybe not. But let's find out using the same standard Space Cadet and Attorney General Tom Corbett has applied to the Democrats:
LET'S HAVE A GRAND JURY INVESTIGATE MICOZZIE AND HIS NON-PROFIT.
Certainly enough questions have been raised by the reporting done by Checking the Balance and others regarding Micozzie and this non-profit to require an investigation Mr. Corbett. Or will Corbett continue to have a double standard and just use the grand jury system to investigate Democrats in the legislature? From all of the press accounts I have read Mr. Corbett has had a grand jury in Pittsburgh investigating Mr. Veon and his non-profit for almost two years. I have also read about Mr. Corbett's two year long grand jury investigation of the Midland-based PA Cyber School (a non-profit cyber school) in the very Democratic Beaver County. Corbett is using the grand jury system as a political weapon -- aimed only at Democrats.
So I hope Micozzie and the writer of the comment to my blog will join with me in asking Corbett to convene a grand jury -- so Micozzie can clear his name. I won't hold my breath.
Developing...more to come.