Friday, October 31, 2008


A Captain Renault post: In today's Philadelphia Inquirer the campaign spokesman for the House Republicans gives a big wet kiss to Tom Corbett. We all know this is a very difficult campaign season for Republicans everywhere and Republicans all over the country are running scared -- from the race for President to the US Senate, to state House races in many states.

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

Early Voting Has Started In Other States- Will McCain Have To Double Down on PA?

A Captain Renault post: Lots of reports today with looks at the early voting patterns in the states that allow early voting. The reports do not look good for McCain. An AP story was filed just a few hours ago with these facts and figures:

_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.

Hard To Top Corbett's Hypocrisy -- But Palin Gives It The Old Corbett Try

A Captain Renault post: Spotting high end hypocrisy in political officials is a favorite past time of many people in the media and the blogging world. For me, Captain Renault, it is my specialty so I am big fan of the MSM folks who are very good at exposing hypocrisy in politics. Of course there is so much for us to work with that it can be a full time job -- especially in PA with AG/SC Tom Corbett running amok.

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


A Captain Renault post: A writer with roots in PA published an explosive story yesterday on his website. The story is incredible and breathtaking in so many ways I am not sure where to start. But always a good place to start is with my favorite hypocrite -- the very partisan Tom Corbett.

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 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

A Captain Renault post: It looks like Republican Rep. Nick Micozzie and his friends are taking offense to the close scrutiny he is getting recently. The blog Checking the Balance is doing some good reporting as they look at Micozzie and the non-profit organization he funded with state funds.

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:


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.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Corbett to charge dozens of House members or exonerates Veon?

An Ugarte post:

A frequent reader of this blog brought to my attention some documents that would indicate one of two things.

Either Corbett will be charging dozens more House members of both parties after the November election, or Mike Veon will be exonerated on at least five felony charges.

Corbett charged Mike Veon with five felonies surrounding the use of his contingency account to pay for carry-out food for his “basketball dinners” -- conflict of interest, theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, and theft of services.

According to the July 10th Harrisburg presentment:

“On Tuesday nights, Mike Veon along with other caucus members and certain employees, would play basketball. [Staff] were tasked with taking food orders from the players, ordering and purchasing food, and arranging it on Veon’s conference table in his Capitol office for the returning players…These ‘dinners’ ranged in cost from approximately $100 to, on occasion, almost $300…All of these dinners were ultimately paid from the Democratic Whip’s contingency account with taxpayer funds…The public payment of these meal expenses did not stop Veon from collecting his full per diem for these same dates.”

It is tough to tell what crime was committed.

Is it purchasing meals from the contingency account?

If so, then dozens of House chairmen and leaders would be guilty of all five felonies since nearly every contingency account has been used to purchase food for members. For example, Republican Commerce Committee Chairman Dick Hess spent over $1,000 in May of 2007 alone on dinners using his contingency account.

Is it having staff buy the meals for the members?

If so, then Republican Caucus Administrator Merle Phillips would need to be charged with five felonies for having his chief of staff, Stephen Pancoe, buy dinner using his contingency account in June of 2007.

Could it be allowing staff members to eat some of the food?

If so, then Republican Whip David Argall has problems with the Attorney General’s office for these staff luncheons in August of 2008.

Is it possible that the cost of the dinners broke the law?

If so, then Republican Transportation Chairman Rick Geist ($1600.58 at the Progress Grill) and Republican Liquor Control Chairman Ron Raymond ($2,488.14 at Haydn’s on Pine) should get ready for their perp walk in cuffs after the election.

Is it due to the fact the dinners were eaten after a game of basketball?

What is the difference between Veon and other members playing basketball then heading back to the Capitol to eat and a member finishing his or her day on the Hill, going for a workout, then going to dinner at Tavern on the Hill afterwards? If that is illegal, then everyone who went to the $1,565.07 dinner paid for by Republican Caucus Secretary Ray Bunt on 11/9/2006 should get fitted for an orange jumpsuit because, really, how much legislative business happened with Ray Bunt at that dinner meeting? (Those of you who know Bunt know what I’m talking about.)

If you believe that Bunt was doing legislative business, then you have to believe Veon was…except for the times he was playing basketball or sleeping, when was that guy not working? I am sure that the members that ate the Tuesday night post-basketball food would attest to that.

Is it because Veon collected a per diem on the days he ate the food?

If so, then every member of the legislature is going to face five felony counts for eating food paid for by their caucus, by a contingency account or by a lobbyist while still collecting a per diem for that day in Harrisburg. Sacre bleu! Are there enough handcuffs in Harrisburg?!?

The expenditures above are just a few of the thousands from House contingency accounts for meals. Check some of them out for yourself here. It sure looks like Attorney General Corbett has a bunch of indictments to pull together after November 4th.

However, there is another side to this situation. The House Chief Clerk’s office issued this memo alerting all House members that eating food provided by a contingency account is, in fact, legal. And, furthermore, as long as a member eats it in the Capitol, no per diem adjustments are necessary.

What a conundrum for Corbett!

Either he disagrees with the Chief Clerk's office and charges dozens and dozens of House members with five felonies each for eating meals paid for by a contingency account or buying food with contingency account money, or he drops five charges brought against Mike Veon.

I would be shocked, shocked to learn that Corbett and his investigators went off half-cocked bringing such serious charges against Veon.

Although, Corbett should hope everyone believes that he and his bumbling team of Keystone Kop investigators weren’t aware of the massive number of expenditures from contingency accounts made by Republican members of the legislature.

Otherwise, it would be more proof that Corbett has chosen to selectively prosecute Democrats in his bonusgate investigation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Does the Road to the White House Really Go Through PA?

A Captain Renault post: The newspapers, cable news channels and blogs are full of stories today about McCain making a "last stand" in PA in his attempt for a come back, upset victory on the road to the White House. We will soon know whether this is a brilliant strategy or a final act of desperation from the McCain campaign.

All the polls I have looked at in the last few days have Obama winning if the election were today by an average of 7.5 points. My view is that this appears to be a very shaky strategy at best and a sure sign of the almost impossible path to victory and 270 electoral college votes for McCain. Many people are reporting and commenting on the various reasons for the strategy. Lots of the assumptions made by the reporters and commentators sound far-fetched to me but the whole gambit is far-fetched. Check this guy (Al Giordano) out for as good an explanation and assumption as anyone else.

While many are reporting on McCain's last stand in PA I just wanted to point out the obvious but often overlooked political point about the McCain strategy -- a point overlooked because of the understandable focus on the race for President to the exclusion of other candidates on the ballot. Whether or not McCain makes a serious play in PA on the national strategic chess board with have HUGE implications on the downballot races. If McCain does in fact make PA his must-win state both the McCain and Obama campaigns will make almost every precinct in PA ground zero for voter contact and GOTV efforts in these final weeks.

Some State House, State Senate, and even the statewide campaigns for AG and Treasurer will likely be decided by what financial and human resources decisions the Presidential campaigns make in these final two weeks. The close and determinative state house races for example are often decided by 500 votes or less out of 25,000 - 30,000 votes cast. Tom Corbett won statewide in 2004 by 109,000 votes out of 5.4 million votes cast. So despite his name recognition and campaign war chest advantages, the ultra-partisan Corbett could very well find himself on the wrong side of the partisan divide. Now -- that would be real justice!

More on the down ballot races later...developing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Day, Another Republican NOT Investigated By Corbett

A Captain Renault post: Checking the Balance is really doing some incredible work over there at his blog. I am very impressed with his reporting and his ability to get to the point clearly and concisely. Of course I also have a soft spot for this blog because he almost daily does an incredible job of reporting and commenting on the partisan antics and incompetence of Attorney General and Space Cadet Tom Corbett.

Checking the Balance has been all over a story barely reported anywhere else about long- time State House Republican Nick Miccozzie and his use or misuse of a non-profit organization in his legislative district. Read his latest two posts on Miccozzie here and here.

This story caught my attention for two reasons. It is (A) another example of a high ranking Republican member of the State House NOT investigated by Corbett and (B) the Miccozzie story seems to have many parallels to some stories I've read about former Democrat State Representative Mike Veon. Veon of course HAS been investigated and indicted by Corbett. I don't know either Veon or Miccozzie and I am just now catching up with the parallels in these stories but it sure looks to me like another example of Corbett's parisan approach to "justice".

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review just had a story in Sunday's edition about an ongoing grand jury investigation of non-profit organizations tied to Veon. The reporters wrote:

"...For months, investigators from the Attorney General's Office have been scouring records from Veon's nonprofit operations."

Intruiged, I did some research and found some other stories that reported on Corbett's use of a grand jury to investigate Veon and some non-profit organizations formed while he was still in office. So it seems pretty clear to me that Corbett is investigating Democrat Veon and using the grand jury system to do it.

The more interesting thing I found is that the allegations against Veon reported in these news stories are very, very similar to the allegations pointed out on Checking the Balance about Nick Miccozzie. So here we find ourselves again -- Corbett and his grand jury investigate a prominent Democrat and ignore the same or similar allegations and evidence against a Republican. Sounds familiar. For Democrat Veon -- another day, another grand jury investigation. For Republican Miccozzie -- ummm, nothing.

I don't know what either Veon or Miccozzie did or did not do with these non-profits. My focus has been and remains that Corbett is a hypocrite who continues to use a double standard of justice while dealing with Republicans and Democrats. I watched as Alberto Gonzales politicized the US Justice Department and made a mockery of "justice for all". Tom Corbett should not be allowed to do the same thing in PA.

How long will the public, the MSM and editorial boards let Corbett get away with this? Will there be a tipping point when Corbett's ban on Republican investigations is just so transparent and so obvious that he is finally exposed?

So many little time...developing.

An Interesting Newspaper Endorsement -- Against Corbett

A Captain Renault post: In an interesting endorsement published yesterday in the political T part of the state, the Lancaster Intelligencer has endorsed John Morganelli over Space Cadet and Attorney General Tom Corbett. The most critical points made in the editorial are all about his mishandling of the Bonusgate investigation.

From the Intelligencer editorial:

"But this is a mess Corbett brought upon himself. He has had ample time and
resources to investigate members of all caucuses. Now he has said there is not enough time to bring additional charges before the election. That raises questions about the credibility of the investigation."

At least here at the Intelligencer, Corbett's use of all aspects of Bonusgate to feather his own re-election nest has backfired on him. Unfortunately some editorial writers remain blind and numb to Corbett's partisan use of the justice system -- not unlike the early days of the Alberto Gonzales scandals in the US Justice Department. The main stream media largely ignored the clear use of politics by Gonzales and his staff until it was too late and the damage was done.

Corbett recently picked up the endorsement of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and the Philadelphia Inquirer. In a strange twist, both papers which have previously editorialized unfavorably on Corbett's constant and long focus on alleged wrongdoings by Democrats while Republicans roamed free, have now decided to endorse Corbett. The logic in paraphrase: "...sure he screwed up, yes Republicans should be investigated as thoroughly as Democrats, and yes he has understandably invited attacks of partisanship, and yes he should have indicted Republicans before the election to be fair to the voters, but we endorse him anyhow. Maybe/hopefully he will get it right the next time."

Go figure. Congratulations to the Intelligencer for being ahead of the curve. Someday, when the Corbett house of partisan cards crumbles, they will get to say to their sister papers in the big cities -- "We told you so."

Read (download) the entire Intelligencer editorial here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Morganelli Goes West, Lassoes Tom Corbett's Bull****

A Captain Renault post: It looks like John Morganelli made a trip to the Pittsburgh area recently in his campaign to defeat Space Cadet and Attorney General Tom Corbett. Corbett is from Allegheny County and expects to do better there in the general election than your average Republican running statewide. After all, it's in the western part of the state that Corbett has fanned the flames of the hypocritical, partisan Bonusgate investigation the most.

KDKA's political reporter Jon Delano interviewed Morganelli at length and some of the interview ran on their TV news shows for a couple days. Morganelli did an impressive job of pointing out the hypocrisy, double standards, and partisan motivations that have all been part of Corbett's "investigation. He makes a strong case that Corbett has botched the investigation from the start and that Republicans are going to walk away free and clear in the end.

Watch the the news clip here:

Delano sat down with Morganelli for an extensive interview. I don't know Morganelli, nor have I seen him speak outside of a press conference. It's too bad more people won't get to see him make his case against Space Cadet Corbett in a format like this interview. He comes across as credible and believable and makes a strong case for his own election over Corbett based on his experience and his vision for the job of Attorney General.

Of course Morganelli also does a great job of of explaining why Corbett is full of bull in his various explanations for why he has targeted Democrats and "ran out of time" to charge Republicans before the election. Morganelli uses his experience as a 17 plus years as a prosecutor to lay out in a coherent, clear, and easy to understand way why Corbett is wrong and how he has blown this Bonusgate investigation.

Watch the entire interview here:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Corbett Serves Us Swiss Cheese

A Captain Renault Post: AG/SC Corbett sat down recently with reporter Chris Freind of the The Bulletin and this is a must read story for anyone following the AG race and the Bonusgate story. The interview is being published in The Bulletin in 3 parts and today's edition has part 2.

To his credit, Freind asks Corbett many of the tough questions that other MSM reporters have not been willing to ask. And Freind presses Corbet for real answers rather than Corbett's usual swiss cheese explanations and excuses -- full of holes. Unfortunately, despite Freind's best efforts, Corbett sticks to serving us swiss cheese.

As we know, Corbett has set up quite a re-election scheme from the start with his Bonusgate investigation. He has timed everything just right: Democrats investigated for 18 months and then indicted before the election; Republicans "investigated" for a few weeks before Corbett "ran out of time" to indict before the election; a preliminary hearing for the Democrats scheduled one month before Corbett's re-election bid.

And as Freind's interview points out, Corbett knows how to gloat about prosecuting Democrats in every interview. His arm will be in a sling when this election is over from patting himself on the back so much. Corbett easily and readily pats his own back when discussing his indictment of prosecution of the Democrats.

But as you can see when Freind presses Corbett on possible Republican wrongdoings, Corbett's hands go in his pockets. You see, Corbett can't talk about specific allegations about Perzel, or Republican computers, or allegations about the Aristotle computer programs because, ummm, you see, "we have an ongoing grand jury investigation, so I can't comment".

So Corbett chirps away and brags about the Democrat illegalities he discovered all the while using both arms to pat himself on the back and then clams up about the Republicans' activities because he kept those activities inside the secret grand jury process. Quite a scheme to help Republicans, if you can get away with it.

News Tips From Readers

A Captain Renault post: Two news tips early this morning from some of our blog readers:

Mike Manzo, Bill DeWeese's former chief of staff, is testifying in front of the grand jury today. Manzo took the stand last week during the preliminary hearing for two of the defendants in the Bonusgate investigation and implicated Bill DeWeese directly and publicly for the first time in this two year investigation.

A reader with connections to a well know Harrisburg area pollster who polls mostly for Republican candidates tell us that he has seen a Corbett vs. Morganelli poll that has Morganelli down by just 2 points. The reader says there are still a relatively high number of undecideds in this race compared to other statewide races at this point in the campaign.

Developing...more to come.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What Clock Does Corbett's Mouthpiece Harley Use?

A Captain Renault Post: Breaking news: Democratic attorney general candidate held a news conference this morning to accuse Republican Attorney General/Space Cadet Tom Corbett of conflict of interest and mismanagement in the Bonusgate probe. But that’s not the only news that’s breaking. (I will have more on Morganelli's news conference in later posts).

No, with keen eyes and a great sense of the smell of hypocrisy, Captain Renault spotted another breaking story: Corbett’s state office spokesman, Kevin Harley, emerged from the press conference to answer the charges against his boss. He rejected Morganelli’s claims, of course. But what he didn’t clearly answer was whether he --- Harley himself --- took vacation time or compensatory time from his state job to serve as the official spokesman for a campaign-related event. Maybe he was “out to lunch,” like the entire investigative team that’s turned a blind eye to Republican deeds in Bonsugate; but we doubt that, as it was 10 a.m., unless they take very long lunches in Corbett's Space Cadet Academy/AG office.

Here is what blogging reporter Alex Roarty wrote on earlier today about Harley:

"Harley, who told reporters he was not on duty while speaking with them, and Corbett's campaign manager, Brian Nutt, each said Morganelli's accusations were rooted in fantasy, not fact."

So let's see if I have this right: Corbett's taxpayer paid spokesman Kevin Harley stands next to Corbett's current campaign manager and current-but-on-leave Chief of Staff and speaks for Corbett's campaign while telling the reporters he is "not on duty" --whatever that means. Do the reporters buy this nonsense without follow up questions to the mouthpiece of the guy who is setting the legal standard for "leave time" for campaigns? Does Harley punch a clock? Go on paid leave? Ask for a bathroom break? I can not possibly be the only person watching this performance to see the hypocrisy oozing from Harley's pores.

CasablancaPA will be taking a much closer look at the taxpayer paid Harley and the once and future Chief of Staff Brian Nutt and their campaign activities -- on and off the clock -- in the days ahead.

But we do know right now for sure is that Harley has long has been doing double-duty serving as Corbett’s press guy on state and campaign issues, interchangeably. Perhaps there’s a bonus in his future, no?

Developing....more to come.

Jim Marshall campaigning in Harrisburg office?

A fan of this blog from Beaver County passed along to me an interesting photo from the Beaver county Times that shows Rep. Jim Marshall working on his campaign while sitting at his office desk in his Capitol office. [photo removed by request]

How can this be? Just like Captain Renault, I was shocked. Shocked, that a Republican House member would be campaigning in the Capitol. So, I checked out the supporting information our Beaver County fan provided with the picture.

Apparently, the skeptically witty political reporter from the Beaver County Times, J.D. Prose, shadowed newly minted state Rep. Jim Marshall for a day in Harrisburg. If you’re interested in reading the story it is titled “Marshall begins legislative career with a bang” in the Sunday, February 4th edition.

The date of Prose’s visit was January 31st, 2007. Keep in mind this was the due date for Marshall's 2006 Cycle 7 Year-end campaign finance report.

Prose snapped this picture and it ran with the story. You don’t have to look too hard to see that Marshall is clearly working on and signing his campaign finance reports at his state funded desk in his official state office. It is even clearer when viewed on your own computer. See below on how to have the picture sent to you to see for yourself.

You say that Marshall could be working on a document that merely resembles the campaign finance report form found at this link?

That is a very fair question, so I asked our fan from Beaver County for better proof than just this picture.

That is when I was provided with the cover page of the Marshall campaign finance report filed on the very day the photo was taken -- January 31st, 2007.

It was signed by Rep. Marshall on January 31st, and it was necessarily signed in Harrisburg because the notary is a Dauphin County notary.

It seems to be pretty compelling evidence that Rep. Marshall was, in fact, working on his campaign report at his official state desk in his state funded Harrisburg office. However, I was still a bit skeptical that Rep. Marshall would really be working on his campaign in his office.

That is when our fan pointed out to me that the notarization was by Judy Jehu, an Administrative Assistant in the House Republican Caucus. This very same Judy Jehu received a $1,817 bonus.

A picture that clearly shows a campaign finance reporting form on a date that the finance report was due signed in Harrisburg and notarized by an employee of the House Republican Caucus. That adds up to fairly compelling proof that this photo is of Rep. Marshall working on his campaign in his state office at his state-funded desk.

As Captain Renault has said all along regarding the bonusgate investigation, I am shocked. Shocked that this is happening in the Capitol.

I wonder if Attorney General Tom Corbett will speak with Rep. Marshall about this? Or Ms. Jehu and her supervisor Mary Geiger? Or Geiger’s supervisor, Bernadette Runk? Perhaps Runk’s supervisor Tony Aliano?

Oh, wait. Corbett has put a moratorium on his investigation of Republicans in the bonusgate affair. How convenient for the Republicans, especially considering House Republican candidates will need Ms. Jehu’s notarization services next week when campaign finance reports are due again.

Kanjorski in the Wrong Lane?

A Captain Renault post: In one of the most fascinating Congressional races in the country, incumbent Congressman Paul Kanjorski has been stuck in traffic in the wrong lane as his fellow Democratic candidates for Congress all over the country speed right by him on the road to victory.

Democrats are poised to make big gains in Congress, Obama is leading McCain nationally and certainly will win PA, and voters are choosing a generic Democrat over a generic Republican by clear margins in every poll published anywhere in the last 6 months. Yet Kanjorski has been behind Barletta from the start and continues to remain behind Barletta in all public polls to date.

Most independent observers of Congressional races list Kanjorski as one of the very few seats currently held by a Democrat to be in serious jeopardy. The Swing State Project has been closely monitoring Congressional races all year and they list the PA 11th as 1 of only 4 Democrat seats in the country that could be lost to the Republicans. One of those seats is in TX, another in LA, and the third is held by Democrat Tim Mahoney who is now embroiled in a sex scandal.

How does a Congressman in a district in Northeastern PA with a significant Democrat registration advantage and an Average Democrat Performance advantage of +5 end up on this small, select list at this stage of the campaign season?

Some analysts have pointed to the immigration issue as the key to Barletta's electoral success to date. While I agree that Barletta's shameless hyping of the "dangers" of immigrants living and working in the Hazelton area certainly got him on the map and kick-started his campaign it is hard to believe that the PA 11th will be the only congressional district in the entire country that will be lost to a Democrat because of "the immigration issue". Immigration has faded as an issue nationally as the economic collapse has replaced it in the forefront in voters' minds according to all national and state polls.

If the immigration issue is that potent in this little corner of the country, why are all of the incumbent Democrat State House members either unopposed or facing weak Republican opponents?

There will be many opinions registered on how and why Kanjorski got stuck in the wrong lane as his colleagues drove by to victory if he in fact loses. The bottom line for now is that this is a race that analysts and partisans will be watching very closely over the next few weeks to see if Kanjorski can switch lanes and pull out a win.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Corbett Takes Us Back To Rick's Cafe

A Captain Renualt Post: More and more, Casablanca on the Susquehanna is feeling like home away from home. This week’s courtroom drama has me thinking back to my days at Rick’s Café.

Major Heinrich Strasser: “I advise that this place be shut up at once.”

Captain Louis Renault: “But everybody’s having such a good time.”

Major Heinrich Strasser: “Yes, much too good a time. The place is to be closed.”

Captain Louis Renault: “But I have no excuse to close it.”

Major Heinrich Strasser: “Find one.”

And so I did.

Captain Louis Renault: (POLICE WHISTLE SOUNDS.) “Everybody is to leave here immediately. This café is closed until further notice. Clear the room at once.”

Richard "Rick" Blaine: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Captain Louis Renault: “I’m shocked --- shocked! --- to find that gambling is going on in here.”

Café Porter: “You’re winnings, sir.”

Captain Louis Renault: “Oh, thank you very much. (PAUSE.) Everybody out at once!”

Yes, those were the days. And I thought they were long gone. Well, they’re not --- not even close. Never did I think that my moment of infamy and hypocrisy --- accepting my roulette winnings at the very same time I was shutting down the casino, er, I mean, café’, for gambling --- would ever be topped. (You can watch the full video here: video) But it has, and by leaps and bounds. Let’s examine line by line:

**House Democrats hold a slim lead on the majority. Republicans will do anything they can to ensure that it doesn’t last. --- “I advise that this place be shut up at once.”

**Bonusgate begins, and despite reports that all four legislative caucuses awarded a total of roughly $4 million in bonus payments and Corbett’s promise to follow the evidence where it takes him, only House Democrats are investigated and indicted. The GOP shares a communal laugh --- “But everybody’s having such a good time.”

**Amid celebrations by Corbett’s contributors, friends and allies, reports surface --- finally --- that Republicans are getting rid of computers that might host damaging evidence. The timing was perfect. Corbett delayed his investigation of Republicans long enough to let them try to wash their hands. But pressure begins to mount for fairness, and the partisanship of Corbett’s case becomes clearer. It’s time to execute a new phase of the plan. --- “Yes, much too good a time. The place is to be closed.”

**For appearance sake, Corbett begins to subpoena Republicans, more than a year and half after launching his investigation of Democrats. Finally, the scales of justice are even, right? Wrong. Corbett halts activities and insists he simply “ran out of time” to indict Republicans before the election. --- “But I have no excuse to close it.”

**Which brings us full circle. --- “Find one.”

From day one, the evidence showed that all four legislative caucuses awarded bonuses. Yet, from day one, the pursuing Corbett found reason to investigate only House Democrats, not his friends on the other side of the aisle. From day one, the conspiring Corbett found a way to use his post to make friends and influence people, and elections --- and not just his own, but also those of his Republican campaigning peers.

The Corbett scales of justice lean heavily to one side. And yesterday, the sly Corbett got exactly what he wanted --- headlines, not justice. Imagine the mail pieces being printed right now. GOP “volunteers” are already on the ground ready to start stuffing copies in the door handles of voters in key districts.

From the promise of not wanting to influence elections to making the biggest splash yet just four weeks out from election day, yes, even I, Captain Renualt, am shocked --- shocked! --- but alas, not surprised.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Corbett AGAIN uses Bonusgate to Help Republicans. Gonzales Would Be Proud.

A Captain Renault Post: Yesterday, I was shocked --- shocked! --- to see and hear reports from the Corbett Campaign Courtroom that a testifying witness linked House Democratic Leader H. William DeWeese to politics on the public dime. How could this be, when the campaigning Corbett promised just one month ago not to do anything regarding Bonusgate that might affect the upcoming election? Just as the news stories were outlining possible wrongdoings by Republicans, Corbett calls a halt to any indictments before the election. His rationale? Indictments and news stories about the indictments could impact the election -- and that would be unfair (to Republicans). I am shocked --- shocked!

I have already posted many times on how shockingly absurd Corbett's rationale is for creating this arbitrary timetable. And editorial writers have blasted Corbett for this overtly partisan maneuver.

So what does Corbett do next? In a "shocking" move that would make Alberto Gonzales proud, Corbett schedules a show trial/campaign event/preliminary hearing for the Democrats indicted in Bonusgate just one month before the election. But, he figures, maybe that won't be enough. Maybe such a show trial won't generate enough headlines to be helpful to Republicans. So just to be sure, he brings in a surprise witness -- DeWeese's former chief of staff -- who now implicates DeWeese, the leader of the House Democrats, directly in the Bonusgate allegations.

So Corbett's excuse/explanation for no indictments before the election achieves a level of hypocrisy and cynicism unrivaled since my days at Rick's Cafe.

All of the news stories from Harrisburg will affect DeWeese’s bid for re-election in his home district, just as Corbett’s original indictments and his premeditated courtroom drama have affected all House Democrats in their runs for re-election. All of us in Casablanca on the Susquehanna are shocked --- shocked! --- but not surprised, as this has been the plan all along.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

When The Dog Caught the Car

A Signor Ferrari post:
Much like the dog who finally catches the car, Tom Corbett faces the difficult decision of what to do with it. By November 4, his politically-motivated "Bonusgate" investigation will have outlived its usefulness. Worse, it threatens to backfire and threaten his own political career.

There he was, yapping away at the top of his lungs, dashing down the street after the Democrats. Now reality has slammed its brakes and Corbett has smacked his poor little head against the bumper.

He thought he had a good thing going with his political corruption investigation against the Democrats. First, it give him a big stick of his very own to wield against his likely primary rival, former U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan, who's sitting pretty with his bright shiny prosecution of Vince Fumo. Secondly, it offered his friends in the General Assembly a very real opportunity to recapture a majority in the House.

No doubt, his friends in the legislature - Perzel, Scarnati, Smith and Pileggi - will remember this favor come the Republican gubernatorial primary. He'll need them, along with patrons like Bob Asher, to defeat Meehan.

One can only imagine the slowly creeping sense of horror when Corbett realized the conduct he'd vilified as corrupt and intended to prosecute as crime was simply standard operating procedure - not just for the Democrats, but for those very same friends he'll need to win the gubernatorial nomination.

Consider, for example, the charges Corbett filed against Veon in connection with spending state money on regularly-scheduled dinners with other legislators and staff.

Was it before or after he filed felony charges against Veon that he realized that every single committee chair and member of leadership in the House controls a nearly-identical contingency account used, in most cases, for nearly-identical dinners?

Was it before or after trumpeting to the skies a callow staffer's assessment of a $300 takeout bill as "outrageous" that he discovered the astronomical restaurant tabs his Republican colleagues charged to their own contingency accounts?

Was it before or after he deemed it criminal to accept per-diem payments while dining on the contingency account dime that the House comptroller reassured members there is "no need to adjust per diems" when accepting a House-paid meal consumed on Capitol premises - as were all of the meals for which Veon is charged?

Will our stunned puppy recover from this blow and seize that bumper with his puppy jaws? Whose wrath would he rather risk: that of the voters, who - let's face it - just might not notice or care about his breathtaking hypocrisy? Or that of the Republican movers and shakers, without whose money and support he can kiss his gubernatorial dreams goodbye?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Here Comes the Parade! Corbett is Drum Major

A Captain Renault post: Here comes the parade! AG/SC Tom Corbett is way out in front of the band as the Drum Major. Corbett starts the preliminary hearing/show trial/Corbett re-election parade tomorrow in Dauphin County Court.

The Republican campaign strategy for the last month of the election is right on track. Corbett is following the script and using the Bonusgate investigation just as the Republican party laid it out. The short version of the Republican plan: spend many months investigating just Democrats, give Republicans lots of time to get rid of evidence while you investigate only Democrats, indict Democrats in the summer, run "out of time" to investigate and charge any Republicans before the election, hold a show trial a month before the election. Then help the press write damaging stories about Democrats during the preliminary hearing/show trial.

Perfect. All of the pieces of the plan are falling into place. Corbett is following the script exactly as it was written. Pennsylvania is a key state in the Presidential election and Republicans are looking for any edge they can get. Enter AG/SC Tom Corbett stage right.

Here is a sample from the Beaver County Times of what the media will cover this week and what the stories and headlines will look like:

Bounsgate hearings rake up political stink

By Bill Vidonic Times Staff
Published: Saturday, October 4, 2008 11:04 PM EDT
For Elder Vogel Jr., this week’s “Bonusgate” preliminary hearings couldn’t come at a better time, less than a month before the Nov. 4 general election.

The Republican candidate for the state 47th Senatorial District has been painting his Democratic opponent, Jason Petrella, as a puppet of the same people responsible for an atmosphere of corruption and greed within Harrisburg.

And for the next few days, there will be constant reminders of corruption accusations against Beaver County politicians and staffers, as the hearings begin on Tuesday and are expected to last at least three days.

Read the entire Beaver County Times story here.

I will follow the Corbett re-election parade here all week and will highlight the MSM stories that write it and play it exactly as Corbett and the Republican party planned.

Will leading Democrats stand up to denounce Corbett and the Republicans? Will editorial writers weigh in and at least expose this obvious misuse of Corbett's office and immense power as the state's top law enforcement officer?

Here comes the parade, and somewhere today Karl Rove is smiling. He couldn't have engineered this strategy any better himself.

Developing...more to come.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Corbett and Rs Gets Taxpayer Funded Re-election Boost

A Captain Renault post: It looks like AG/SC Tom Corbett will get his show trial next week. Pack a lunch. This is going to be one hell of a show.

Three of the Democrat defendants had filed a motion to postpone the preliminary hearing/show trial/Corbett campaign event scheduled for next week. The Democrats filing stated that the show trial "could unfairly affect the political process... and likewise create undue influence on voting."

I am sure it is no coincidence that the Democrats used those terms in their filing -- that is the same language Corbett used in September when he announced that he would not indict Republicans before the election. So now we get a taxpayer funded show trial that helps Corbett, benefits Republicans generally, and really helps House Republicans specifically -- just 4 weeks before the election. No "undue influence" in that scenario according to Corbett. I mean, a little taxpayer funded campaign help is no big deal --- right?

Well I am certainly no genius, but I sure can smell hypocrisy and double standards from a mile away. So let me see if I have this right. The State House Democrats have a 1 vote majority margin, all House members are up for re-election, Republicans all over the state are using "Bonusgate" against Democrats in campaigns, no Republicans get charged before the election, PA is a key state in the race for President, Corbett is in a tight race for re-election, so he schedules a preliminary hearing on charges brought against only Democrats which will get huge amounts of publicity all over the state one month before the election.

OK. I get it. You have to admit, it is one hell of an audacious campaign strategy by Corbett and the Republican party. If Corbett can pull this off without real condemnation by all of the "reform" groups, editorial writers, and anyone who cares about a fair judicial and political process, then he should get the National Republican of the Year Award -- or maybe the Alberto Gonzales Award --or both.

Developing...more to come.

Motion to Postpone Filed. Will McCorbett have to Suspend his Campaign?

Captain Renault News Flash: I can confirm that as of this morning at least one motion was filed by a lawyer representing a Democrat defendant to postpone Corbett's show trial/prelim hearing/campaign event scheduled for next week. I will post a copy of the motion when I can get it.

Will McCorbett have to "suspend" his campaign next week a la John McCain if there is no show trial for him to use as material for his re-election?

The motion does use Corbett's own words, reported in various newspapers, for the reason to request the postponement. Corbett has said that he would not bring additional charges (against Republicans?) in the Bonusgate investigation before the election because he didn't want to "unduly influence" the voters with pre-election publicity about possibly wrongdoings by legislators.

So instead of indicting Republicans before the election, Corbett plans a show trial/preliminary hearing of Democrat defendants one month before the election. There will be lots of press coverage of course where Corbett gets to act like the avenging prosecutor. No "undue influence" in that he says.

Where is the outrage from the state's editorial boards on this obvious use of the justice system to benefit the campaign of someone running for the top cop in our state? Where is the outrage form the state's leading Democrats and the Morganelli campaign? Are the bloggers (see Checking the Balance too) the only ones who are covering this part of the story and willing to make the point?

Developing...more to come.

News Flash: Motion to Postpone Corbett's Campaign?

A Captain Renault News Flash: I got a tip today from a reader that saw my post earlier today on AG/SC Corbett's show trial for next week -- the preliminary hearing for the Democrats charged in the Bonusgate investigation. This reader sent me an email indicating that he/she heard that a motion or motions were filed by one or some of the lawyers representing the Democrat defendants asking the court to postpone the preliminary hearing until after the election.

The tip came in after the courthouse was closed so I could not check for any filed motions. I will try again in the morning and update with anything I find out.

The tipster suggested that the rationale provided by the lawyers for the defendants in requesting the motion to postpone was the very same rationale that Corbett provided for not indicting Republicans before the election. In many public comments by Corbett in September, he said there should be no justice system action on Bonusgate until after the election because it would be unfair to candidates, to the voters, and would" influence the elections". Oh, and Corbett doesn't think his scheduled show trial of indicted Democrats one month before the election will "influence the election". It's just incredible he gets away with this stuff.

This was an anonymous email tip so I will have to check the courthouse and update here. If there is a motion to postpone, I hope it is successful. That would be at least a thimble full of justice in this absurdly partisan investigation by Corbett. Oh, and Corbett would have to spend his own campaign money next week for publicity and good campaign material instead of the taxpayers money. (A Renault Hypocrisy Alert -- isn't that what he charged the Democrats with? Isn't that what Bonusgate is supposed to be all about?)

Developing....more to come.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Show (Trial) Goes On

A Captain Renault post: I don't know. Maybe it is just me. But I see some high level hypocrisy in everything Tom Corbett does.

But Corbett sure makes it easy to call him a hypocrite who also knows how to do the double standard shuffle.

Here's the latest example. First Attorney General Tom Corbett claims there are no politics involved in his decision to not indict Republicans in the Bonusgate investigation before the election.

You see, he just "ran out of time". There is just not enough time before the election to complete the investigation of Republicans. It would not be fair, Corbett says, to have so much media attention on indicted Republicans right before the election.

Oh, but he has time to hold a "show trial" called a preliminary hearing for those Democrats indicted starting next week in Harrisburg just 4 weeks before the Novemeber 4th election. So he gets to play the big, bad prosecutor with the whole state as his stage just a month before the voters decide if he gets re-elected. The PA press will eat this up. And that no doubt is just what Corbett figured when he scheduled the indictments and the preliminary hearing.

Is it just me? Where is the outrage? Where are the editorial boards calling for the postponement of this show trial until after the election? Where are the Democrats who should be calling Corbett out on this? Where are the reporters who should at least be working on this story?

Instead of using the justice system (and public money and staff) to further his re-election effort, Corbett should file a motion to postpone this show trial/hearing until after the election. Corbett should put his money -- I mean our money -- where his considerable mouth is. Stop the show trial. This is one concrete step Corbett can take now to avoid even more and worse political motivations from being injected into this Bonusgate fiasco.

So you heard it here first. Will Corbett do it? Will at least someone in the media editorialize that he should? Will any Democrat step up?

Developing...more to come.

State House Republican Candidates Need A Lifeline. They Phone a Friend: Tom Corbett

A Captain Renault post: No one in the Republican Party can say that Attorney General and Space Cadet Tom Corbett isn't doing his part to save the Republicans in this election year. Corbett is earning big points with the statewide Republican leaders for his all-but-announced race for Governor in 2010.

As this article by John Micek of the Allentown Morning call points out, the Republican party and it's candidates in PA are in a bad spot right now. Barack Obama is likely to win the state, Democrat registration is up everywhere, and there is a real enthusiasm gap between the parties.

From the Morning Call: John Micek: "Four weeks before Election Day, figuring out whether House Democrats or Republicans will emerge victorious in this year's state legislative races is harder than deciphering the ending of ''The Sopranos.''

At first blush, this is a political season that should be blowing the Democrats' way. Voters are sour on the economy, the party has registered hundreds of thousands of new voters, and in Barack Obama there's a candidate atop the ticket who has energized the party faithful.

But there's a major buzz-kill: the public-cash-for-political-gain scandal known as Bonusgate that so far has resulted in the arrests of a dozen current and former House Democrats on a litany of corruption and theft charges.

And that's where Republicans are hoping to score, particularly in conservative areas such as western Pennsylvania. The GOP hopes Bonusgate rekindles outrage over the short-lived 2005 legislative pay raise."

Captain Renault: So let's see if I have this right. The Republicans are in the minority by 1 seat in the State House. Things don't look so good. But then Republican candidates for the State House used a Lifeline. They phoned a friend. And Tom Corbett picked up the phone and gave them the answer. In fact he had the answer all year and it's called Bonusgate.

Tom Corbett Lifeline answer was to do the most important thing he could do to help Republicans win the State House this year: "investigate" House Democrats for 18 months and indict some before the election and then "run out of time" to investigate and charge any Republicans by election day. Throw in some vague statements about "investigating all 4 caucuses" and you have the answer for the politically vulnerable House Republicans in a year favoring Democrats: use Bonusgate as an example of the corrupt Democrats in Harrisburg as your best (and this year only) campaign attack.

It's a brilliant strategy in the short term. That is if you can include the term brilliant when you describe a strategy that undermines and politicizes the justice system. And it is brilliant in the short term if you can get most of the press corps that covers PA politics to go to sleep, ignore, or dismiss the obvious political motivations of the strategy. And it is brilliant in the short term if most of the Democrats are too scared, too wimpy, or too dumb to fight back and call Corbett the partisan political hack that he is.

In the long term? Maybe not so brilliant. Why not? Two words -- Alberto Gonzales.

It has now been proven that Gonzales and his allies in the Justice Department and the White House clearly made the US Justice Department their political playhouse. The result was ruined careers, subversion of justice, political US Attorneys with incredible corrupted power, political indictments, cases (good and bad) dismissed by Judges because of the unfair taint of politics, investigations and hearing in the US Congress.

Politics in the justice system? It does happen. It did happen. Someday the news media in PA may cover this part of the Bonusgate story. Someday Corbett -- and the people of PA -- may pay for his abuse of the justice system.

But for now, Tom Corbett has provided the State House Republicans with his Lifeline answer: Bonusgate Democrats.

Developing....more to come.

Columnists DeCoursey Nails (Corbett) It

Pete DeCousrsey really did nail the absurdity of Corbett's excuses for not indicting Republicans before the election so we post the entire Column here.

OFF THE FLOOR: Will Corbett's self-granted Bonusgate extension satisfy

A Capitolwire Column

By Peter L. DeCoursey
Bureau Chief

HARRISBURG (Sept. 23) - At least Tom Corbett didn't say the dog ate his sense of fairness, or unruly mice ate all of his leads into the Republicans.

But his excuses for charging Democrats, and only Democrats before this election, had that smack of bad high school excuses.

It made me think of the time, back in high school, I once asked a teacher for an extension on a major paper, a 30-pager at a minimum.

He asked me: "When did you start on it?"

I told him "two days ago," about a project that would take at least 30 hours of concentrated work.

The teacher, quite reasonably, said he would be inclined to cut me a break if I had started in time, but since I started too late to conceivablycomplete it in time, "it will affect your grade, and my opinion of you."

So my first reaction to Attorney General Tom Corbett's announcement that there will be no more charges before the election, because he lacked time to present info to the grand jury, was: "When did you start?"

Well, Corbett started looking into the House Democrats in March 2007 and seized their records that summer, months before he sought or seized any records from other caucuses.

Then, 16 months after he began his probe, he charged one former House member, Rep. Mike Veon, D-Beaver, one current member, Rep. Sean Ramaley, D-Beaver, and 10 former or suspended House Democratic staffers, with official corruption charges.

So he seized their stuff first, got around to looking at the computer records of others months to a half-year later, and apparently waited until he finished charging Democrats before he began summoning Republicans before the grand jury.

Now after weeks of stories about the tough questions Corbett and his investigators have apparently been asking various House Republicans, and the records he is poring over from Senate Republicans, we are told that, darn it, Corbett ran out of time before he could charge anyone else.

Gosh, that is more convenient than the time I watched a public school teacher punish only four of eight kids who beat up another kid, because the teacher said graduation was coming and he ran out of time.

Or the time a kid at a big Philly private school whose parents were big donors forgot to do his independent study senior project, and graduated anyway, because he just ran out of time, and heck, no one wanted to hold that against him.

Both were examples of favoritism, pure and simple, and gosh, this has the
same smell as that.

Corbett says he doesn't have the time now to present all the evidence he has to the grand jury, and that the election is an "artificial deadline" created by others. And he thinks it is improper to charge someone before the election if his ducks aren't perfectly in a row.

And that statement is entirely right. Corbett shouldn't charge people until he has the evidence lined up and it is sufficiently convincing to merit presentation to the grand jury.

But he began this investigation more than 18 months ago. He could have decided to investigate both parties from the start. He did not, even though, from the recent newspaper accounts, it appears he had good leads about Republicans as well as the information he suspected and then alleged about House Democrats.

All those years ago, the teacher told me I delayed on purpose. I denied the charge, just as Corbett will say he didn't time his investigation to have the clock run out just as the House Republicans are dripping with investigation fear sweat.

But I knew what was coming, and could have made time for it. So could have Corbett.

The most insulting part is Corbett's comment that elections are "artificial deadlines."

He had 19 months to tell voters which legislators and staffers he believed to be corrupt, a type of information most voters want very much before re-election season. Prosecuting official corruption and informing voters by charging people is his job.

Instead, Corbett oversaw an investigation that managed to take nearly 19 months so far, and only charge House Democrats before a re-election, where he, a partisan Republican, is running for re-election. And in an election where many believe he could lose, especially if eastern Republicans dumped him, because, say, he just indicted a bunch of their pals, again, the smell here isn't quite right.

So what happens now? Well, there is no teacher to grade Corbett, just 5 million or 6 million voters who will decide how serious his "Incomplete" on this investigation should be.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Dog Ate the Republican Indictments

A Captain Renault post: Attorney General and Space Cadet Tom Corbett's recent announcement that there would be no more indictments in the Bonusgate investigation before the election continues to draw stinging criticism from people, reporters, editorial boards, and organizations all over the state.

Corbett's excuses and explanations for not investigating Republicans sooner or faster and not indicting Republicans before the election would be laughable - funny even - if he were not the top law enforcement officer of the state.

The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal weighed in on Monday with an editorial that said:

"...but this delay is distressing because it's believed that Corbett's investigation is now focusing on possible wrongdoing inside the Republican House and Senate caucuses. After perp-walking the Democrats in July, Corbett - a Republican who is seeking re-election - is now giving his party a bit of a breather. It also brings the specter of partisanship into the situation..."

In a September 23rd column, Capitolwire Bureau Chief Pete DeCoursey really nailed it. Here is the first part of his column:

DeCoursey: "HARRISBURG (Sept. 23) - At least Tom Corbett didn't say the dog ate his sense of fairness, or unruly mice ate all of his leads into the Republicans.

But his excuses for charging Democrats, and only Democrats before this election, had that smack of bad high school excuses.

It made me think of the time, back in high school, I once asked a teacher for an extension on a major paper, a 30-pager at a minimum.

He asked me: "When did you start on it?"

I told him "two days ago," about a project that would take at least 30 hours of concentrated work.

The teacher, quite reasonably, said he would be inclined to cut me a break if I had started in time, but since I started too late to conceivably complete it in time, "it will affect your grade, and my opinion of you."

So my first reaction to Attorney General Tom Corbett's announcement that there will be no more charges before the election, because he lacked time to present info to the grand jury, was: "When did you start?"

Well, Corbett started looking into the House Democrats in March 2007 and seized their records that summer, months before he sought or seized any records from other caucuses.

Then, 16 months after he began his probe, he charged one former House member, Rep. Mike Veon, D-Beaver, one current member, Rep. Sean Ramaley, D-Beaver, and 10 former or suspended House Democratic staffers, with official corruption charges.

So he seized their stuff first, got around to looking at the computer records of others months to a half-year later, and apparently waited until he finished charging Democrats before he began summoning Republicans before the grand jury.

Now after weeks of stories about the tough questions Corbett and his investigators have apparently been asking various House Republicans, and the records he is poring over from Senate Republicans, we are told that, darn it, Corbett ran out of time before he could charge anyone else.

Gosh, that is more convenient than the time I watched a public school teacher punish only four of eight kids who beat up another kid, because the teacher said graduation was coming and he ran out of time.

Or the time a kid at a big Philly private school whose parents were big donors forgot to do his independent study senior project, and graduated anyway, because he just ran out of time, and heck, no one wanted to hold that against him.

Both were examples of favoritism, pure and simple, and gosh, this has the same smell as that."

Captain Renault: There are very few people in the PA political arena who believe it is a coincidence that Corbett took 18 months to only investigate House Democrats -- despite clear evidence of similar alleged wrongdoings by House and Senate Republicans -- and then "ran out of time" to charge any Republicans before the election.

We all know this is an important election year. PA is an important battleground in the race for President. Corbett is up for re-election. The State House Democrats have a 1 seat majority. Republican former Speaker John Perzel is in a tough race. Corbett had an active and strong presence at the Republican National convention a month ago. You don't have to take much of a leap to figure out that Corbett is determined to do his part for the Republican party before election day.

Read the entire DeCoursey column in this post. Developing...lots more to come.