Sunday, November 30, 2008


We hope you are enjoying the long weekend. At CasablancaPA we are resting and relaxing and getting ready for the week. Attorney General and Space Cadet Tom Corbett's hypocrisy, double standards and hyper-partisan use of the AG's office keeps us busy so we're glad to have a holiday weekend to rest.

We're back on Dec 1.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A great way to save $200k

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.

House Democrats:

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


A Captain Renault post: My view is that Corbett feels safe and secure now that the election is over and he was comfortably re-elected. Within days of the election, Attorney General and Space Cadet Corbett started walking backwards from his promised oh-so-soon-just-not-before-the-election indictment of Republicans. We were amazed that more reporters and editorial boards didn't take him to task for his fancy dance backwards. Most of the MSM continue to disbelieve that Corbett has a partisan agenda and wants to use Bonusgate as his stepping tone to the Governor's office. This despite the fact that the AG and his crew have now spent almost 2 years investigating and indicting Democrats and pushes off "into the future" any day of reckoning for Republicans.

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


A Captain Renault post: It's official. We all know by now that the House Democrats voted on their leadership posts for the upcoming session yesterday. Incredibly (to the rest of the world), they decided to continue the state's longest running soap opera show with it's main character -- Bill DeWeese -- for at least another two years. Or is it at least until DeWeese is indicted? Either way, the show goes on!

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

Evidence Not Destroyed

An Ugarte post:

A fan of CasablancaPA gave me some interesting documents and asked me to post the email sent to the House Democrats. Enjoy!

House Democrats:

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.
Just a quick review of a few random Republicans shows that tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to the House Republican Campaign Committee were funneled through State Capitol and District offices. The reports also show how Republican Caucus staff members were organizing HRCC meetings and HRCC retreats.

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.
Rep. Gordon Denlinger wanted to make sure someone in the State Capitol got this check for a HRCC retreat in 2004.
Maybe it was Jeanne Schmedlen?
Rep. Adam Harris sent his check for the HRCC political retreat to Schmedlen's office in the Ryan Office Building. You can see it here.

It is likely Schmedlen handled this check from Rep. David Millard in 2006, too.
Did Jeanne Schmedlen spend most of her time organizing events and retreats and meetings for the HRCC? Corbett should subpoena her to force her to answer questions in front of a grand jury.

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)
Do you think Katie was doing the right thing when she sent these contributions to the HRCC at the State Capitol in 2006, early 2007 and late 2007? What a blatant hypocrite!

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.
House Republican Capitol and district office staff weren't handling HRCC checks only.
Apparently Frank Linn was running a campaign out of his State Capitol Office. Here is a check from Geist to Frank Linn headquarters in the Capitol.

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


A Captain Renault post: Lots of news reports and speculation in the last few days on the battles for the elected leadership posts in the House Democrat and Republican caucuses. I can't imagine there is much interest in the general public for who gets elected to most of these leadership positions within each caucus (I understand the elected Caucus Administrator, for example, is in charge of parking spots and office space). But the political junkies and the lobbying community hang on every reported word written. Every half hour there is another rumor spread throughout the Capitol, some by design and some by ignorance.

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.


A Captain Renault post: My post earlier today about Rep John Perzel raining down campaign money on his taxpayer paid current Chief of Staff Paul Towhey) reminded me to go back and look at some articles I recalled about Perzel doing the exact same thing with his former chief of staff.

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.


A Captain Renault post: Yesterday we posted a fun story by Capitolwire reporter Pete DeCoursey on Rep. John Perzel's payments to a political operative for his services to provide opposition research on members of his own party.

(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


A Captain Renault post: Pete DeCoursey of Capitolwire published an interesting story today about John Perzel paying a political consultant for opposition research on House members in his own caucus. DeCoursey often reports on the real inside scoop on the intracaucus politics of the House and Senate Republican and Democrat caucuses. It is usually fun stuff to read.

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


A Captain Renault post: Right on cue and as expected and planned, the Corbett Bonusgate investigation and pre-election indictment of Democrats proved to be a jackpot for the House and Senate GOP. With Corbett's very significant help, the state House and Senate GOP were able to weather the huge Obama storm in PA.

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.

Back In Action

A Captain Renault post: We're back in action here at CasablancaPA. After a few days off for some travel and celebrating the change in the course of the country it's time to get back to work on the blog. Unfortunately we didn't change the course as much in PA. With Tom Corbett's win there is STILL so much work to do and even more hypocrisy to cover and uncover.

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


A Captain Renault post: Attorney General and Space Cadet Tom Corbett has obviously been very busy lately. Between campaigning for re-election, working on the Bonusgate investigation (same as campaigning for re-election), rallying the Republican troops for McCain's election in PA, burying any wrongdoings by Republicans, and fending off various lawsuits filed against him by former employees, Corbett just hasn't had time to shop for some new clothes.

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!"


A Captain Renault post: As a sure sign of their increasing desperation, the Republican party in PA has gone deep into the reservoir of hate politics to run an ad that McCain at one point in his ever-changing campaign said he would not allow on the air. (McCain's campaign strategy day to day = change you can count on).

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.