Thursday, January 29, 2009

Corbett: Ignoring the evidence and looking the other way

An Ugarte post:

I was asked to post this email that was recently sent to the House Democrats.

House Democrats:

Conventional wisdom has it that partisan Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett is certain to bring bonusgate related charges against Republican members and staff in the state House and Senate caucuses.

And, this would be a reasonable assumption based on what everyone knows to be true.

It is no secret that Republicans have used state resources for political purposes. ("A tangled web at statehouse" 2/18/07 Philadelphia Inquirer)

And, everyone knows Republican staff worked on campaigns while on the clock for the state. Just this week in sworn testimony during the Fumo trial, Paul Dlugolecki testified "the culture was such that [campaigning on state time] was practiced by virtually everyone in Harrisburg…It's something that occurred across the board." ("Ex-Fumo aide says campaign work was routine" Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/28/09)

Regardless, it is still very likely that Corbett could look the other way. He has ignored substantial amounts of evidence before for a political ally!

In 2005, a civil suit was brought against York County District Attorney Stan Rebert that made some very damaging claims regarding Rebert's management of his office. See the original filing here.

These claims were so credible and damaging that, even though York County is overwhelmingly Republican, one of your more politically astute Democratic colleagues, Eugene DePasquale, filed to run against Rebert. DePasquale was later forced to withdraw due to Hatch Act provisions. ("Dem drops out of DA race" York Dispatch, 3/24/2005)

Under pressure to call for an independent investigation of his office, Rebert had several options on who to choose to conduct the investigation: the Pennsylvania State Police, the York Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission, or his close political ally Attorney General Tom Corbett. ("No DA probe without complaint" York Dispatch 2/23/05)

Not surprisingly, Rebert chose his Republican buddy Tom Corbett. Both men have endorsed and supported one another over the years in their campaigns. ("AG candidate stumps here" York Dispatch, 4/15/04; "DA Stan Rebert launches re-election" York Dispatch 1/9/09)

Corbett and his investigators then proceeded to ignore the evidence and look the other way.

Nearly a year later, Corbett's office issued a letter exonerating Rebert stating, "The Office of the Attorney General has concluded that no criminal charges will result from Ms. Downing's allegations." The letter was signed by the very same top investigator in charge of the bonusgate mess, Frank Fina.

At the time, Corbett's spokesman Kevin Harley said, "Our burden is to determine whether or not any criminal laws were violated. We determined there were none (broken). We did a thorough criminal investigation into each and every one of the allegations raised in (Downing's) complaint." ("No criminal charges for Rebert" York Dispatch, 1/27/06)

Harley is lying. There was nothing thorough about Corbett's investigation. Corbett chose to ignore the evidence and look the other way.

In a series of depositions for the civil trial, witnesses corroborated the charges made in the lawsuit against Rebert, many of them clearly illegal. All these sworn statements were taken while Corbett was supposedly conducting his investigation.("Deposition details allegations" York Daily Record, 2/21/06)

Check just a few parts of just a few of the depositions for yourself by clicking on the links below.

Employees described how they or others had to do personal errands like buying dog food for Rebert's pets, delivered a tv to his home, how they took Rebert's family to Lancaster's train station multiple times, paid his personal bills, made his doctor's appointments and even his pets' veterinarian appointments. All while on duty!

Employees described how they stuffed envelopes and put together yard signs at the District Attorney's office. All while on duty!

Employees described how Rebert's wife was provided a cell phone she used for her personal use and paid for by Drug Task force funds. The staff person in charge of the Drug Task force funds knowingly paid for her bills.

Employees described how Rebert kept a county owned couch at his house and only removed it when his possession could have come up at a trial (shockingly one of Corbett's agents was at the meeting where the decision to move the couch from Rebert's house was made.)

Employees described how Rebert kept slot machines the district attorney's office had seized at his home.

Employees described how Rebert had a detective while on duty use county funds to buy ammunition for the York Republican County Chair.

Employees described how vehicles seized by the drug task force were handed out to detectives to use for their own personal use (including vacations) and the drug task force paid for their gas regardless of whether it was used for personal use. Corbett ignoring this abuse of the drug task force funds and vehicles is especially shocking considering that in Lycoming County he delved into similar abuses which resulted in felony charges in 2007.

These are just a small sampling of the evidence found in sworn depositions that Corbett's investigators ignored.

There were also sworn statements regarding very serious criminal actions, including the abuse of criminal databases to do research for local politicians ("Data access raises concerns" York Daily Record, 6/27/06), Rebert's personal use of a seized firearm ("One man's aim to get his gun back" York Sunday Record, 7/30/06) and the rampant misappropriation of drug task force funds ("Task force oversight questioned" York Daily Record, 7/4/06).

Corbett ignored repeated calls from the media to re-examine the evidence once the depositions came to light. ("Deposition raises questions" York Daily Record, 2/28/06)

Eventually, after a judge rejected Rebert's attempts to keep very damaging cell phone records, emails and drug task force documents secret and out of his civil trial ("DAs motion is rejected" York Daily Record, 3/31/06), Rebert settled the lawsuit. ("200k payout and its over" York Dispatch, 7/7/06)

Rebert clearly did not want what Corbett ignored to be revealed at the impending trial.

Corbett chose to look the other way and ignore all this evidence to keep his friend Stan Rebert out of trouble. Imagine the lengths Corbett could go to so his some of his largest campaign contributors – the Republican House and Senate Caucuses – will stay out of hot water.


Anonymous said...

Check out state Rep. Jim Christiana's taxpayer-funded website

If you sit through the video on "Pay to Play" on his front page, you will then notice links to his campaign commercials.

Didn't some of his fellow Beaver County legislators just get indicted for campaigning on the taxpayer dime?

Ugarte said...

Thanks anonymous! You make a very good point. Corbett seems to selectively pick and choose who is wrong and who is right when it comes to what constitutes campaign work.

I'll check it out!

Anonymous said...

Along the same lines take a look at this one

Seems like Mikey likes shooting TV spots in tax-payer owned buildings.

Can this be legal?

Anonymous said...

Why did AG Corbett sue Blugreen Resorts for using "Sweepstakes" entry forms to circumvent the "Do Not Call" provisions, despite an admirable reputation.

On the other hand, Sundance Vacations, which has a nefarious reputation, is ignored for doing EXACTLY what Bluegreen Resorts does; use "Sweepstakes" entry forms as a means of circumventing the "Do Not Call" provisions.

That's called selective prosecution, pure and simple!