An Ugarte post--
Under the Capitol dome, there is a recurring question regarding partisan Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett's bonusgate investigation. Republican staff, Democratic staff, House members from both parties, nearly everyone in the building is asking the same thing, "Why isn't Corbett investigating the House Republican Department of District Operations?"
Many of you are sending me incredulous emails that wonder how Corbett can fail to investigate what - by every measure Corbett used to indict his political adversaries - appears to be a House Republican caucus in-house political operation.
Who has been performing the House Republicans' candidate recruitment, list building, fundraising, and campaign organizing? And what exactly is included in the "constituent outreach," performed by the Department of District Operations? A fair investigation by the Attorney General's Office would have turned up answers by now.
Since 2004, the House Republican caucus has employed 19 "Regional Coordinators" who worked in the Department of District Operations. (Supplemental List of House Employees 2/16/07 and 2/1/08) At least 17 of them are known and active political operatives. Click on their names to see the campaign expenditures for each (over $330,000 since 2004 total):
William Wade – no known reimbursements
Victor Orkis – no known reimbursements
Even when subtracting Scott Migli's $88,000 for his time as the Executive Director of the Republican State Committee, these "Regional Coordinators" received nearly $250,000 from campaigns over the last three election cycles.
These Regional Coordinators (all former or current Republican campaign operatives) were parked in the House Republican Caucus and would go about their day working on "incumbent protection" and, at a date late in the campaign year in a weak attempt at keeping up appearances, would receive a "salary" from a campaign, the HRCC or the Republican State Party.
For several years, the Department of District Operations has been supervised by the celebrated political operative John Hanley, first under the direction of Brian Preski and now under Tony Aliano.
Everyone in the Capitol is familiar with Hanley's campaign work, especially PoliticsPA.com who named this public employee to their political operative "Dream Team" in 2002.
Since 2004, Hanley has racked up over $90,000 in campaign reimbursements.
Many Harrisburg insiders are very curious as to why there have been no subpoenas issued by Corbett to Hanley and the Regional Coordinators under his supervision, both past and present.
While Perzel, Preski and Republican Caucus IT staff have been a hot topic (Tribune Review 9/10/08 and Post Gazette 9/11/08), Corbett apparently is ignoring the Department of District Operations, which was just as firmly under the iron grip of Perzel and Preski.
Perhaps Corbett believes that, because Perzel and Preski are no longer in charge at the House Republican Caucus, questionable activity has ceased? He must have missed it last month, when Sam Smith signed a two year contract with Laurel Group Consultants. Check the contract out for yourself here.
Some of you are familiar with Laurel Group and its owner, Daphne Uliana (wife of former Republican legislator and lobbyist Joe Uliana.) Laurel Group is a key consultant to Republican candidates, especially HRCC and John Perzel's campaign.
The House Republican Caucus is paying Laurel Group $132,000 ($5,500 per month over two years) "to aid the Caucus Department of District Operations in implementing outreach programs for members and otherwise consulting on the operation of district offices" and "shall perform its duties under the supervision of John Hanley."
It's doubtful Smith would attempt such a blatant move if there were any danger Corbett might examine the caucus' activities with anything like the scrutiny he brought to bear on his political adversaries.
These facts are a matter of public record. Corbett is either deliberately ignoring them or is somehow, inexplicably, unaware of them.
A well-known political consultant, Daphne Uliana, is being paid with state funds and is being supervised by a state employee, John Hanley, who is also a well-known political operative to work with the state paid staff Hanley oversees who are also very active politically to assist Republican members with their "constituent outreach," a task many in Harrisburg believe is a thinly veiled use of state funds for campaign purposes.
Don't you think that warrants a closer look from Corbett?
Demand that Corbett bring balance to his bonusgate investigation!