Monday, January 12, 2009


A Captain Renault post: Here is a great article by a good reporter at The Bulletin in Philadelphia. Reporter Chris Freind has been investigating the "pay to play" culture in PA for the past few months and has done a better job than anyone else of connecting all the dots. Freind's work is often overlooked because he doesn't write for one of the bigger papers in the state but his work is always very solid, well researched, and always helps the reader put the whole story in some context. He really does connect all the dots in this story.

"Pay to play" has been getting lots of attention lately because of the Blagojevich story in Illinois and because Gov. Richardson had to withdraw as Obama's Commerce Secretary while a grand jury investigates pay to play allegations in his administration in New Mexico. The PA House and Senate Republicans have also been working the issue hard and have promised to introduce and try to pass legislation to prohibit and curtail certain no-bid contracts and campaign contributions. Freind's Bulletin story is likely to add more fuel to the fire. Friend adds up the no-bid work given to the confidantes, preferred law firms and preferred contractors of Gov. Rendell and his administration. The totals spent on the no-bid work is in the millions and millions of dollars over Rendell's term. By coincidence, Rendell has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from those same law firms and contractors.

There has been much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands in the State Capitol over the Bonusgate investigation. And there have been hundreds of news articles written. But it's the same old story of hypocrisy in politics. We know there is a grand jury investigation of the money some staff people allegedly received for doing political work on state time. These staff people from what I can see were mostly mid-level staff making moderate salaries. I assume that if they were wrong they will pay the price. But in the meantime, as Chris Freind's article points out, the super-lawyers and the politically connected law firms and contractors figure out how to make the real money in state government. No Grand Jury. No investigation.

It reminds of the classic scene in a western movie I watched a few weeks ago. While the Sheriff and his deputies in the small town rushed out to the scene of the staged big fight and gunshots in the saloon, the rest of gang robbed the bank and made off with all the money.

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