Friday, February 27, 2009

Corbett: "Dude, where's my evidence?"

I was asked to post this email that was sent to the House Democratic caucus today.
House Democrats:

One thing partisan Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett loves to talk about and use as a campaign issue is all the work he does prosecuting perverts and sexual predators.

Hey, who doesn’t want criminals like that locked up? Thanks Tom! We also appreciate your strong support for motherhood and apple pie.

What Corbett doesn’t want you to know is that he draws the line on aggressively investigating and prosecuting sexual crimes if the suspect is a political supporter.

Yesterday, Corbett’s office announced it would not press rape charges against the Republican District Attorney for Bedford County, William Higgins.

Kevin Harley, Corbett’s spokesperson and taxpayer funded political spokesman, justified the decision on the non-arrest by saying:

No one should be surprised at Corbett’s inability to find enough evidence against his buddy Higgins considering that Higgins has supported Corbett’s campaigns in the past and is a 2004 and 2008 campaign contributor.

In fact, partisan political prosecutor Tom Corbett has a history of failing to find the needed evidence when it comes to investigating his political allies, particularly Republican District Attorneys.

The best example is Corbett’s laughable investigation and subsequent exoneration of his long-time supporter Republican District Attorney Stan Rebert in York County. ("No criminal charges for Rebert" York Dispatch, 1/27/06)

None of it mattered to Corbett because Rebert was a Republican and was a loyal ally. ("AG candidate stumps here" York Dispatch, 4/15/04; "DA Stan Rebert launches re-election" York Dispatch 1/9/09)

Again, Corbett trotted out his spokesman and taxpayer funded political spokesperson, Kevin Harley to say:

"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)

This should all sound very familiar to you!

Chances are good that Corbett will treat the Republican caucuses in his bonusgate investigation as favorably as he does his District Attorney friends.

The Republican Senate and House caucuses have been the source of hundreds of thousands of dollars for Corbett’s campaign. If he can turn his head for allies who give him a fraction of that amount, imagine what Corbett is capable of for that kind of money.

Refer back to Harley’s statement yesterday regarding the Bedford DA.

''We have disproved [the complainant's] private criminal complaint based on the absence of sufficient evidence to support the existence of probable cause to believe that a crime has occurred.”

You should be prepared to hear the same rationale from Corbett when it comes to the Republican caucuses.

The House Republicans destroyed their hard drives and servers over the summer and fall of 2007. (Patriot News 8/3/08) Appallingly, it was done with the complete knowledge of Corbett and his investigators. House Republican spokesperson Steve Miskin freely admits it:

"The attorney general's investigators were consulted about the changeover of computers, Miskin said." (Tribune Review, 10/16/08)

Unsurprisingly, Corbett has already started to “complain” that he can’t find the evidence he needs:

“The subpoena for documents from the Republicans so far has failed to produce the sort of chain of communication that prosecutors believe will establish their case.” (Post Gazette 12/5/08)

“One GOP source said investigators appeared to be exasperated because they had not unearthed evidence incriminating House Republicans, as they appear to have done with Democrats. ‘They are not finding a smoking gun,’ the source said.” (Inquirer 12/5/08)

How convenient for the Republican caucuses!

Corbett even put on a faux emergency hearing to “pry” evidence from the House Republicans. So, two years after the investigation began and 18 months after destroying their hard drives, the Republicans turned over more of what Corbett should have demanded in 2007, not 2009:

“Following that hearing, Republicans provided Corbett's office with records ranging from e-mails and memos to news releases. Republicans said they previously provided Corbett with voluminous records. But when the release of some records came into dispute, there were issues of ‘clarity’ about which records Corbett wanted, Miskin said." (Tribune Review 2/20/09)

The end result from Corbett is going to be another weak statement from Harley saying that there just wasn’t enough evidence.

It worked when Corbett was tasked with investigating Republican Rebert in York. He’s banking on it to work for Republican Higgins in Bedford. And, unless you demand balance from him, Corbett will do it again with his bonusgate investigation of the Republican caucuses.

The single question Corbett asks himself when it comes to any action he takes with bonusgate is “How will this affect the big money Republicans I need to bankroll my Republican gubernatorial primary?”

Aggressively investigating and indicting Republicans like John Perzel, Brian Preski, Bob Jubelier, Mike Long, Chip Brightbill and Drew Crompton will not be welcome news to all the big money in the Republican Party who have funded Corbett in the past and who he needs to fund him for his efforts in the 2010 Republican primary.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


A Captain Renault post: The St. Mary's Daily Press recently conducted on online poll with it's readers on former Rep. Dan Surra's new job. Surra served a long time as the State Representative in the St. Mary's area and he was re-elected many times before his loss last November. By all accounts, Surra was a good legislator who worked hard and had some solid legislative achievements during his career.

But it looks his new job has wiped out any reservoir of good will in his home town area. Looking at this poll, I bet he's glad he will never have to face the local voters again -- or any voters anywhere for that matter.

It will be very interesting to see if the Republicans go along with a Surra selection as Chief Clerk of the House.


A Captain Renault post: The Capitol hallway rumors grow louder that former Democrat Rep. Dan Surra is in line to be the next Chief Clerk of the House. We posted this blog a couple weeks ago and since then the current Chief Clerk Roger Nick has been more public with his decision to retire.

This sounds like a plan by the House Dems and Rendell to get rid of the loud chorus of criticism Rendell has been facing for his hiring of Surra. Rendell has announced the likelihood of layoffs of state employees so the hiring of Surra by Rendell has been getting a huge dose of boos and catcalls from state employees and their union officials.

But by naming Surra as the Chief Clerk do the House Dems just transfer all of the criticism from Rendell's back to their own? Chief Clerk of the House is a plum job that pays close to $150,000/year. It's a nice reward for Surra's long tenure in the House. But the Chief Clerk has to be elected by the full House of Representatives so it will be interesting to see if the Republicans will go along with a Surra pick. Mid-state Republicans have been especially critical of Rendell's hiring of Surra and asked the Governor to fire him. Are these same Republicans going to go along quietly and vote for Surra as the new Chief Clerk of the House. Stay tuned - this should be interesting.