Philadelphia Inquirer, March 30, 2009
A Captain Renault post: There is growing criticism of the partisanship and quality of AG Corbett's Bonusgate investigation. The Philadelphia Inquirer published a story on March 30 that included comments from a wide spectrum of people who are questioning Corbett's ability and motives as he now begins his third year of investigating Bonusgate. Corbett has insisted from the start of the investigation that he is investigating all 4 caucuses in the legislature but after two years he has only indicted 12 Democrats and not a single Republican. It's just in the last few months of the two year effort that there have been published reports that Corbett and his staff are scrutinizing Republicans in the State House. There have been no reports of any Corbett investigation of the Senate Republicans despite the fact that the Senate Republicans issued some of the largest bonuses in 2006 to staff who were known to be very politically active.
The March 30 Inquirer article even quoted gadfly Harrisburg political activist Gene Stilp firing a warning shot at Corbett and his one sided investigation.
"If he only indicts more Democrats and no Republicans, there will be a large outcry," said Harrisburg activist Gene Stilp, who was the first to call for an investigation into the bonuses. "And his running for governor puts him under another kind of pressure: He can't be seen as doing this for political gain."
We have some bad news for Gene Stilp. It's too late. Corbett is already seen by many as using the Bonusgate investigation for his own political gain. The Philadelphia Inquirer published a very critical editorial recently which we posted here that called Corbett's investigation "painfully slow" and "plodding". But the most damning part of the editorial was this:
"Republican Corbett says more charges are coming. He obviously hopes to use the drawn-out probe as a springboard into the governor's office in 2010."
More newspapers are beginning to question Corbett's motives and motivation. The Lebanon Daily News published an editorial on March 25 that raised serious questions about Corbett's political motives as the long investigation continues and now coincides with Corbett's campaign for Governor. From the LDN:
"Unfortunately, even this investigation has raised questions about, if not corruption then certainly politicking.
Attorney General Tom Corbett, a Republican whose office is charged with these investigations, has been questioned about the timing of the original indictments — that they involved Democrats and that they occurred before a legislative election.
And there are also questions about the continuing saga that is the investigation of the other caucuses. Corbett is near certain to be a candidate for the soon-to-be-open governor’s seat, and if Pennsylvania holds serve as it has in the recent past, it’s the Republicans’ turn to get the highest office in the commonwealth.
So, will these remaining investigations be used to help burnish Corbett’s image as a law-and-order guy, which served former Gov. Richard Thornburgh well when he took office amid the fallout of previous corruption scandals.
Or is it all just a function of the need to proceed slowly with criminal/political investigations?
Perception serves as reality, and it will be difficult to convince some that there’s nothing more at work here than the slow wheels of justice.
Many will see it as Pennsylvania politics as usual. Shouldn’t we all be a little tired of that by now?"The chorus gets louder...more to come...