Thursday, March 26, 2009
CORBETT: WHO'S NEXT?
AN UGARTE POST:
In the wake of yesterday’s news regarding partisan Republican Attorney General and candidate for Governor Attorney General Tom Corbett’s announcement of charges against Mike Veon, I’m not going to dwell on the obvious question of when will he ever follow through with his promises to bring charges against Republicans related to bonusgate and campaigning on state time using state resources.
Instead, I thought I’d point out a very interesting part of yesterday’s gubernatorial campaign inspired dog and pony show.Partisan Republican Corbett made it a point to say that he was examining all four legislative caucuses and their members’ involvement with non-profit groups.
Here he is yesterday in an Associated Press item:
’That indicates to me that the Legislature and everyone needs to take a look at how moneys ... are being spent and how it's being directed,’ Corbett said at a Pittsburgh news conference where he announced the charges against Veon. Corbett's continuing investigation into the Beaver Initiative for Growth , Veon's nonprofit, nicknamed BIG , includes a look at how taxpayers' money moves through the state budget and into the bank accounts of nonprofit groups. The inquiry also will scrutinize grant money given to nonprofit groups headed up by other legislators, although Corbett, a Republican, did not identify any.”
In fact, if you saw the news conference live you would have heard Corbett pointedly ask for anyone who has any information about malfeasance by legislators in relation to non-profit entities to come forward with information so he could investigate.
So, here are five formerly publicized situations for Republican gubernatorial candidate Corbett to have his investigators check out.
#5 -- State Representative Nick Micozzie and Clifton Heights Economic Corporation.
Micozzie didn’t like how Clifton Heights borough council is planning to use the nearly $1 million dollars he directed its way, so he creates his own non-profit that the money is shifted into. According to the Delaware County Times, serious shenanigans transpired with the official record of the Clifton Heights council meeting minutes, “Some council members now allege minutes were interpreted wrong, altered or even deleted.” (“Questions surround grant in Clifton Heights” Delco Times, 7/26/08) In fact, this situation is so egregiously in violation of the State House of Representatives new Rule 14 that complaints were brought to its ethics committee. See them here and here.
#4 -- Former State Representative Gene McGill and Historic Property Preservation Institute.
McGill got his rent paid for by a non-profit he created and funded with state grants. The Intelligencer put it best in one of its editorials, “McGill has had a cheap place to stay. The problem is that, as a state legislator, McGill has had certain advantages the average person doesn't when trying to strike the same kind of deal.” (“Sweat equity or sweet deal?” Doylestown Intelligencer, 6/28/06)
#3 -- State Representative John Perzel and Mayfair Community Development Corporation.
The amount of money Perzel shoveled into this group -- nearly $9 million by April of 2006 -- rivals the amounts Veon obtained for BIG. If Corbett would spend even a fraction of the amount of time he expended investigating Veon, he’d find lots of interesting and illegal stuff. (“Six lawmakers funnel $29 million to pet non-profits” Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 4/24/06)
#2 -- State Representative John Perzel and 8001 Torresdale Corporation.
John Perzel’s family personally profited to the tune of $100,000 through a sweetheart land deal between a non-profit controlled by his family and the New Foundations Charter School controlled by his wife. Even more money may be involved when you factor in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent the charter was paying to the non-profit. (“Charter school agrees to rules about ethics” Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/19/04) Perzel was so incensed over the auditing of his wife’s pet project and family ATM that he used his influence to shut down any similar audits in the future. (“Charter oversight hobbled in 2005” Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/2/08)
#1 -- Former United States Senator Rick Santorum and Operation Good Neighbor.
While Santorum wasn’t a state legislator, he was the head of a non-profit incorporated in Pennsylvania that closely mirrored what Corbett alleges Veon to have done with BIG. There was a shockingly low ratio of giving to overhead. (“Sen. Santorum’s home mortgage foundation outlays raise questions” Philadelphia Daily News, 2/21/06) There was a completely unacceptable blending of the non-profit operations with his legislative and political operations. (“Santorum’s Operation Good Neighbor is low on giving, high on fees” Associated Press, 2/25/06) And, there was plenty of evidence of government contracts being awarded to friends of the non-profit and Santorum’s political causes and personal campaign. (“Big donor to Rick’s charity was seeking federal aid” Philadelphia Daily News, 3/2/06; “Group tied to Santorum campaign gets $250,000 grant” Philadelphia Daily News, 3/24/06)
Those are just five well-documented instances of public officials abusing their ability to direct funds to and from non-profits for their personal and political benefit.
Don’t get your hopes up that partisan Republican Tom Corbett will investigate any of these anytime soon, if ever.
There are already signs that Corbett is still interested in using the grand jurys to investigate only Democrats.
It isn’t a coincidence that the Pittsburgh grand jury is investigating Democratic state Representative Tony DeLuca and his involvement with Penn Hills municipal politics. (“Penn Hills lawmaker scrutinized by grand jury” Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 3/24/09)
Don’t think your former collegue and former Penn Hills city manager, Terry Van Horne, who testified against Veon under a grant of immunity didn’t have something to do with the grand jury having a sudden interest in DeLuca’s activities. There may be a lot more behind Van Horne being recently fired by DeLuca’s son, the mayor of Penn Hills. (“Penn Hills outs manager, replaces him” Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 2/3/09)
Who else among you could be within Corbett’s sights? Nearly 200 Democratic caucus staff were interviewed and/or forced to testify in front of the grand jury.
Did any of them implicate you in any way?
Will this latest news item from Pittsburgh TV News 4 that features your colleagues Ted Harhai, Nick Kotik and Tim Mahoney lead to future problems for any of the three of them?
What is in that file Bill DeWeese and Todd Eachus are fighting over? What does DeWeese have on you?
More importantly, what does partisan Republican prosecutor Corbett have on you that has been provided to him by DeWeese?
What is going on between DeWeese and Corbett? What type of arrangement is there where DeWeese who is so clearly culpable in the bonusgate affair is not indicted?
You need to fight back! You need to stop Corbett from continuing this charade of an investigation.