Wednesday, April 8, 2009


A Captain Renault post: Former US Attorney for Eastern PA and Republican David Marston published a very strong and critical OP-ED piece in today's Philadelphia Inquirer on Tom Corbett and his dangerous mix of politics and the power of a prosecutor. Marston calls on Corbett to make a choice: " He should be either a corruption-fighting prosecutor or a candidate for governor. But he should not be both at the same time."

The club of former prosecutors is generally known to be very reluctant to speak out against or criticize active prosecutors or to comment on the way these prosecutors conduct themselves in public office. So former US Attorney Marston's strong criticism of Corbett is all the more remarkable because it just doesn't happen very often. It happens even less often when the former and the active prosecutor are both from the same political party.

Marston uses some strong words when describing what's wrong with Corbett's decision to run for Governor and his Bonusgate investigation.

From the Marston OP-ED piece:

"What's the problem with a prosecutor wearing a politician's hat? Corbett argues that previous attorneys general in both parties have run for governor without resigning their posts. But none of those attorneys general had embarked on a years-long criminal investigation of an entire branch of state government. And Corbett's Bonusgate probe is arguably only about 25 percent complete.

But Corbett doesn't seem to get it. He isn't probing routine consumer fraud or environmental misconduct; the subject of Bonusgate is political to its core."

To date much of the criticism of Corbett's political and partisan motivation in the Bonusgate probe has come from blog sites like this one and Checking the Balance and an occasional editorial in a newspaper.

Marston, as a former prosecutor, as a Republican with political experience (he ran for Governor and Mayor of Philadelphia in the late 70s), and as someone who has written and spoken on legal ethics, will not be so easy to dismiss by Corbett an his partisans. But we know Corbett won't take Marston's advice and will continue to use the Bonusgate investigation for his partisan and personal political gain. Corbett's investigation has already been compromised in many ways and he will ignore the advice and warnings Marston provides in this section of his opinion column:

"Especially in this atmosphere, citizens will wonder about Corbett's exercise of his prosecutorial discretion in deciding which legislators to charge. Is he advancing the public interest in honest government, or his personal interest in becoming governor? Even the existence of such questions can undermine public confidence in the office of the attorney general and other law-enforcement agencies.

Finally, one knee-jerk defense against charges of public corruption is that they are politically motivated. That was a central theme of Fumo's ultimately unsuccessful defense, and it is a charge that has dogged Corbett since the early days of Bonusgate.

In this context, it is not helpful that everyone Republican Corbett has charged to date is a Democrat. But even if Republican indictments in Bonusgate are imminent, as they are rumored to be, they, too, could be dismissed as political in light of Corbett's campaign. Worse, the trials of cases brought in Bonusgate could very well take place during the heat of the gubernatorial race, presenting defense attorneys with a potent argument that it really is all about politics."


Anonymous said...

It is my opinion now, that Attorney General Tom Corbett has less than 2 months to finish all investigations.

If the Attorney General Office fails to finish these investigations of over 3 years ago, then he must withdraw as a candidate.

If the corruption is as bad as Tom Corbett's says at Press Conferences, then it should be an easy prosecution?

The common citizens of the commonwealth will wonder why it took so long, and I am wondering too. Pat Meehan should be brought in if Corbett is too slow to do the job.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Corbett shudders at the thought of deadlines imposed by anonymous posters, and the threat of replacement by someone who took 4 years to investigate just one person.

Anonymous said...

It is not a matter of fear from an anonymous poster as much as the public will see it as a matter of being fair.

Tom Corbett is a good person and public figure, but the investigations are taking way to much time, and he is now open to attacks because he was able to move swiftly on Democrats before an election, but slowly on Republicans still after the elections.

What goes around comes around, Pat Meehan will show he is more qualified based upon what we see and do not see! One reason why the AG Office has to move more quickly and be more fair and make sure all Grand Jury Findings are out not trickled out for election impacts..

The Philadelphia Inquirer is just the first shot across the Corbett for Governor Bow as the Primary Election approaches you has seen nothing yet. In the meantime, lives can be changed for the worse and commonwealth not for the better.

The electorate is always more fair than many estimate and why tehse investigations need to be resolved sooner not late.

Anonymous said...

I hope there is an opportunity to look into whether the Dilworth Paxson Law Firm, better known as Fumo's Employer will be able to withstand the loss of Vince Fumo as a substantial member of the firm.

It would be great to look into whether the law firm can expect any significant fallout from having associated so closely with a convicted felon.

I wonder how many of Chris Casey' friends & supporters hope that his professional affiliation with convicted felon Vince won't be a factor considered in whether he is selected as US Attorney.

The Dilworth Paxson Law Firm has now been hired by the PA House majority leader Todd Eachus now that they no longer employ Vince Fumo.

Guilt by association ought to have no place in our democracy, but it should be investigated.

Anonymous said...

Great now we are seeing attacks on Chris Casey and Todd Eachus that are trying to put reforms in the House. Once again, no matter what Lawmakers or their Counsels do, it is never good enough. There is always a conflict of interest’s allegation or look what happen years ago.

A wake up call has happen, reforms have been passed by DeWeese, Shapiro, McCall, and Eachus, and the Caucus is looking to do even better than in the past.

Another reason why a proper resolution should be worked out among all parties, leadership, AG Office, and the accused for the betterment of the commonwealth and citizens to correct the past, and renew a commitment of good government for the future.