Thursday, June 11, 2009
WHAT'S PUZZLING YOU IS THE NATURE OF MY GAME
Regular readers are well aware that Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett secretly granted a favored informant immunity under a sealed order in October 2007. It appears to be the second of only two immunity orders granted under seal.
Team CasablancaPa has long suspected that favored informant goes by the initials H.W.D. We have grown more convinced with the public release of thousands of pieces of evidence, which Corbett reviewed and turned over to defendants as part of the discovery process.
Our theory is controversial; after all, Corbett certainly had no reason to trust Bill DeWeese. But wouldn't he have every reason to trust a Republican former state Inspector General and campaign contributor? Bill Chadwick was paid at least $1.3 million in taxpayer loot to keep DeWeese out of jail, and certainly the ability to broker such deals was among his bag of costly tricks.
The problem with the "speeding car" analogy some invoke to defend Corbett's failure to charge DeWeese is that Corbett didn't just let the DeWeesemobile go zipping by. He stopped it, searched it, looked under the hood and kicked the tires. ("DeWeese is the most-investigated guy on the landscape," Chadwick says)
What we have here is: an obviously culpable person who inexplicably faces no charges, a sealed immunity order that - like Cinderella's slipper - fits no other foot but DeWeese's, and a secret, taxpayer-produced file DeWeese refuses to reveal to the rest of the Democratic Caucus. Occam's Razor applies.
Did DeWeese know the caucus apparently was awarding bonuses for political work? Check.
(Did he lie about it? All. The. Time.)
Did DeWeese's top aide testify that DeWeese was complicit in awarding bonuses for political work? Check.
Did DeWeese base personnel decisions on political work? Check.
Did DeWeese employ staff members solely to perform political work? Check.
Did DeWeese and his staff use state-funded resources for political work? Check.
As if all this weren't enough to throw suspicion on Corbett's failure to charge DeWeese, there's the matter of DeWeese aides Kevin Sidella and Tom Andrews.
Political operative Sidella left public employ in October 2007, just before DeWeese gave his chosen scapegoats the ax, and coinciding with the secret immunity order. Every month since his departure, Sidella has collected a payment from DeWeese's campaign committee, equal to the salary he had received as a state employee.
Evidence recently made public reveals Sidella and Andrews supervised and orchestrated the very activities at the center of Corbett's prosecution. Corbett examined nearly 200 e-mails demonstrating their direction of the "LCOMM" and petition challenge efforts for which others face multiple felony charges. These e-mails not only implicate Andrews and Sidella, they actually conflict with Corbett's allegations against the defendants. The only reason those e-mails came to light is because they were among the small percentage of evidence that didn't pass through DeWeese's hands on the way to Corbett.
A curious side note about "LCOMM": Corbett included a weird non sequitur in the grand jury presentment that DeWeese "always communicated with Buxton through his campaign account." Of course it doesn't matter whether DeWeese used a state e-mail account, a campaign account or a big box of crayons to assign political tasks to a taxpayer-funded contractor. So why even mention it? "Sure, he broke into your house, but he wiped his feet on the mat first!"
Sidella was granted immunity and has been "cooperating" with prosecutors though none of his statements yet have been presented as evidence against the defendants. Whether Andrews scored a similar deal is unknown - according to investigators' notes, he apparently was neither interviewed nor subpoenaed. Though he serves as DeWeese's press secretary, he largely has escaped press scrutiny regarding Bonusgate.
What is known is that it would raise inconvenient questions for Corbett to prosecute either Andrews or Sidella without prosecuting DeWeese.
Still not suspicious? Let's look at the timeline:
In August of 2007, Corbett seized files from the House Democratic Research Office.
DeWeese fought to prevent admission of the "privileged documents."
In September of 2007, Corbett subpoenaed seven staff members to testify to the grand jury.
DeWeese fought to quash the subpoenas.
During September and October, the Supreme Court refused to block the subpoenas, and a judge ruled the seized files admissible.
In October, Corbett granted secret immunity to his mystery informant. Kevin Sidella quietly left the state payroll and began collecting the equivalent of his state salary from DeWeese's campaign fund.
In November, DeWeese fired seven staffers, most of whom were later indicted, and delivered to Corbett thousands of carefully-selected e-mails and documents that would become a basis for those indictments.
DeWeese immediately launched a revisionist history campaign, declaring that he'd been cooperating with Corbett "since Day One." (Try to exclude evidence and quash subpoenas? Who, me?) He confidently predicted he would not be indicted. (Wonder how he could be so sure?)
Keep in mind, this is just the case an average blogger can make with information already public and documented. Imagine the case a prosecutor could make with the powers of search warrants and subpoenas. If he wanted to. Of course, none of this is proof of an immunity deal. There's always the possibility that Corbett is just astonishingly inept.
Another side note: As we reviewed more than two years of media coverage, it dawned on us that prior to Veon's motion for dismissal, editorialists across the state were nearly unanimous in calling for DeWeese's head. ("Is Time Running Out For DeWeese?"... "The wrong folks lost their jobs in Harrisburg this week" ... "More questions raised on DeWeese's role" ... "Burden of suspicion." )
No one could believe DeWeese would escape prosecution. ("It's hard to see how Mr. DeWeese survives "Bonusgate." ... "DeWeese's latest controversy just stirs up more questions." ... "There could be a whopper of a furball in his future.")
Now that it's clear Corbett has given DeWeese a pass, columnists and editorial writers are lining up to defend his decision. The Post-Gazette is so confused that it hyperventilated over events Veon had nothing to do with while simultaneously bashing Veon for pointing to events he had nothing to do with. "We have always been at war with Eastasia!"