Friday, July 3, 2009
HYSTERIA IN THE STATEHOUSE
For the first time in more than two years, the public may be about to hear a side of the Bonusgate story that Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett doesn't want to be heard.
Has this possibility been greeted in the Capitol with anticipation? Relief? A sense of satisfaction?
No, it's been more like one long primal scream of panic.
The Tribune-Review today reports that lawyers for the defendants on Thursday served between 40 and 100 House members and staff with subpoenas to testify at a hearing next week on the defendants' motions to dismiss the charges.
The motions are based on various deficiencies in the shoddy case Corbett has cobbled together. Anyone whose true goal is justice would welcome the opportunity to expose these flaws.
Diogenes needn't waste his time in Harrisburg. Caucus lawyers immediately reassured the desperate witnesses they will fight to quash the subpoenas. The same caucus that supposedly encouraged staff to go forth and tell the truth when Corbett was asking the questions now issues the order, "Clam up!" when telling the truth might look bad for Corbett.
Part of the reason for the hysteria can be found in a second Tribune-Review article today, which gives Corbett free rein to bang his "investigation is continuing" drum.
This unceasing din, while headache-inducing for most of us forced to endure it, brings Corbett great joy on several fronts. Most importantly, it keeps everyone in the Capitol perpetually cowed. How can any member or staff person have the courage to step up to the witness stand and tell the truth about Corbett's disaster of a case when Corbett's foot is on his or her neck? "You could be next," is the not-so-subtle-message.
Where does this leave our hapless defendants? The defendants' right to a defense includes the right to carefully examine the case Corbett has constructed. Instead, Corbett throws out his arms to block it from view and shrieks, like a middle-schooler working on a science project, It isn't finished yet!!
If it isn't finished (and by this time the rest of his class has graduated and moved on) then why did he file charges? If he's not ready, after all this time, to stand up in court and allow the public to examine his case, then this case doesn't belong in court.
Of course, it may be that Corbett really never wants this case to end up in court, at least not while he's still got to make it work. He needs this jalopy to carry him only as far as the Governor's Office. Then he can abandon it on the side of the road and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.
P.S. Could it be Corbett already is hearing the tell-tale sounds of sputtering under the hood? He told the Tribune-Review, "The people who are in charge of this investigation are career prosecutors, career agents. The decisions that will be made — and I won't be making those decisions — are made in the best interests of the prosecution ..." That may not be finger-pointing quite yet, but he's definitely taking off his gloves.