Tuesday, August 25, 2009
THE CASE AGAINST BILL DEWEESE
As they have on-and-off for more than a year, the rumors are flying that partisan Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett finally will announce a second round of "Bonusgate" indictments by the end of next week.
Interestingly, these rumors suggest Corbett is likely to indict more Democrats in this impending round, most likely former Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese.
While no one even casually acquainted with the workings of the Capitol believes for a second DeWeese's protestations of innocence, we thought we'd see what solid evidence Corbett and his investigators have accumulated that could justify additional Democratic arrests. So we headed down to the Dauphin County Courthouse and blew most of the CasablancaPA beer budget on copies of public filings and transcripts.
A few things have come into clearer focus now that we've had an opportunity to review hundreds of pages of court filings.
First, it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that DeWeese was aware of the bonus program.
Mike Manzo testified during the preliminary hearing in October 2008 that DeWeese was aware of and approved the program. See his testimony here.
If there is any doubt regarding his choice of the phrase "I believe he did," then it is made crystal clear by Manzo's attorney immediately following the hearing:
"Manzo's attorney, Jim Eisenhower, said DeWeese 'had full knowledge of the bonuses...He (DeWeese) directed that certain bonuses be given.'" (Associated Press 10/8/8)
Manzo isn't the only House staffer to provide sworn testimony that DeWeese had direct knowledge and approved the awarding of bonuses. DeWeese's assistant Kat Manucci testified to the grand jury in May of 2008 that she witnessed DeWeese approving the bonus program. Veon included it as Exhibit E 16 in his July 2009 filing. You can see it here.
Second, DeWeese's legislative staff apparently worked on his campaigns using state resources for many years pre-dating Manzo's tenure as chief-of-staff.
Veon included in his July 2009 filing several documents turned over by the OAG that show DeWeese's former chief of staff, Doug Rohanna, worked on DeWeese's campaigns and other Democrats' campaigns, on state time using state resources, as far back as 1998. These documents are found in Exhibit E 24. You can read it here.
Now, for Exhibit J of Veon's June 2009 filing.
You can read the summary Veon filed with Exhibit J here.
Here is our summary with links to the corresponding attachments from Exhibit J:
Bill DeWeese was aware of and approved the awarding of bonuses beyond Holiday or year-end bonuses, as shown by emails he sent to House caucus staff. [See attachment 1]
Corbett accuses defendants Veon and Cott of directing political campaign email and website work done by taxpayer-fundedd contractor Eric Buxton and his company. Yet there is not a single email in evidence between Veon or Cott and Buxton and his company. However, Corbett turned over to Veon 123 individual emails directly between Buxton and DeWeese aide Kevin Sidella, in which they discuss developing and implementing political campaign email and website strategies. [See attachment 2]
Corbett also turned over 93 individual emails directly between Buxton and DeWeese aide Tom Andrews, in which they discuss developing and implementing political campaign email and website strategies. [See attachment 3]
Finally, Corbett turned over individual emails directly between Buxton and DeWeese himself> in which they discuss developing and implementing political campaign email and website strategies. [See attachment 4]
DeWeese made personnel decisions based on political campaign work. [See attachment 5]
DeWeese supervised, directed and collaborated with House staff on his personal political re-election campaigns. [See attachment 6]
DeWeese was an active participant in supervising House staff working on state House campaigns through the HDCC. [See attachment 7]
DeWeese's state House staff did political campaign fundraising for DeWeese's re-election campaigns. [See attachment 8]
DeWeese's state House staff actively worked on DeWeese's re-election campaigns using state resources on state time. [See attachment 9]
Also included in Veon's July 2009 filing are exhibits that show additional DeWeese staff working on political campaigns on state time using state resources:
Exhibit E 6 -- Tom Andrews
Exhibit E 7 -- Angela Bertugli
Exhibit E 27 -- Christopher Stets
Keep in mind that most of the documents Corbett received were hand-picked by DeWeese and his army of taxpayer-funded defense attorneys, yet a significant amount of incriminating evidence slipped through. Corbett received the Andrews and Sidella e-mails directly from Buxton, bypassing Team DeWeese.
With so much incriminating evidence, it's hard for many in the Capitol to believe DeWeese has escaped prosecution, which is why the rumors of his impending arrest persist. Some of us here at CasablancaPA think DeWeese has an immunity deal with Corbett. Charlie Thompson of the Patriot News reported a second secret immunity deal in October of 2007; the arrest of DeWeese on charges based on the above evidence will undeniably prove there is no deal between Corbett and DeWeese.