Monday, August 31, 2009
HOLDING LEGISLATORS HOSTAGE
Everyone in Harrisburg knows at least one Democratic House staff person who has either been interviewed by Tom Corbett's investigators or forced by subpoena to testify before the Grand Jury.
There have been well over 100 -- at least 135. (Associated Press, 7/31/08)
Yet, there is no indication that any former or current Democratic state legislators have been interviewed or have made a Grand Jury appearance based on their political activities, specifically activities that are well-documented in the pre-trial motions filed by Mike Veon this summer.
How can this be?
Bill DeWeese turned over to Corbett tens of thousands of emails implicating Democratic legislators and arranged for the compliant testimony from hundreds of Democratic staff. These staffers have provided sworn Grand Jury testimony that clearly shows several Democratic legislators were deeply involved in political activity using state staff and resources on state time.
A perfect illustration of the gaping disparity between treatment of staff and treatment of legislators can be seen in Exhibit F of Veon's July 2009 pre-trial motion which outlines Democratic Majority Leader Todd Eachus' political activity.
The number of staff who were involved and subsequently interviewed or subpoenaed by Corbett (nearly all of them) is striking. There are numerous emails and testimony that show Eachus had direct knowledge of staff activity. There are emails from Eachus himself directing staff on political tasks using state resources on state time.
What's amazing is that Eachus has never been interviewed or subpoeaned by Corbett:
"HDC spokesman Brett Marcy said Eachus was not among the legislators who testified before the grand jury, nor was he interviewed by any law enforcement officials regarding the Bonusgate case." -- Wilkes-Barre Times Leader 7/7/09
What kind of investigation allows Corbett to harangue and even indict staff members, yet the elected officials who supervised and directed them are not even inconvenienced much less subpoenaed or interviewed?
We've reproduced below Veon's July 2009 Exhibit F in its entirety with links to the attachments.
Before Steve Stetler resigned from the House of Representatives in the summer of 2006, Todd Eachus and his campaign actively used caucus employees using caucus time and equipment for his campaign. [See attachment 1]
For the 2004 Election, Michael Thomas, an employee in the LRO, was assigned to Eachus’ district office in the same manner as Steve Webb in Beaver County that year. It is important to note that several defendants are charged with crimes in connection to Steve Webb’s placement in Beaver County for the Ramaley campaign. [See attachment 2]
After Stetler’s departure, Eachus became a key member of the House Democratic Campaign Committee. He was a member of group who made final decisions regarding campaigns and resources to be used on campaigns, with a specific focus on directing the work done by caucus employees for incumbent members with difficult campaigns. [See attachment 3]
Eachus directed staff to do general research work but also specific tasks for specific campaigns. Eachus even drafted emails for Eric Buxton’s company to send on behalf of candidates. It is important to note, some of the defendants were charged with crimes for allegedly having the exact same contact with Buxton. [See attachment 4]
Eachus was aware of the campaign volunteer list maintained by Eric Webb that was allegedly used to award bonuses in 2006. [See attachment 5]
In 2006, Eachus supervised and organized the HDCC effort in conjunction with the Rendell administration coordinating the appearance of Cabinet secretaries in targeted incumbent districts for campaign purposes. [See attachment 6]
Rachel Manzo was directly supervised by Eachus for the HDCC’s cabinet secretary project. She coordinated directly with House Caucus staff, the HDCC staff and incumbent members’ campaign managers. It is important to note that Manzo was charged in connection with this project but not Eachus, who directly supervised her work. [See attachment 7]
The HDCC cabinet secretary project under Eachus’ direction used House caucus resources for mailings, automatic phone calls and emails. [See attachment 8]
Following the 2006 elections, Eachus became the chairman of the HDCC. [See attachment 9]
Following the 2006 elections in addition to Rachel Manzo, Eachus hired the two most politically active members of Stetler’s caucus staff, John Jones and Erin Madison, and Michele Borlinghaus, a politically active caucus staff person. All three have appeared before the Grand Jury. [See attachment 10]
Jones, Madison and Borlinghaus used state time and resources for political campaign purposes. [See attachment 11, attachment 12, and attachment 13]
Jones and Madison actively coordinated with Eric Buxton to produce emails. It is important to note that some of the defendants were charged by the Attorney General for the same type of activity. [See attachment 14 and attachment 15]
Eachus isn't the only House Democratic Campaign Committee poo-bah who was never contacted by Corbett. Former Representative and current Secretary of Revenue Steve Stetler was never required to answer a subpoena and Representatives Dan Frankel, Jennifer Mann and Joe Preston haven't even been interviewed by Corbett's investigators.
We are flabbergasted at this ass-backwards investigation where staff are dragged before investigators (the reports of yelling, screaming and thrown objects are numerous) and the grand jury while their bosses are left alone.
We don't fault Democratic elected officials for not speaking out against Corbett's lopsided investigation and to come to the defense of their staff. They are scared, as Corbett intends for them to be.
We think Corbett's GOP gubernatorial rival, Congressman Jim Gerlach, put it best to Mark Scolforo of the Associated Press last week:
"[Gerlach] was concerned that the probe may be discouraging lawmakers and other politically active people from speaking out about the gubernatorial campaign, still in its infancy. 'I think it has caused a number of folks just to sort of hunker down and keep their head down and not get active and vocal on statewide political issues.'"
We agree completely. By collaring Democratic staff while leaving their Democratic bosses dangling in an investigative limbo, Corbett is getting the silence he needs for his politically motivated investigation.
It's too bad this silence doesn't prevent hypocritical, self-serving statements like:
"On a personal level, I'm just kind of disgusted that the actions of a few have cost taxpayers so much,' said House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne." ("Bonus probe has already cost Pa. Legislature $5.8M", Associated Press, 2/19/09)