Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The rumblings from Harrisburg's chattering-class are that partisan Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett's much-anticipated and allegedly "shocking" second round of bonusgate arrests are to happen within the next ten days.
The scuttlebutt predicts that among the long-promised Republican indictments will be additional Democrats.
The culpability of former Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese is well-documented. But the case of former Representative and current Secretary of Revenue Stephen Stetler is just as compelling.
Stetler was an officer of the House Democratic Campaign Committee from 1999 to 2006, and was the Chair of the HDCC from 2003 to 2006. The thousands of emails provided by and the hours of Grand Jury testimony arranged by Bill DeWeese and his taxpayer-funed legal defense team of Bill Chadwick and Bill Sloane show that Stetler was at the center of all things political in the House Democratic Caucus.
Much of this DeWeese-inspired material incriminating Stetler shows up in Exhibit K of Veon's June 2009 filing.
We've reproduced the entire exhibit below. Click on the links to view the attachments. See for yourself if Stetler is culpable and try to imagine under what circumstances Corbett's team wouldn't even follow through on its subpoena...and why Stetler hasn't been indicted.
Stephen Stetler was the House Democratic Campaign Committee (HDCC) Finance Chair from 1999 to 2002. Stetler took over the HDCC as Operations Chair in 2003 and held the position until he resigned his house seat to join the Economy League in July of 2006. [See attachment 1]
The House Democratic Caucus staff and HDCC staff under Stetler's direction between the years 2002 and 2006 were Dan Wiedemer, then HDCC Executive Director, who now works for State Rep. Mike Gerber; Jessica Walls, then HDCC Political Director; Erin Madison, then HDCC Fundraiser and later House Democratic Research Analyst; John Jones, House Democratic Caucus Research Specialist and Cameron Texter, House Democratic Caucus Research Specialist.
The above staff were directly supervised on daily basis by Stephen Stetler. They all were subpoenaed by Attorney General Tom Corbett in 2007 and 2008. Subsequently, they gave proffer interviews or appeared in front of the Grand Jury. [See attachment 2]
Stetler himself was subpoenaed to appear before the Grand Jury by Attorney General Tom Corbett on 6/12/2008.
Stetler was an active participant in developing HDCC strategy. The attachments show just a few of the emails he received containing polling results and analysis. [See attachment 3]
Stetler was active in assigning and supervising House Caucus staff to work on incumbent Democratic members' political campaigns. According to the grand jury presentment from July of 2008:
"[Paul] Martz testified that, while the official paperword said he was working in Tangretti's district office, in fact, he did not even have a work station in that office. He testified that he worked exclusively from Tangretti's campaign office while being paid by the taxpayers.
Discovery documents show that Stetler was actively involved with Martz's assignment to Westmoreland County and his role there. [See attachment 4]
Stetler was an active participant in assigning and overseeing House Democratic Caucus staff in political campaign petition reviews. [See attachment 5]
Stetler supervised political campaign fundraising conducted by his House Caucus staff using caucus resources. The properties for the Excel spreadsheet attched to this discovery document indicate the campaign fundraising work was done on a state computer by Erin Madison. [See attachment 6]
Stetler encouraged and authorized House Caucus personnel decisions based on levels of campaign contributions from House Caucus members. [See attachment 7]
Stetler and his staff used state resources and employee time to work on his personal political campaigns. [See attachment 8]
Stetler supervised and directed the Opposition Research operation conducted by the House Democratic Caucus and the HDCC. [See attachment 9]
Stetler personally disseminated to Democratic candidates Opposition Research conducted by House Caucus staff. [See attachment 10]
In spite of his review of the above investigative material, Attorney General Tom Corbett did not follow through on his subpoena of Stetler. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on 5/3/09:
"A report by Special Agent Robert Drawbaugh -- "Legislative Bonus Investigation" -- said another special agent met with a York attorney on June 12. The attorney "accepted service of a grand jury subpoena for Stephen Stetler," the report said. Stetler couldn't be reached for comment. Chuck Ardo, Rendell's press secretary, said Stetler's attorney was told agents would get back to him if they needed Stetler and they never did." [See attachment 11]
Highlighting Stetler's involvement with political activity in the Capitol using House Caucus staff and resources and underlining how glaring Corbett's failure to follow through with his subpoena, is Exhibit E 31 from Veon's July 2009 filing..
Under oath, former HDCC Executive Director Dan Wiedemer testified to the grand jury that Stetler was part of the "core" decision-making body for all things political. He goes on to testify that when presented with options of gathering opposition research without using state funded resources, Stetler made the decision to continue using House Caucus staff and resources.
Corbett has the evidence and testimony (all provided by DeWeese) to bring charges against Stetler. Why would Stetler escape all scrutiny from Corbett?
Perhaps Stetler is on the list for the "shocking" indictments Corbett has promised? How will he explain Stetler's failure to respond to the subpoena, and why he waited to charge Stetler until after the Tribune Review questioned his actions?