Friday, October 30, 2009


Last week's leak regarding "invitations to testify" issued to Republican House members and staff certainly had its intended effect.

It effectively doused the flicker of indignation ignited by activists' "1,000 Days of Bonusgate" demonstration, gently fanned by WHTM's investigative report about how much time state employees spend on the phone with Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett's campaign staff.

We understand: no one wants to be standing on the Capitol steps denouncing a lack of Republican indictments at the very moment Republicans are indicted.

Tom Corbett gets it, too. He's been getting away with it for more than two years.

What we find fascinating is the very idea that that Republican indictments will somehow absolve Corbett of politicizing his office. If anything, he is further condemned.

Politically, Corbett has to indict Republicans. That fact alone - and it is a fact - should disqualify him from exercising the power of his office.

From a political perspective, indicting Democrats was merely a good idea. Indicting Republicans is a necessity.

When he announces those indictments, Corbett says we'll understand why his investigation of Republicans took so long. We already understand why. It's a tricky calculation, determining how many victims he has to choose to maintain political viability, how far up the hierarchy he has to reach, which of his supporters he can afford to alienate, how long can he hold out on his announcement to achieve maximum publicity ... it's all very complicated.

We've no doubt that Republicans have engaged in political activity using state resouces. But that's almost beside the point. Just as the Democratic indictments were, the conscience-shocking Republican indictments of Biblical proportion will be based on making maxium splash while doing as little damage to the actual power structure as possible.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


It seems pretty clear that charges against Rachel Manzo will be withdrawn, as has been speculated for months, in exchange for Mike Manzo's plea agreement.

If that's true, we can assume that Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett isn't interested in Rachel Manzo's testimony.

And if Corbett had any plans to indict House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, who was Rachel Manzo's boss for two years before she was arrested, and who directly supervised the activities for which she is charged, he'd be pretty interested in Rachel Manzo's testimony.

(Then again, considering Corbett's general level of competence throughout the Bonusgate investigation, he may plan to prosecute Todd Eachus using the testimony of Balloon Boy Falcon Heene.)

Corbett has repeatedly claimed he's ordered his investigators to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Evidence that Eachus ordered caucus staff and a taxpayer-funded contractor to perform political work? Evidence that Eachus knew about the campaign volunteer list maintained by Eric Webb that was allegedly used to award bonuses in 2006? Evidence that Eachus coordinated appearances by Cabinet secretaries in targeted incumbent districts for campaign purposes, an effort that made extensive use of caucus resources?

Perhaps Corbett doesn't feel these activities rise to the level of crime. Yet he charged others - including Rachel Manzo - for their involvement in these very same activities.

Speculation remains high in the Capitol that indictments still are on the horizon for Eachus, former House Majority Leader H. William DeWeese, and Revenue Secretary Steve Stetler, former chair of the House Democratic Campaign Committee. Anything's possible.

But the absence of a plea agreement for Rachel Manzo is a strong sign that Eachus is in the clear. And this week's leak about invitations to testify to the grand jury did not include Eachus, DeWeese or Stetler. Considering the heat Corbett already has taken for his failure to indict DeWeese in particular, we find it hard to believe he wouldn't try to diffuse the criticism if he could by including DeWeese's name.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


One thing we can say about Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett: at least he's consistent.

Throughout the nearly three years of the Bonusgate investigation, leaks to the media regarding any investigation of Republicans have always followed closely on the heels of accusations or questions about Corbett's partisanship.

Today is no exception. "Lawyers with knowledge of the investigation" told the Inquirer that former Republican House Speaker John Perzel, his former chief of staff Brian Preski and " as many as 10 other current and former House Republican aides" have received letters inviting them to testify to a grand jury.

Although the Inquirer story calls the letters "akin to 'target letters' that federal prosecutors often use to advise people that they are likely to face criminal charges," some Democrats who received similar letters last year were not charged, and some of those who now face charges never received them.

While the story marks the first time the names of any Republicans called to testify have been leaked, it's otherwise the same old schtick.

Activists yesterday held a party in the Capitol Rotunda to celebrate "1,000 days of Bonusgate," and called upon Corbett to resign. Questions about Corbett's ability to conduct an impartial investigation are growing louder. John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News asks, "should Corbett run investigations & run for guv, too?" ABC27 paired news of the "celebration" with the revelation that Corbett and his campaign manager have spent a lot of time on the phone with state workers on state phones during state time.

Corbett has followed this pattern for two years almost exactly to the date. The first revelation that any Republicans had been suboenaed was reported by the Associated Press on Oct. 23, 2007, the day after a Morning Call editorial called for a special prosecutor in the case and Capitolwire suggested Corbett's political ties might inhibit his investigation. The investigation by then was 10 months old.

In late January 2008, the Tribune-Review reported an accusation that Corbett's "conflicts of interest" could jeopardize the investigation. News was quickly leaked to the Patriot-News that Corbett had subpoenaed records from House Republicans.

The Patriot-News' Aug. 3, 2008 analysis, "Is state bonus probe partisan?" inspired a revelation that prosecutors had interviewed "20 to 30" House Republican staffers.

Concurrent with Corbett's announcement that a Bonusgate preliminary hearing would be held just weeks before Election Day, news about interviews with House Republican staff was leaked to the Patriot-News and the Tribune-Review trumpeted a false rumor that charges against Republicans could be filed that very week.

Corbett has promised two things about his next round of charges: that they would "shock the conscience" and that they would make clear why the investigation has taken so unbelievably long. Charges against Team Perzel in connection with "a $9 million taxpayer-funded database" have been expected for more than two years, so they'd hardly qualify on either count. Yet those are precisely the charges to which the Inquirer story alludes.

We believe Corbett originally expected to charge only Democrats in Bonusgate and be done with it. We believe he was caught off-guard by the near-universal expectation that Republicans also would be charged. Any further charges in this case can be chalked up to damage control.


ABC27 News yesterday revealed that Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett's campaign has exchanged hundreds of phone calls with his taxpayer-paid staff - and the taxpayer-paid staffs of Republican legislators and campaign contributors - on state time at their state offices.

Corbett would not say what the phone calls concerned. Corbett stammered, "It's easier to keep it on one that the taxpayers are not paying for. That's the most important thing," when asked about the use of his campaign phone to call Attorney General staff on their state phones during state time. "Taxpayers aren't paying for this. Either campaign or myself are paying for this." So he admits it wasn't legitimate state business. But as ABC27 pointed out, "what about the person taking the call on a state phone, in a state office, on state time?"

Reporter Dennis Owens used telephone bills from the campaign to reveal that hundreds of calls have been made to and from Corbett's campaign phone and those of other campaign staff and his state offices. The campaign confers with state AG staff on their state phones, several times a day, during business hours.

The story is especially ironic coming just weeks after Corbett made a point of boasting to the same news organization that he always carries two phones because he's so very careful to keep state business strictly separated from his campaign. (Minute 2:25 below)

But when confronted about the phone calls, he said the campaign phone is his "main phone." The reporter didn't ask, and Corbett didn't volunteer to explain what his campaign staff might be discussing during the hundreds of phone calls with his taxpayer-funded state staff.

We'd love to tell you how shocked we are, but we're not in the least surprised. Corbett's use of his office as a parking lot for campaign workers is already widely known. The Bonusgate investigation itself is a more outrageous use of state resources for political puposes than anything he might dream of uncovering in the legislature.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


What kind of Governor would Tom Corbett make, when he obviously has no clue how the legislature operates?

If there is a single exchange that encapsulates the depth and breadth of Corbett's gullibility, it is this excerpt from grand jury testimony:

Q Now, I want to show you an e-mail that the grand jury had not seen yet, and this is dated December 17th, of '04. It's from you to William DeWeese. Subject: Thank you. It's addressed to Representative Deweese, Representative Veon, and Mike. Mike being --
A Mike Manzo.
Q Right. And although in the subject line -- I don't want to touch this because I think that -- it's to DeWeese and Veon and carbon copy to Manzo, correct?
A Yes.
Q And then the line below the subject line says Representative DeWeese, Representative Veon and Mike. I can't thank you enough for the bonus for campaigning. I am speechless, as most of us are. Thank you. I hope you both have a nice holiday weekend. Again, thank you for the opportunity of being part of your staff. If you look above that, it appears that there's a response from William DeWeese to you, carbon copy no one, December 17th, '04, 2:17:45 p.m. Capital U, Capital R, welcome, correct?
A Yes.
Q And I'm assuming of the people who communicate not verbally and through
machines UR means the [same] as y-o-u, space, a-r-e, correct?
A Yes.
Q You remember this e-mail?
A Yes.
Q Did you send his e-mail?
A Yes.
Q Did you receive that response from what looks like

A Yes.

(Grand jury testimony of Karen Steiner, June 24, 2008)

By the time they questioned Steiner, investigators had seen the "smoking gun" emails that proved DeWeese knew about and approved of bonuses for campaigning. But Corbett apparently fell for DeWeese's incredible tale - not only that he didn't answer his own email, but that the person who did actually pretended to be DeWeese and was deliberately keeping the contents of DeWeese's own email a secret from him.

A reasonable person would've offered DeWeese the name of a competent psychotherapist at that point.

But Corbett bought it, possibly because it was sold to him by a Republican crony and campaign contributer, DeWeese's taxpayer-funded defense attorney Bill Chadwick. Imagine Corbett's shock when the Tribune-Review published the emails. The thinking world laughed uproriously at DeWeese's pathetic explanation and turned expectantly to Corbett. Oh noes! How could he admit he'd been duped?

Corbett's cluelessness regarding lege-world is further evident in his original Democrats-only investigation. Only after widespread accusations of partisanship did Corbett make any effort even to create the appearance of an investigation of Republicans. At that point, the horse was out of the barn. House Republicans already had replaced their computer servers and newspapers had been reporting the details of the investigation for months. The true embarrasment is not the partisanship that led to a one-sided investigation, but the ignorance that made him think he could get away with it. He's been playing catch-up to try to remedy that blunder ever since. He may be bound and determined now to charge a few Republicans just to change perceptions, but the prosecutions will suffer from his initial miscalculation.

Corbett is so ignorant of the ways of the legislature that he filed criminal charges against a former member for the routine use his contingency account. Even after the charges were filed, House comptroller Alexis Brown issued a memo clarifying that the practices Corbett considered felonious were still regarded by the House to be perfectly legal. Now what? Admit he was wrong, or file felony charges against every committee chair and member of leadership in the entire House? Our money's on withdrawing the charges when he thinks nobody's paying attention.

Corbett's profound ignorance of Capitol culture blinded him to the ramifications of Bonusgate's narrow focus. This isn't how he imagined he'd spend the opening weeks of his gubernatorial campaign. Here he is, figuring out how to manage the near-univiversal expectation of indictments against legislative leaders he'd had no intention of investigating in the first place. He has so little understanding of how the legislature operates and the culture of the Capitol that the response to his investigation caght him off-guard.

Whether he really believed politics in the Capitol was confined to a single legislator and a handful of staff, or he just believed he could sell that story to the voting public, he reveals a naïveté that would be embarassing in a first-year Capitol intern, much less a governor.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett's hubris increases weekly.

For over a year, he has been teasing Pennsylvania with promises of what he describes as "shocking" Republican indictments that will be announced allegedly very soon. We're not sure that he is going to live up to his own hyperbole. It is beginning to look like Corbett feels he can do and say whatever he wants without being held accountable.

To show just how much he has the GOP nomination sewed up, Corbett trotted out another establishment Republican to endorse him this week. That isn't surprising and neither is the hypocrisy found in the endorsement statement his campaign wrote for former Congressman Bob Walker:
"Certainly Tom's success in fighting corruption is well known. And his election to the Governor's office will go a long way towards restoring people's trust in our state government."
This is only true if you consider "fighting corruption" and "restoring people's trust" arresting only Democrats and ignoring mountains of evidence implicating Republicans. But Corbett's bonusgate investigation was never about justice, rather it has shaped up to be a transparently partisan witchhunt to manufacture headlines for his gubernatorial campaign.

The whole "fighting corruption" message Corbett pushes is hypocrisy everyone in Harrisburg has grown to expect from him.

But this part of Walker's endorsement is a new and especially hilarious wrinkle in Corbett's message:
"As the manager of one of the state's largest operations, with over 800 employees, Tom also has the necessary managerial skills that will be needed to cut out of control spending, lower taxes, and develop an economic plan to create much needed jobs."
This portion of Walker's endorsement is so very funny when you consider that the one person Corbett put over this massive organization as Chief of Staff is his tax-payer funded political hack, Brian Nutt.

If Corbett is such a fiscally responsible steward of taxpayer dollars, them why does he allow Nutt to spend the majority of his time on leave working on his political campaigns and lards up his office with blatantly political staff?

Walker's statement this week is tame compared to the nose-thumbing Corbett gave to the voters when he decided to attend a fundraiser in Philadelphia this week for Bob O'Donnell, Republican candidate for governor in Virginia.

John Micek with the Morning Call breaks the news on his blog here.

This Virginian is the guy everyone, including Majority Leader Todd Eachus, points to as the example Corbett should follow by stepping down from his post as Attorney General to avoid any appearance of partisanship in his investigations, especially bonusgate. (Tribune-Review 3/31/09)

Rather than avoid stirring up the debate on his ability to be politically impartial, Corbett ignores the irony and puts himself on the same stage as the guy who everyone recogizes as the model for how a politically active Attorney Generals should conduct themselves.

It is this attitude that leads us to believe that Corbett is going to underwhelm everyone when -- and if -- he ever announces any arrests of Republicans.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Quite a debate has erupted surrounding Western PA US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan's contemplation of running for Congress next year.

Although, it isn't centered on Buchanan. Instead it is a back and forth over whether or not partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Corbett's team is being hypocritical for agreeing that Buchanan should step down if she runs for office while asserting it is perfectly ok for Corbett to remain in office while running for governor.

We thought we'd bring some focus back onto Buchanan and point out some whitewashes conducted by the office under her direction.

Check out this news item from 2006 and try to guess who it is referring to:
"The newspaper independently interviewed the [xxxx] staff members. Among their allegations:

Mr. [xxxx] and his campaign staff have frequently used his [xxxx] office for campaign strategy sessions, and equipment like the office's fax, copier, camera and filing cabinets for campaign-related materials, instead of using his separate campaign office a few miles away.

Members of his taxpayer-paid staff have been expected to have campaign materials with them at all times when accompanying [xxxx], in case he wants to provide them to constituents.

In sending [xxxx] staff such as unpaid interns to perform door-knocking and drop off official literature throughout the district this summer, they were instructed to stop only at the homes of registered voters.

Multiple staff members from the district office were instructed last December to devote their time to labeling, stuffing and mailing greeting cards to individuals who were campaign contributors of [xxxx]. The postage and materials were paid by his campaign fund, but several staffers said they performed the functions in the middle of the government workday, rather than on heir own time." (Post-Gazette 10/28/06)
Any guesses? Mike Veon? This sounds exactly like what Corbett charged Veon and 11 other Democrats for allegedly doing. John Perzel? Everyone in the Capitol knows this kind of stuff was rampant in his Philadelphia offices.

This could be just about anyone in the Pennsylvania legislature. This kind of stuff has been going on for years in district offices...both Democrat and Republican.

You'd be wrong if you guessed any of the above.

This story was about Republican Congressman Tim Murphy in Allegheny County. A interview with Andy Sheehan with KDKA resulted in this piece de resistance:

That cring-worthy prevaricating by Murphy should join this performance by former Rep. Ken Ruffing in the politician interview disaster hall of fame.

Even though Buchanan asserts she investigates politicians of both parties equally...
"I investigate cases brought to my attention without regard to the political affiliation of the subject. Public corruption is nonpartisan, and we investigate it wherever we find it." (Post-Gazette
...she's a liar:
"But allegations of wrongdoing have also come up against some Republicans here over the years.

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum was heavily criticized for saying that his family lived in Penn Hills -- requiring the school district there to pay the cost for his children to attend a cyber school -- while they were really in Virginia.

An employee of U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, was fired after alleging that congressional staff and resources were being used for campaign work.

And local charges were filed against then-state Rep. Jeff Habay, R-Shaler, for ordering his staff to do campaign work on public time.

None of those cases resulted in criminal charges in federal court, and Ms. Buchanan would not comment on whether there were any investigations." (Post-Gazette 3/18/07)
Murphy isn't the only member of Congress Buchanan has ignored. In 2003, she gave a pass to Congressman Bill Shuster for using his congressional staff to spy on his political adversaries. (Post-Gazette 11/6/03 and 11/7/03)

We've been saying for months that Republican prosecutors, especially politically active ones, can and do ignore mountains of evidence while hammering Democrats. The Bush Administration's Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales is tangible and very recent proof of this reality.

Buchanan's tenure as Western PA US Attorney is just one more example of how blatant the partisanship can be. Democrats like Allegheny Coroner Cyril Wecht and Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy are worthy of millions for an investigation and prosecution, but Republicans like Congressman Tim Murphy and Senator Rick Santorum aren't?

The same holds true for Corbett and bonusgate. Reams of documents and hours of testimony have shown bonusgate extends well-beyond Veon and the eleven other Democrats arrested in 2008. Everyone in Harrisbug knows Corbett has more than enough to charge dozens and dozens of Republican members and staff.

Corbett has promised us "shocking" Republican indictments, but we aren't so sure he'll deliver.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The latest in hypocrisy from partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett is being exhibited in the kerfuffle between his campaign and GOP rival Congressman Jim Gerlach.

Allegheny County Republican Party Chair Jim Roddey was quoted in the Post-Gazette last week regarding the propriety of current Western PA US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan remaining in her office if she were to run for Congress:

"The county GOP leader said he did not see any ethical qualms with exploring a run while sitting as the chief federal prosecutor for Western Pennsylvania, and said Ms. Buchanan should step down only if she announces her candidacy." (Post-Gazette 10/9/09)
Oh, really? We were very surprised to read that since Roddey's horse in the GOP gubernatorial primary, Tom Corbett, is a sitting prosecutor who is already an announced candidate for office and hasn't resigned.

In fact, Gerlach has been saying for a few months that Corbett should step down for the very same reasons Roddey states Buchanan should resign. Gerlach pointed this out last week in a news release:
"We are glad that Chairman Roddey recognizes the 'ethical qualms' and clear conflict of interest that have existed for at least a month now, beginning on the day Corbett officially announced his campaign for governor," said Scott Migli, campaign manager for the Gerlach for Governor campaign. "We believe the same principle raised in the article applies to Corbett, and that's why we publicly asked for a suspension of his gubernatorial campaign or his resignation because it is very difficult to distinguish how Corbett separates his political investigation during the day from seeking political support at night." (Gerlach Campaign news release 10/9/09)
Clearly, this wasn't on the Corbett campaign message, so out comes Roddey's hypocritical clarification yesterday:
"In what can only be described as an intentional deception on the part of your campaign, you took my remarks and tried to deceive people into thinking they were applicable to your Gubernatorial opponent Tom Corbett...I must assume you know that the office of U.S. Attorney is an appointed position, and therefore political activities are restricted. I also assume you know that the state Attorney General position is elected, and therefore has no such restrictions." (Roddey letter to Gerlach 10/12/09)

Who are Corbett and Roddey trying to fool? At the time he made his original remarks, Roddey wasn't thinking about the appointed vs. elected distinction. He was stating what many believe is commonsense -- prosecutors should resign to avoid the mingling of politics and prosecutions.

It especially applies to Corbett's candidacy considering he is supposedly investigating Republicans in relation to bonusgate. Perhaps the argument that past Attorney Generals running for governor didn't resign would have credence, except that those AGs weren't running on-going political investigations and prosecutions concurrently with their campaigns.

This is just more of the same hypocrisy from Corbett and his supporters. They want everyone -- the political intelligensia, the media, the voters -- to hold Corbett to a different standard.

House Democrats are felons for using staff to campaign, but not Corbett. (York Daily Record 7/22/08)

2008 opponent John Morganelli is unethical for using an official parking placard (Patriot 8/26/08), but not Corbett's campaign chairperson, Justice Sandra Newman. (Fox 29)

Fundraising in the Capitol is illegal, but not if Corbett does it.

Keeping a promise is important, but not for Corbett if it comes to investigating Republicans. (Williamsport Sun-Gazette 8/18/09)

And now, US Attorney Buchanan should resign, but not Attorney General Corbett.

Until Corbett is held accountable, his hypocrisy will continue. Until Corbett delivers on his promise of "shocking" indictments of Republicans, he is nothing but a partisan, hypocritcal hack.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Our mission has been to point out the hypocrisy of partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett. Particularly related to his handling of the bonusgate investigation. And, oh boy, has he given us lots of material with which to work.

However, we've also taken the time to point out hypocrisy from any other source in the Capitol and there is one instance of that from this weekend that we just can't let go.

Democratic Appropriations Chair Dwight Evans' spokesperson, Johnna Pro, attempted to wax eloquent regarding the sacrosanct institution of the Pennsylvania General Assembly:

"'This institution has survived for 300 years,' said Johnna Pro, a spokeswoman for Evans, the House Appropriations Committee chairman. 'There's no doubt that the actions of some individuals in recent years has damaged the institution as a whole. I would like to think it will survive. I'm not sure it will. Will it be here? Sure. But can it be an institution that accomplishes something for the greater good of the people?'" (Patriot News 10/11/09)

That's poor grammar and a poor choice on the part of the ironically named Pro.

Earlier this year, the Morning Call's John Micek reported the House Democratic Caucus awarded a no-bid contract to a Florida "headhunting firm" in 2008 to search for employees to fill vacant positions. (Morning Call 3/5/09)

It also turns out that this same firm was a major contributor to Evans and Evans' allies in Philadelphia. (Micek Blog 3/6/09)

That's called pay-to-play, Ms. Pro, and we're sure that "[accomplishing] something for the greater good of the people" wasn't what Evans had in mind when he told Majority Leader Bill DeWeese to create a bogus need so it could be filled by a no-bid contract awarded to the company owned by campaign contributors.

While we're on the subject of scratching the backs of campaign contributors, it doesn't get any more blantant than a recent example of Evans' use of his non-profit, Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation.

Evans has WAM'd OARC with more than $23 million dollars in the past eight years. You can click on the following to see just a few of the most recent WAMs:

Make no mistake. OARC is controlled by Evans. He created it, he provides nearly all its funding and everyone associated with it are there because of Evans. In fact, we're not sure how the House Ethics committee allows Evans to circumvent House Rule 47 that expressly prohibits all these WAMs going to OARC:

"A member shall not create, maintain or cause to be created or maintained a legislative nonprofit organization. A "legislative nonprofit organization" means a nonprofit corporation or other entity whose primary purpose is to receive funds under the General Appropriations Act or another appropriations act at the discretion or by reason of the influence of a member for the use at the direction or discretion of the member."

Given that Evans controls OARC, it is disturbing to see that in March of this year it spent nearly a million dollars to pay the back taxes on a bankrupt nightclub called North by Northwest and subsequently to buy the property outright. (Philadelphia Inquirer 8/7/09)

It is even more disturbing to learn that all the failed partners of North by Northwest -- Hugh Clark, Carl and Rose Singley, Ina Walker and Ahmeenah Young -- have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Evans' political campaigns. You can see their most recent contributions here.

We're not sure buying a decrepit, failed nightclub with state funds "accomplishes something for the greater good of the people," Ms. Pro. And, we shouldn't have to remind you that Mike Veon was charged with multiple felonies for allegedly using Beaver Initiative for Growth Funds in the very same manner as this example from Evans. (Tribune Review 3/27/09)

The whole arrangement between Evans, OARC and North by Northwest was so unseemly that it led the Philadelphia Inquirer to editorialize:

"But remember, without Evans, there are no taxpayer dollars. And without taxpayers' dollars, there is no OARC. Without OARC, Young & partners are stuck with a failed business and paying their back taxes. Here's one opinion of how it all looks: Bad." (Inquirer 8/17/09)

While we're on the topic of similarities between Veon's BIG and Evans' OARC, we point out to Ms. Pro that Corbett charged Veon with multiple felonies for directing BIG to rent offices that were then shared with his legislative district offices. You can read that section of the grand jury presentment here.

Guess what other non-profit rents to and shares space with the legislative district office of their benefactor? That's right, Ms. Pro, OARC.

Evans' district office is located at 7174 Ogontz Avenue. He uses legislative funds to rent the space from ZAG. You can see from this Federal Form 990 that ZAG is a subsidiary of OARC. ZAG was and still may be in the same building as Evans' district office at 7178 Ogontz Ave.

Here's a picture of the entire ZAG/Evans district office complex. Anyone who ever went to the BIG/Veon district office on 7th Avenue in Beaver Falls will find the Evans set-up quite similar.

We want to be clear. We aren't calling Dwight Evans a hypocrite. From the beginning of Corbett's bonusgate investigation, Evans has said nothing publicly to disparage any of his former colleagues indicted by Corbett. Why whould he?

Evans knows that the largest bonus awarded to a House Democratic staff person was made by him to Miriam Fox, the Executive Director of the Democratic Appropriations Committee. (Post-Gazette 2/17/07)

Evans knows that he dodged a bullet when Corbett decided to not drag his two six-figure salary district office employees, Kim Turner and Terri Grantham, into a grand jury and question them under oath about how much work they've done on Evans' campaigns on state time using state phones, computers and equipment.

Evans knows there are so many more things that Corbett could blow the lid off of involving the use of his staff, his campaigns, contributions to his campaigns, WAMs and the passage of legislation. It would only take a few subpoenas and grand jury appearances.

While we're not calling Evans a hypocrite, we won't stand by and let an ill-informed loudmouth on his staff take a cheap-shot at those who Corbett has decided to investigate for the very same activity her boss has engaged in for years.

Keep up the good work, Dwight! The legislature is a better place with you in it...just tell Johnna Pro to put a sock in it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


The Patriot-News' Laura Vecsey writes today that this is the perfect time for partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett to finally annouonce his long-promised second round of bonusgate indictments:

"The budget nightmare is over. So how about a little entertainment, Pennsylvania?

A little word-eating?

How about a nice round of shoe-dropping?

These things are possible, according to Attorney General Tom Corbett, who has been promising more indictments of state lawmakers and General Assembly staffers.

What a fitting follow-up for a state gone wild should that shoe-dropping come now.

Lawmakers and staffers could be safely removed from their posts, and public attention is still aimed toward our 'leaders,' so there's no time like the present." (Patriot News 10/11/09)

We agree that now the budget is finalized the news cycle playing field is clear for Corbett to get the most bang for his buck with his next set of arrests.

Doesn't the fact Corbett would wait for a politically expedient time to make the announcement kind of prove the point so many have been making? That Corbett is milking his investigation for all the public relations gold it is worth?

Clearly, Corbett hasn't been held accountable for using political calculus to decide when to announce when he will "drop" his other bonusgate shoe. We always get a kick out of seeing the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review cartoon accompanying today's is from 3/25/09.

At the time, everyone thought Corbett was about to deliver on his promise of "shocking" Republican indictments. Instead, he gave us all the embarrassingly weak results of his BIG investigation. (Post-Gazette 5/22/09)

Nearly seven months after the Trib cartoon, the only thing that has changed is that Corbett is now an announced candidate for governor.

Hopefully, Corbett will be held accountable for what he eventually announces...if he announces. In February, he promised us all something "shocking." (Tribune-Review 2/20/09)

Shocking isn't one or two retired members and a couple staff.

Shocking isn't John Perzel and Brian Preski for a couple computer contracts. (Post-Gazette 11/15/08)

Shocking should rival or exceed the July 2008 jihad Corbett unleashed on the House Democratic Caucus.

Shocking should be an amount of money misappropriated by the Republicans that exceeds the amount of money Corbett has spent investigating (he won't say how much he's spent) and the caucuses have spent defending themselves (by August 2009 it had reached $8.2 million). (Tribune-Review 8/5/09)

Anything less is a joke.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Congressman Jim Gerlach points out how one of partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett's staunchest allies agrees that prosecutors should resign if they decide to run for political office.

Allegheny County Republican Chair Jim Roddey opined yesterday that Western PA US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan should resign if she decideds to run for Congress. That is good advice for Buchanan and certainly good advice for Corbett.

Here is the Gerlach Campaign release in its entirety:

--- For Immediate Release: October 9, 2009 ---


(Exton, PA) - Allegheny County Republican Chair Jim Roddey, a major Corbett for Governor supporter, was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette today stating that prosecutors seeking political office should "step down" when they announce their candidacy to avoid "ethical qualms." Corbett, who is an announced candidate and sitting state attorney general, has refused to step down from his position, despite raising money and political support for months while simultaneously investigating political corruption in both parties. Roddey's comments came in reference to a sitting U.S. prosecutor rumored to be exploring a run for Congress in western Pennsylvania.

"We are glad that Chairman Roddey recognizes the 'ethical qualms' and clear conflict of interest that have existed for at least a month now, beginning on the day Corbett officially announced his campaign for governor," said Scott Migli, campaign manager for the Gerlach for Governor campaign. "We believe the same principle raised in the article applies to Corbett, and that's why we publicly asked for a suspension of his gubernatorial campaign or his resignation because it is very difficult to distinguish how Corbett separates his political investigation during the day from seeking political support at night."

In August, Congressman Jim Gerlach called on Corbett to either suspend his gubernatorial campaign or resign his position as Attorney General while conducting a wide-ranging political investigation into both parties. Despite raising money and political support for his gubernatorial effort since March from within the same political circles as those he is supposed to be investigating, Corbett officially announced his candidacy September 14th and has refused calls to step down as Attorney General.

Last month, the Patriot News, which first discovered the illegal bonuses that led to Corbett's investigation, raised further concerns about Corbett's political ambitions while trying to run a full-time investigation. The editorial board called on Corbett to make a decision by October, stating that "too much is at stake for taxpayers and good governance to see this critical investigation be called into question by election politics."

And while other editorial boards around the state have called on Corbett to drop his bid for Governor, the Chambersburg Public Opinion wrote that "it doesn't bode well for the state's highest office when a leading candidate seems to mix the pursuit of justice with his own ambitions."

Former US Attorney David Marston agreed. In an editorial he penned back in April, Marston said Corbett "does us all a disservice" by trying to campaign and prosecute at the same time, and that he needs to choose one over the other. He added that it raises too many questions: "if you were a state legislator under prosecutor Corbett's microscope, would it not seem prudent to support Corbett for governor?" "Is he advancing the public interest in honest government, or his personal interest in becoming governor?" "Worse, the trials of cases brought in Bonusgate could very well take place during the heat of the gubernatorial race, presenting defense attorneys with a potent argument that it really is all about politics."


Thursday, October 8, 2009


Steeler's quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's on-going legal battle surrounding the rape allegation made against him makes for an interesting comparsion to two cases partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett is involved in right here in Pennsylvania.

Even non-Steeler fans find Roethlisberger's accuser's accusations suspect. Yet the judge assigned to the case decided to let it proceed:

"Washoe District Judge Brent Adams rejected arguments that the suit should be dismissed, saying the woman's allegations make a 'sufficient' claim that if proven, would entitle her to relief. 'The court recognizes that a motion to dismiss is only proper where it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff could prove no set of facts which, if true, would entitle them to relief.'" (SI Mobile 10/8/09)

Given the paucity of substantiating evidence for Roethlisberger's accuser's claims and the suspect timing of her accusations, the judge's decision is a great illustration of how low the bar is to actually bring a case to trial.

Which brings us from Big Ben to BIG.

As you all remember, Corbett and his crack team of investigators brought charges against Mike Veon for his handling of Beaver Initiative for Growth funds. When the charges were presented to a judge at a preliminary hearing, the evidence presented was so weak that before the judge made a ruling, Deputy Attorney General Tony Krastek withdrew some of the charges himself.

Then, in an unprecedented ruling for such a high-profile case, and in reaction to the complete and utter failure of Corbett to present evidence to substantiate his charges, Judge Joseph Solomon dismissed the remaining charges against Veon:

"'We don't have conclusive evidence here today that substantiates the charges we've heard'...There might be 'one or two' charges that 'possibly could be held for court,' he said, 'but in front of a jury, I don't think you're going to be able to sustain guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.'" (Post-Gazette 5/29/09)

Of course, this was a stunningly embarrassing turn of events for Corbett, and his team immediately rushed to mitigate the damage by calling into the question Solomon's rationale for his ruling. Here is Krastek lambasting the judge:

"He said he felt that the evidence had met the relatively low legal standard for preliminary hearings, 'not whether a jury might convict or would convict.'" (Post-Gazette 5/29/09)

Beside the incredible fact that Corbett and his investigators couldn't meet the self-avowedly low standard to bind a case over for trial, our interest was piqued by Krastek's criticism.

Which brings us from BIG to Bedford.

In the summer of 2008, Bedford County DA and important Corbett political ally William Higgins was accused of raping an intoxicated woman in his office after a Republican Party fundraiser. (Post-Gazette 8/27/08)

Conveniently for Higgins, the investigation was turned over to Corbett. Predictibly, Corbett ostensibly conducted an investigation and decided to not bring charges against Higgins. (Altoona Mirror 2/27/09)

No one should be surprised that Corbett would let a political ally and campaign contributor like Higgins off the hook by ignoring all the evidence. He's done it before for friends and GOP insiders, most notably York County DA Stan Rebert.

What also isn't surprising is the rank hypocrisy exhibited by Corbett in his stated reasons to not file charges on behalf of a potential rape victim against a close political ally. Here is Corbett's tax-payer funded political mouthpiece Kevin Harley discussing Corbett's decision to exonerate Higgins:

''It is also based on the improbability of obtaining a conviction in this case." (Altoona Mirror 2/27/09)

That is the very same reasoning Solomon gave to dismiss the BIG charges and that Corbett so strenously disagreed with resulting in his decision to re-file the charges against Veon in order to get a friendlier (and Republican) judge!

Keep in mind the very low standard for bringing accusations of rape into the courtroom as exhibited by the Roethlisberger case, and it becomes flabbergasting to realize how far Corbett will go to protect his GOP friends.

The scuttlebutt in Harrisburg is that now the state budget will be finalized over the weekend Corbett will finally bring what he has promised will be "shocking" indictments against Republicans.

Perhaps Corbett will deliver on this promise.

But, considering how brazen Corbett has been in ignoring other Republican misdeeds, we're not holding our breath. At best, we think Corbett's much-anticipated second round of indictments will be be very, very underwhelming...if there even are any Republican arrests.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

STILP: BONUSGATE BECOMING "CORBETTGATE" breaks the news today that Harrisburg activist Gene Stilp is calling upon partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett to step down from his post as Attorney General because of the danger of politicizing his bonusgate investigation:

“Tom Corbett can not serve two masters and be credible. 1000 days is a reasonable line in the sand. Now that he is running for governor he must leave the Attorney General post. He can’t do both without jeopardizing the non-political character any investigation should maintain. If he doesn’t step down maybe we should call it Corbettgate...All doubt must be removed from the mind of the voter that the investigation is political. As long as Tom Corbett is the Attorney General while he is running for governor a cloud of suspicion hangs over his campaign as to his motives for indicting or not indicting certain individuals.”

We only disagree with Stilp on one point...Corbett has already bastardized this investigation. That train left the station a long time ago.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


In the Pennsylvania Republican Party, with very few exceptions, locking up the nomination for Governor requires a nominee to win the Republican State Committee endorsement. (Daily News 1/26/06)

The Republican State Committee consists of local elected officials, large campaign contributors and individuals who are very much influenced by local elected officials and large campaign contributors.

Certainly, these committee people are very much influenced by their state legislators.

For these reasons, it is troubling that partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett continues to insist that he can be both a candidate and an impartial investigator of public corruption both at the state and local level.

Last month, Corbett's GOP gubernatorial rival Congressman Jim Gerlach questioned Corbett's ability to ethically campaign for governor seeking endorsements and campaign contributions from state legislators while concurrently conducting his bonusgate investigation of the very same state legislators.

On Friday, Democratic State Party Chairman TJ Rooney questioned whether Corbett could equitably investigate Republican local elected officials and party activists while at the same time seeking their support for his gubernatorial campaign. (Centre Daily 10/3/09)

Corbett's bonusgate investigation isn't just about how and why legislative bonuses were awarded. He has made it clear that his use of statewide grand juries also includes:

As Attorney General, Corbett has consistently turned a blind eye to local Republican malfeasance in these very areas.

The most recent example in Centre County stretches credulity to believe that Corbett can somehow conduct a neutral criminal investigation of the office of his protege, Centre County Mike Madeira. (Centre Daily 5/13/05)

But, this is just more of the same from Corbett:

Corbett's consistently blind eye doesn't just include elected officials. He has also ignored outright criminal activity by significant campaign contributors to both his campaigns and the Republican party and its candidates.

Former Erie County Republican Chairman and Corbett campaign contributor (over $2,000) John Mizner robbed his law firm. But the Republican Erie County DA refused to prosecute Mizner and so did Corbett. (Erie Times 7/27/07)

Just as egregiously, GOP uber-donor Vahan Guerghian has used his state-funded charter school as a personal piggy bank, yet there isn't a whiff of an investigation by Corbett. (Inquirer 12/30/08)

Perhaps that is becuase Guerghian has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in just the last two years both individually and through his Campaign for PA's Future PAC to Republican candidate committees and Republican county committees...including $10,000 to Corbett directly.

Corbett's taxpayer-funded campaign manager Brian Nutt is becoming well known for saying goofy things, but after reviewing just these few documented cases of Corbett blantantly ignoring Republican misdeeds, we think Nutt set a new standard for goofiness when he told Capitolwire recently that campaign polling results "clearly show that the families of Pennsylvania support Tom Corbett's relentless fight against corruption in Pennsylvania." (Capitolwire 9/30/09)

Or perhaps Nutt is mistaking the term "relentless" for "limp." We guess that only those who know Nutt intimately will know if he usually mixes the two up.

We do know that Corbett selectively chooses to use his authority to investigate these local Republicans. Time and again, Corbett, Nutt and the taxpayer funded flak Kevin Harley say Corbett doesn't have jurisdiction.

But, Corbett didn't have jurisdictional problems with bringing charges against former Democratic Rep. Linda Bebko-Jones for filing fraudulent petitions or to drag dozens of Penn Hills officials and employees in front his grand jury to hassel Democratic Rep. Tony DeLuca. (Tribune Review 3/24/09)

Corbett knows his chances of winning the Republican State Committee endorsement decreases if he drags committee members or those close to committee members in front of a grand jury. In the case of Guerghian, some Southeastern Pennsylvania Republican committees depend on his largess.

Gerlach and Rooney don't agree on much, but on this one point it is obvious why they both agree. Corbett making a bid for governor while supposedly policing all levels of Pennsylvania government is a joke.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Folks in the Capitol are always sending us tips and the latest rumors. The most active subject is whether or not former House Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese will be sucked into partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett's "shocking" second round of bonusgate indictments.

Dodged a bullet?

Some of us at CasablancaPA believe Corbett won't indict DeWeese, and that he dodged a bullet when Corbett completely ignored the mountain of evidence against DeWeese that was available to him. Corbett's stunning failure to indict DeWeese suggests that DeWeese may be the person granted secret immunity in October of 2007.

As was well-documented in the Veon pre-trial filings this summer, Corbett had thousands of incriminating emails and hours of testimony that clearly inculpate DeWeese in the same allegedly criminal acts committed by the twelve Democrats who were arrested.

Corbett has apparently ignored all of it. Otherwise, why didn't he arrest DeWeese in July of 2008?

Further evidence that DeWeese has dodged the bullet can be found in DeWeese's campaign committee payments to Kevin Sidella's political consulting firm, the WS Group.

It's well-documented that, while employed by the House Democratic Caucus, Kevin Sidella was a taxpayer-funded political operative for DeWeese:
"Mr. Sidella told investigators that he handled numerous partisan political chores while on Mr. DeWeese's staff, including fundraising duties for Mr. DeWeese's re-election campaigns." -- Post-Gazette 6/28/09
And, it was made crystal clear in emails, testimony and published reports that DeWeese directly supervised Sidella while he worked on political chores:
"Nick Rodriguez-Cayro, Sidella's attorney, said his client had cooperated fully with the probe. 'Let me make it clear: He was an employee - not a manager - who followed the directions he was given by his supervisors,' he said of Sidella. Asked who those supervisors were, Rodriguez-Cayro said DeWeese and his former chief of staff." -- Inquirer 4/6/09
Incredibly, Sidella has been providing this incriminating testimony to Corbett for nearly two years:
"Harrisburg attorney Nick Rodriguez-Cayro confirmed another former DeWeese aide, Kevin Sidella, has been cooperating with investigators for nearly a year." -- Patriot 10/17/08
Given that Sidella's attorney is publicly saying that his client has been providing Corbett with testimony for over two years regarding the campaign work done at DeWeese's behest, most people would think DeWeese and Sidella would have cut off most contact with each other. If not of their own volition, then certainly at the request of their attorneys, Corbett's investigators or both.

That's why Team CasablancaPA finds it shocking that from the time Sidella left his job as DeWeese's taxpayer-funded fundraiser, DeWeese has been paying Sidella's company a monthly retainer and expenses to continue raising money for his compaign.

Bill DeWeese Campaign Committee finance reports filed at the PA Department of State show that DeWeese paid the WS Group a $6,250 monthly retainer and expenses beginning on 9/14/07 continuing to December of 2008 (under certain circumstances campaign finance laws do not require State House campaigns to file a report for 2009 activity until 1/31/10.)

The total is over $125,000. You can see an itemized list here.

If Corbett were to bring charges against DeWeese, Sidella would be his star witness. So, it stands to reason that if DeWeese were in any way at risk of being charged then under no circustances would Corbett's investigators or Sidella's lawyers allow Sidella or the WS Group to take money from DeWeese.

DeWeese paying Sidella and the WS Group during the entire period of Corbett's bonusgate investigation is compelling evidence that Corbett is ignoring documents he's gathered and the testimony he's heard - notably Sidella's - and won't bring charges against DeWeese.

Back in the line of fire?

Others at CasablancaPA believe that DeWeese may initially have dodged a bullet, but that he recently stepped back into Corbett's line of fire due to the goofy antics of his crack legal team of Bill Chadwick and Bill Sloane.

Many conversations in the Capitol have been centered around how DeWeese's attorneys, at DeWeese's request, held back subpoenaed items from Corbett.

First of all, any sealed immunity agreement between DeWeese and Corbett probably would have required DeWeese to turn over everything he could find, and Corbett would instruct his investigators to pooh-pooh anything incriminating involving DeWeese.

However, it appears that DeWeese may have blundered by not giving everything to Corbett. (Post-Gazette 6/28/09)

According to the Post-Gazette, DeWeese's legal team kept at least one box full of very incriminating evidence from Corbett and it turned up earlier this year:
"Four sources with firsthand knowledge of the discovery say the box contained printouts of Democratic caucus e-mails and was found by Nora Winkelman, a lawyer for the newly installed Democratic caucus leadership, as she moved into an office previously occupied by Michael Edmiston." (Post-Gazette 6/28/09)
It is important to note that the last occupant of Winkelman's current office, 622 MC, wasn't Edmiston. Between Edmiston tenure and Winkelman's, 622 MC belonged to DeWeese's Chief Counsel, Bill Sloane. Here is a directory showing that 622 MC was Sloane's all the way up to 2009.

It's no wonder Sloane didn't turn over this box of evidence because according to the Post-Gazette, it contained some very incriminating information regarding DeWeese:
"The data in the box also include campaign donation spreadsheets that appear to have been assembled on a state computer...

Sources close to the investigation say the documents appear to suggest widespread campaign activity inside Mr. DeWeese's Harrisburg and district offices during state work hours...

According to sources, Ms. Winkelman found a box of printouts of e-mails dating to earlier this decade and stretching to 2004, some of them including responses by Mr. DeWeese. Several people who have seen the e-mails say some of them discuss plans to use caucus employees to press ballot challenges to candidates Mr. DeWeese did not want on the Pennsylvania ballot.

Other e-mails reportedly included exchanges with staff at Mr. DeWeese's district office in Waynesburg, Greene County, outlining election work.

Among those copied on e-mails was Kevin Sidella, who worked as an aide to Mr. DeWeese and who was granted immunity from prosecution in return for his cooperation.

Mr. Sidella told investigators that he handled numerous partisan political chores while on Mr. DeWeese's staff, including fundraising duties for Mr. DeWeese's re-election campaigns...

Two sources said [Sidella] has stated that many of his work days, especially during election years, consisted primarily of political chores, notably raising funds for Mr. DeWeese's re-election...

They include a series of spreadsheets dating to 2006 that Mr. Sidella assembled, keeping track of Mr. DeWeese's campaign expenses and expenditures throughout a difficult re-election challenge."

Computer time stamps suggest that the spreadsheets were likely assembled using software owned by the House Democratic Caucus -- a taxpayer-funded entity -- and a state computer.

Mr. Sidella testified before the grand jury that he had assembled the spreadsheets at his state computer in Mr. DeWeese's office with Mr. DeWeese's knowledge." (Post-Gazette 6/28/09)
If holding back this box of incriminating evidence weren't bad enough, a little-noticed portion of Veon's July 2009 pre-trial motion shows how Sloane also failed to properly respond to a subpoena by withholding documents subpoenaed from Brett Cott that connected Sidella to the Nader petition challenges. You can see Exhibit E 26 of the filing here.

The conjecture in the Capitol is that Corbett probably could explain away sparing DeWeese in the face of a gargantuan amount of incriminating evidence, but he couldn't do that and at the same time excuse DeWeese for not fully answering subpoenas.

Consequently, the exposure of DeWeese's failure to fully answer Corbett's subpoenas may have put DeWeese squarely back into Corbett's sights and nullified the sealed immunity agreement Corbett may have had with DeWeese.

So, the debate rages on as to whether DeWeese dodged a bullet or if he blundered himself back in the line of fire.

If Corbett fulfills his promise to bring his "shocking" second set of indictments soon, then we'll learn for certain whether a sealed immunity agreement can hold in in the face of some clearly shady maneuvers.