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.


Anonymous said...


Republicans called to testify on Bonusgate
By Mario F. Cattabiani

Inquirer Staff Writer

HARRISBURG - Prosecutors have offered Rep. John M. Perzel of Philadelphia, the former speaker of the Pennsylvania House, a chance to testify before the so-called Bonusgate grand jury in what lawyers say is a sign that criminal charges may soon be filed against him.

Perzel's former chief of staff, Brian Preski, and as many as 10 other current and former House Republican aides have received similar letters, according to lawyers with knowledge of the investigation.

Perzel, 59, could not be reached for comment yesterday. In the past he has said he did nothing improper with the state money that is at the center of the investigation.

Perzel's lawyer, former acting state Attorney General Walter Cohen, declined to comment yesterday, saying he wouldn't discuss any issues relating to the grand jury because of its secrecy restrictions.

The letters from prosecutors, received within the last two weeks, are the clearest indication yet that state Attorney General Tom Corbett, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, is contemplating criminal charges against members of his own party in the sweeping probe known as Bonusgate.

To date, a dozen Harrisburg insiders, all Democrats, have been charged in the 33-month political corruption probe.

The letters from prosecutors in Corbett's office invite Perzel and the other recipients to testify Monday before the grand jury. The letters say such testimony would be voluntary and given without a grant of immunity.

Experts say such letters from state authorities are akin to the "target letters" that federal prosecutors often use to advise people that they are likely to face criminal charges.

"It's not good news to the people who receive them," said George Parry, a Philadelphia lawyer and a former federal and city prosecutor who is representing several witnesses in the Bonusgate investigation. "It's a sign that this [state] investigation is coming to an end, and it's a sign that you are a person they are looking at very hard in terms of bringing charges."

Two lawyers representing various people in the long-running investigation confirmed yesterday that the letters had arrived. The lawyers spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Kevin Harley, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, declined to comment on the letters, citing grand-jury secrecy rules.


Anonymous said...

Past interviews with various grand-jury witnesses and their lawyers suggest that prosecutors are focusing on whether top House Republicans improperly used a $9 million taxpayer-funded database to improve their chances of winning elections.

The database in question employed complex algorithms to search large amounts of data as varied as motor-vehicle records and credit-card purchases to build up profiles of voters. It was developed by a company called GCR & Associates of New Orleans under a contract signed in 2002 by Perzel, then the House majority leader.

Perzel has said that neither he nor anyone in his office used the database for campaigns. Rather, he has said, it was designed to help provide constituent services.

Known for his bare-knuckle brand of politics, Perzel has represented Northeast Philadelphia in the House since 1979. He took over as speaker in 2003.

In January 2007, after Democrats won a House majority of the 203 seats, they voted Perzel out as speaker. Since then, he has remained largely out of the spotlight - a great departure for someone who had considered a gubernatorial bid in 2010.

Preski's lawyer, William Winning, declined to comment.

Preski had for years served as Perzel's chief of staff and a top aide to his campaign team before leaving state government in 2007 to go into private practice in Philadelphia.

In July of last year, based on recommendations of the grand jury, Corbett filed charges against a dozen House Democratic insiders, including former House Whip Mike Veon of Beaver County. The 12 are accused of conspiring to award millions in government bonuses to legislative staffers as a reward for working on political campaigns.

Corbett has said from the start that he would be investigating all four legislative caucuses - Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate.

In February, he told reporters that the next round of charges in Bonusgate would "shock the conscience of people" because of the amount of taxpayer money involved.

Today marks the 1,000th day since the public first learned of what came to be known as Bonusgate. In January 2007, the Patriot-News of Harrisburg broke a story questioning the bonus payments to legislative aides.

Yesterday, on the eve of the anniversary, a group of Harrisburg activists scolded Corbett for dragging out the investigation and called on him to step down as attorney general if he continues to run for governor.

"It's lasted longer than Watergate," said Gene Stilp, founder of the Harrisburg-based Taxpayers and Ratepayers United.



Anonymous said...

Let me tell ya how it goes, You meet somebody. Maybe they are a little off-center, but they tell you the truth, and you like them, you like them for that. And one thing leads to another.


This is Harrisburg This is our town.

Out here you’re a trespasser.

Out here we can pick you up, bust your house up, dump on your wife, and sale your dog.

And the only thing that will protect you is if We cannot find you.

And We already found you.

Anonymous said...

I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression.

Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter.

Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be.

We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy.

It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore.

We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms.

Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'

Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad!

I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write.

I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street.

All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, I'm a HUMAN BEING, Goddamnit!

My life has VALUE!

So I want you to get up now.

I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell,


I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore! Things have got to change.

But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!

Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it:


Anonymous said...

Why are they being "asked" to testify at the grand jury, they should be COMPELLED to testify.

I understand that they can plead the fifth when asked about their own conduct, but you could get Perzel to testify against Preski, and then get Preski to testify against Perzel, unless of course, Corbett intends to indict them all for conspiracy, as well.

They are all corrupt, they all were doing it, and they all believe that this is normal PA politics and how dare anyone look into their activities. Let's go, PA Clean Sweep

Anonymous said...

It's for sure a Prosecutors man's world in America. Look here how we raised that boy since he was the size of a piss-ant.

And I'll say right now, he never learned to read and write. No, sir. Had no brains at all. Was stuffed with rice pudding between the ears.

Shortchanged by the Lord, and dumb as a jackass. Look at him now! Yes, sir, all you've gotta be is prosecutor in America, to get whatever you want.


Anonymous said...

The real question the so-called press should be asking is whether there is a Corbett/Marino/Marsico/Denaples relationship ? If there is a relationship, what is it ? I understand there are inquiring minds asking that question.

Anonymous said...

You are giving yourself way too much credit here. But that happens with people who have huge egos.
Corbett has said all along that there was more to come. Anyone familiar with investigations like this knows they take on a life of their own, and doing them right takes time. It is not like the movies, where things are wrapped up quickly. How long did it take the feds to nail Fumo?
Now that Corbett is on the cusp of charging some Republicans, you are taking the credit for that? What a hoot.
What you should be worrying about is what you are going to do for a "living" when Corbett charges members of his own party.
When he does that, he will kick your reason for being right in the ass. You will not be able to call him "partisan" any more.
Not to fear, though. I am certain you will find something else to criticize him for.

Anonymous said...

I am curous. Have Signor Ferrari or Ugarte ever received a "target letter" like the ones reportedly sent to top GOPers?
I believe they probably did. If so could they please scan and post them here for all to see?
I have never seen one. Then again, I have never been the target of a grand jury investigation for doing anything wrong.

Anonymous said...

"Five of the 12 defendants in the government corruption scandal known as Bonusgate have agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors"

The sun is setting on this site...nice knowing you Signor Ferrari and Ugarte...remember to bring some smokes...they're like cash in there.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said..."Five of the 12 defendants in the government corruption scandal known as Bonusgate have agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors" The sun is setting on this site...nice knowing you Signor Ferrari and Ugarte...remember to bring some smokes...they're like cash in there. October 23, 2009 9:57 AM"

It is six, Rachel Manzo will not be approved until all testimony is concluded from others.

On to the RepubliCONS!

Anonymous said...

At a certain point, a Team Casa must own their own actions. For Mike Manzo, Foreman, Lavelle and now the Brubakers and Rachel Manzo, that point came 27 to 6 months in, when Bonusgate Charges happened and negotiations for plea deals began in earnests. From that point on, the Team Casa and all their decisions, all the credit and blame for them was theirs.

The People of the Commonwealth did not exactly hold them all responsible for what led up to Bonusgate, but the people now will hold them responsible for everything after it. This is part of the reason the image of them standing on the rubble of the crumbling website, media links in hand, and became an iconic one. It said: The Hypocrisy of Tom Corbett.

Team Casa surely knew from the moment they put the website up that they would be judged on everything that followed. In addition, they have been. Early on, some critics of Corbett rallied to their support, but The People of the Commonwealth and Media Elites are a practical people. They will support a leader when there is trouble, but there is an unspoken demand, or rather bargain: We are behind you, now fix this, it is yours.

Team Casa, in office when Bonusgate hit, now owns their own fate, and one cannot run from it, point at others, and just face it. Do they know it? They too stand on rubble, figuratively speaking, a collapsed of all support, mocking by others, and now six of them betraying the six remaining for trial with the truth. Everyone knows what he or she is standing on now. You can almost see the fire and smoke rising around them. They still have the website every day, but now it is growing dimmer not enlighten as they wished.

It is his now. They have two choices now get the credit or accept the blame. How do we know this? The People of the Commonwealth, Media, and their own fellow Indictees are telling him. You can see it in the blogs for months now. That is what their falling blogs and numbers of posts are about. It has been almost 3 years, you own this. Fix it or end it!

Team Casa does not seem to like this moment. Who would? They and the men and but fewer women now have returned to referring to what they inherited from the pillaging of state money, employees, and resources on state time. Moreover, what they inherited was, truly, terrible: again, a bonusgate scandal ever so lightly formed from Fumo’s previous heavy footsteps. Nevertheless, their recent return to the theme that everybody did it and hypocrisy is everywhere is unbecoming. Worse, it is politically unpersuasive. It sounds defensive, like a dodge.

Team Casa said last week, the OAG is not doing anything but covering up somebody else's mess, and they do not enjoy somebody sitting back and saying, You're not holding the mop the right way.

Later, in the last weeks, they grumbled that reporters are not always asking, why haven't you solved what others did too? Their surrogates in blogs have taken to remembering, sometimes at great length, the crisis they were in when the prep walks began.

This is not a sign of confidence. Nor were Team Casa's comments to an opinionated bunch always having a lot of thoughts and views on others from Corbett to DeWeese to Eachus to George to Sunyak to Fina to Harley to Stetler.

Moreover, always on top of the Republicans, on the other hand and the other side, are not big on independent thinking. They just kind of sometimes do what they are told is what Team Casa implied. The Democrats, on the other hand always thinking for themselves.


Anonymous said...


It is never a good sign when the Team Casa gets folksy, dropping their gigs, blogs, and links, because they by nature are not a folksy blog dropper but a coolly calibrating intellectual machine always trying to guess, as most politicians do, what normal people think. When Team Casa gets folksy, they are not narrowing their distance from public audience but underlining it. They should not do this but they do it anyway.

Nevertheless, those statements that Republicans just do what they are told was like some bloggers descriptions here about unhappy employees as people who turn in old bosses overpaying themselves and their wives.

Team Casa enjoyed what comes over other lawmakers at fund-raisers forgetting PJ Lavelle was the first to plead out what was happening after LaGrotta investigations, informants, arrests and plead deals to save his own pension. Both statements speak of a political misjudgment of opponents and the bonusgate situation. They show a misdiagnosis of the opposition that is politically tin-eared. Politicians looking to win do not patronize, fundraise, nor chummy up to those they are trying to avoid from scandal.

The big, final, and conclusive points are the entire Legislative bodies of parties, senate and legislature inherited a terrible situation. Team Casa argument “It's Not Our Fault”, line of reasoning is, again, that it is worse than unbecoming. It is unpersuasive in every sense of the word.

How do we know this? Through the blogs. In all of the major blogs, Team Casa's popularity has gone down. Ominously for them, independents’ thinking is peeling off and one can see anger and frustration by the blog wars, they sought to rebuke the OAG and Corbett. The citizens no longer are concern about Bonusgate and that means unfairness, excuses or even logical reason it happen. The People of the Commonwealth are more worried about joblessness, debts, and deficits.

Team Casa sees the falling support and thus gave a flurry of posts with links as reminder, that not just they all of us are facing insuperable challenges and will be the victims of mopping up all of the mess.

At the same time, the Democratic Party too sees the falling support, and is misunderstanding it. Team Casa thinks it can play the long game, which takes patience and skill. The problem is not his personality, it is their policies of finger pointing at their own former friends. Team Casa problem is not what the OAG is doing and not doing but what Corbett has done.

It is a problem of political judgment, of putting forth deeply flawed or off-point arguments about taking down everyone. Frank LaGrotta set this OAG Bailouts, the day he chose to report on the unlawful use of HDCC mingling of Commonwealth resources with wives, sisters, nieces, and family personal stimulus bonus packages at the exact moment in history when Pennsylvanians were turning their concerns to the economy, joblessness, debt and deficits, no longer bonusgate. All of these reflect a misreading of the political and judicial terrain. They are matters of political and judicial judgments, not personality. Team Casa missed the entire point that the practices and policies of Fumo is . Where the break with the people occurred.

The result of all this is flagging public support, friends peeling off, in this atmosphere, with these dynamics, of excuse begging and defensiveness will not work. Everyone knows he Fumo and Bonusgate are handed horror. The People of the Commonwealth want to fix. At some point, you own the pinnacles of powers but once your power becomes rubble. At some point, the People of the Commonwealth tell you it is your time to go and fine another career vocation. That is the People of the Commonwealth telling Team Casa today if you read all the blogs.

Pensions will be gone no matter what deals are agreed too. Trials will not change those outcomes. The political elite are moving on to seek economic recovery and Bonusgate has had it last gasp among all involved.

Anonymous said...

All of the legalese and all of the political sniping can't negate the fact that Tom Corbett is a politician who is using the publicity from BONUSGATE to conjure up the phony image of him being the "crime fighter who - as Governoe - will save Pennsylvania from the horrible corruption that has infested every corner of the state capitol."
Tom, please! Spare us.
You can fool the idiots out there that don't know you, but those of us who do know you and have worked with you know all about your relationship with Bob Asher and Lou DeNaples ($55,000 in contributions from DeNaples Tom? Really!)
My grandmother used to have a saying about accusing others of crimes you, yourself are guilty of:
"Don't spit up in the air. It always comes down and hits you in the face."
Your day of reckoning is coming Tom.
You will not be governor of Pennsylvania once the truth about you comes out.

Anonymous said...

Let us break this down mathematically. Tom Corbett has charged 12 people in Bonusgate thus far. Five of those 12 have agreed to plead guilty in return for lesser penalties (a common legal practice).
That means 42% of the people Corbett has charged have admitted guilt BEFORE any trials. If Rachel Manzo is added to that list as speculated, Corbett is really batting .500 with 50 percent already admitting guilt.
In baseball if a player bats .300 he is considered a great hitter. Corbett would be an MVP and a shoo in for the Hall of Fame. And he's not done batting yet.

Anonymous said...

Or you could look at it this way: He charged six people with 116 counts and got convictions on 24. One of the defendants is getting off entirely scott-free. What do you call a .200 batter? Below the Mendoza line. And as you say, things could get even worse.

Anonymous said...

I would rather be politically dead than hypocritically immortalized.