Friday, November 27, 2009


"It just doesn't matter."

At least that is what partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett and his taxpayer funded campaign flaks would have you believe when questioned about the propriety of conducting his bonusgate investigation while running for governor.

But, it does matter and not just for appearance's sake. Unlike any other elected official, the Attorney General has the power to indict other politicians...and more importantly the power to intimidate using his perogative.

Perhaps this is why gubernatorial rival Congressman Jim Gerlach has been such a wet noodle when it comes to criticizing Corbett on this point:
“I’ve not said [Corbett’s] unethical, I’ve not said he’s in any way dishonest – and don’t believe that he is,” Gerlach said. “But I do believe that conflict exists, and I do think for Pennsylvania and for that office that conflict needs to be resolved.” (Capitolwire 11/23/09)
Get some stones, Congressman. Or, are you just a tad worried about calling Corbett exactly what he is -- unethical and dishonest -- since Corbett has already gratuitiously (and opportunistically) featured your campaign manager, Scott Migli, in his latest grand jury presentment. (Tribune Review 11/13/09)

Corbett wants you to believe that it just doesn't matter that Migli was included in the presentment while not being charged:
"As to why he (Migli) was included in the presentment, 'I would leave that to the attorney general to answer.' Corbett's spokesman Kevin Harley would say only that the presentment names several people who were not charged."
But, it does matter. Grand jury presentments shouldn't be used to score political points and provide campaign fodder for future campaign mailings and television commercials. What is the over/under on either Corbett or an independent group using the information about Migli and the grand jury?

Corbett wants you to believe that it just doesn't matter that he had a private meeting with John Perzel with only his chief political adivisor, Brian Nutt, present while an investigation of Perzel was in effect or that Brian Preski was aggressively raising money for Corbett while under an active investigation:
"Corbett on Thursday said that the Perzel meeting and Preski fundraiser came 'at a time when we didn't have all the facts in front of us' but that he has no concerns about the propriety of those events. 'There has been very little contact with these individuals since that period of time, once we understood where everything was going with this investigation,' Corbett added." (Daily News 11/17/09)
But, it does matter. Corbett's excuse makes absolutely no sense and is devoid of any ethical rationale.

Perzel and Preski were allegedly under investigation and any political contact was inappropriate. Did the subsequent investigation of Perzel result from his not being sufficiently supportive of Corbett's gubernatorial asperations at their private meeting? After all, at the time, Easterner Patrick Meehan was still in the running. Did Preski's arrest result from insufficient performance of raising money?

Corbett wants you to believe that it doesn't matter that PA Turnpike Vice-Chairman Tim Carson is a prominent fundraiser for his campaign even though Corbett is actively investigating the Turnpike:
"Brian Nutt, campaign manager for the Corbett campaign, responded that Carson’s name was on a fundraising invitation last month. He added those names can be for a variety of reasons, sometimes as a courtesy, and that the campaign sees no conflict." Capitolwire 11/23/09)
But, it does matter. Carson is one of the five ultimate decision makers at the Turnpike and any investigation of any decision the Turnpike commissioners have made would lead to him.

In fact, has posted an internal PA Turnpike email listing documents pertaining to individuals/organizations that must be retained due to Corbett's investigation. ("Penn Pike employees get order to preserve documents for corruption investigations" 11/16/09) Not only is Carson's law firm, Saul Ewing, on the list, but Carson's very small and very exclusive lobbying firm, CHH Partners, is among those being closely investigated by Corbett.

Will Carson's fundraising ability influence whether or not he is indicted by Corbett? How much campaign largess from Carson and Carson's contacts (i.e. wealthy Turnpike contractors) is enough to keep out of a grand jury presentment? For that matter, will the tens of thousands in campaign contributions to Corbett already made by another Turnpike Commissioner, Pasquale Deon, be enought to keep Deon out of hot water?

It is disingenous for Corbett to say that he can be trusted to not let his political ambitions influence how his investigations are conducted and resolved. The Feds require US Attorneys to step down before running for office, and as the Chris Christie campaign in New Jersey illustrates, even then things can still remain unacceptably political in the prosecutors office. (TPM, 10/20/09)

And, it isn't accurate for Corbett to compare himself to Mike Fisher, another Attorney General who ran for Governor, because Fisher wasn't running an active and politically charged investigation of other politicians concurrently with his gubernatorial bid.

The numerous questions that will continue to arise as Corbett continues his investigation and continues to arrest other politicians.

Corbett and his taxpayer funded flaks will continue to say "it just doesn't matter" whenever confronted with questions of obvious conflicts of interests between Corbett's campaign and his investigations. His path to the Governor's mansion will be clear unless someone steps in his way and forcefully makes it clear to Corbett and the rest of Pennsylvania that it does matter.

We now present to you the CasablancaPA Players in a dramatic interpretation of Corbett hypnotizing the Pennsylvania press corp with his mantra of "it just doesn't matter" when asked about his campaign's conflict of interest with his investigation:


Monday, November 23, 2009


Plenty of pundits think it's suspicious that former House Speaker John Perzel's taxpayer-funded electioneering shenanigans took place right under the nose of House Republican Leader Sam Smith.

"[W]ho told GCR to stop giving the caucus members access to all that info and data in February and August of 2007? ... If [Chief of Staff Tony]Aliano and Smith didn't do it, who did?" (Capitolwire, via The Public Opinion)

"...But it is difficult to hear the accusations, without questioning either Smith's conduct or his judgment/competence. (Courier-Express)

"But Smith is the leader of the caucus and most of the events occurred on his watch." (Tribune-Review)

But no one seems to think it's suspicious that the shenanigans happened right under the nose of Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett. Which it did. If he's telling the truth about when he started investigating the caucus.

According to the presentment, Perzel's access to taxpayer-funded campaign information was cut off "about" August 2007. That's six months into Corbett's investigation. If Corbett is telling the truth about when he started investigating the caucus.

It was either pretty ballsy or incredibly stupid for the House Republican Caucus to go right on using a taxpayer-funded resource for campaigning even while Corbett was investigating the caucus for the use of taxpayer-funded resources for campaigning. If, indeed, he was investigating the caucus.

If Corbett is telling the truth about when he started investigating the caucus, surely the caucus members would have some little clue that was happening. Like when, in February 2007, Corbett said he was investigating all four caucuses. And yet, the caucus members were strangely unfazed.

If Corbett is telling the truth about when he started investigating the caucus, surely he would have had some little clue about Perzel's role when he met with him privately in October 2007. And yet, Corbett claims "we didn't have all the facts." He was eight months into his investigation and didn't have a clue that Perzel might be involved in taxpayer-funded electioneering?

That is, if he's telling the truth about when he started investigating the caucus.


Partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett's latest grand jury presentment has spawned quite a few impersonators of Democratic Whip Bill DeWeese:

"I was lied to!"

"I had no idea!"

"I never saw that happening!"

"I compensate for certain physical limitations, so I use big words and constantly remind everyone that I was a Marine!"

Oh, wait. Maybe not that last one.

The latest DeWeese imitator is former Republican State Rep. George Kenney from Northeast Philadelphia. Corbett's grand jury presentment goes into great detail about how Kenney assisted his buddy John Perzel in housing former Rep. Sue Cornell as a ghost employee in Kenney's district office. Mario Cattabiani with the Philadelphia Inquirer recounts in an item from this weekend:
It was 2006, and Cornell, a freshman state representative, had just been booted from office by Montgomery County voters, and she needed a job.

She turned to the person who had recruited her to run - then-Speaker John M. Perzel.

Perzel found her work, assigning her to the office of his fellow Philadelphia Republican, then-Rep. George Kenney, for the same $72,187 salary she had as a legislator.

"I'll sit and answer phones. I'll pick up your dry cleaning," she recalled telling Kenney when she first approached her new boss.

How did Kenney, a legislative veteran, respond? He "just kind of laughed," said Cornell.

For a month and a half, Cornell collected a state paycheck without doing any work or setting foot in Kenney's office. testimony from Pa ghost employee, Inquirer, 11/22/09)
When Cattabiani asked Kenney about the arrangement, we are treated to some classic, grade A, DeWeesian obfuscation:
Kenney, Cornell's oh-so-brief boss, said in an interview last week that he hadn't known beforehand that Perzel put Cornell on his staff, and that he hadn't approved of it after learning of it.

"I didn't need anybody. I had a full complement of staff," he said, adding that it was one of many things Perzel did in secret without telling others.

Kenney wouldn't elaborate on that point, other than to say, "There was a lot going on that many members didn't know anything about, and I was one of them." (Inquirer 11/22/09)
Oh, George. You're busted. Why lie?

Having a ghost employee is just one of the indictable offenses in which Kenney is implicated. Just like countless other members of both parties in the PA General Assembly, his district office staff did a tremendous amount of campaign work from his district office using state equipment on the tax-payers' dime.

From 2004 to the time Kenney left office, Claire Casey, Vince Furlong, Rosemary Lynch, Tom Pomrink, Jeanne Sgro and Henry Shain were remimbursed for over $110,000 in campaign expenses. And, as we've seen with Corbett's grand jury presentments that kind of campaign activity from district office staff is a clear indicator of allegedly illegal activity.

So, George, rather than lie about how you knew nothing, just keep your trap shut. It is unbecoming especially since you are so culpable on so many other levels.

Contrary to disingenuous public comments, no one in Harrisburg is shocked by any of the revelations in the presentments because what Corbett outlined is and was common and acceptable among every elected official in Harrisburg from time immemorial. In fact, using staff and state resources is such a common practice that Corbett himself parks his staff on state payroll and they have no qualms about using their phones and computers in their state offices on state time to work on his campaigns.

Allegedly having "ghost employees" working on campaigns is a common practice for which Corbett has cravenly chosen to indict only two sitting legislators - one washed-up and one back-bencher - while allowing every influential member off the the hook for the same crime...DeWeese and Kevin Sidella...Majority Leader Todd Eachus and Michael Thomas...former Rep. and current Secretary of Revenue Steve Stetler, former Rep. Tom Tangretti and Paul Martz.

Corbett's investigation and presentments aren't about uncovering the truth or punishing those for allegedly breaking the law.

Otherwise, Republican Leader Sam Smith would be indicted for his clear complicity in all the charges against Perzel, or DeWeese would be in shackles for his obvious involvement in awarding bonuses to staff, or Stetler would be among those arrested for directing caucus staff to work on campaigns, or Eachus would have been paraded in front of the media before an arraignment for using caucus resources for political purposes.

Corbett doesn't want justice. He wants headlines for his gubernatorial bid without upsetting the applecart in the Capitol.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Since obviously our brethren in the Fourth Estate need a bit of a refresher, allow us to refer to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.
Journalists should:

— Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.

Within that context, let us examine the Patriot-News' use of the term "whistleblower" to refer to immunized Republican grand jury witness William Tomaselli. We don't know what dictionary the Patriot-News uses to define whistleblower, but someone who engages in allegedly illegal conduct right up until the moment he's threatened with prosecution unless he informs on his cohorts probably doesn't qualify. There are a lot of words to describe someone like that, but "whistleblower" isn't one of them.

It's actually quite hilarious that Tomaselli thinks the Capitol might be uncomfortable for someone like him. The Capitol is full to the brim of staff who engaged in conduct Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett considers felonious and who informed on their co-workers in exchange for immunity from prosecution. They probably have a support group. We advise Tomaselli to consult Steve Webb, David Bliss, Paul Martz and Karen Steiner to see how they manage to struggle through their days. Far from reprisals, they've received promotions and raises in exchange for informing on their co-workers at Leader Bill DeWeese's behest.

Also in need of a journalistic ethics refresher is the Tribune-Review, which today repeats the blatant lie that "because there allegedly was evidence that records were being destroyed in the House Democratic Caucus, Corbett focused on that first."

As we have repeatedly pointed out, Corbett himself claimed to be investigating all four caucuses since February 2007.

But he did not encounter "evidence that records were being destroyed in the House Democratic Caucus" until August 2007, six months after he launched his Democrats-only investigation.

We're just one little blog, trying to keep the record straight. How about a little help, Capitol press corps?

Saturday, November 21, 2009


David Patti, president and chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Business Council, says he is sad. We can just imagine his tears hitting his keyboard as he typed out the missive that appeared in yesterday's Central Penn Business Journal.
"I am sad for Pennsylvania. Yet another round of indictments for public corruption has rocked the Capitol...It makes me sad....What saddens me most about public sector corruption is the taint it puts on government service and public policy." (Central Penn Business Journal 11/20/09)
After reading that, you'd think that Patti was a pure and virginal observer of Pennsylvania politics. He does make an oblique mention of having participated in "public service," but he doesn't mention exactly how he conducted himself while employed by the Commonwealth.

What Patti fails to mention is that while a staff person for the State Senate Republican caucus, he was doing the exact kind of activity that he is so sad about now:
"David Patti, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Business Council, said legislative staffers have worked on political campaigns in both parties for generations...As a staffer in the Senate Republican Policy Development and Research Office in the 1980s, Patti said he embraced the chance to join campaigns. 'It’s what we loved to do,' he said." (Patriot News 9/22/07)
Everyone who worked with Patti at that time knew him to do massive amounts of campaign work in the Capitol on state time and using taxpayer paid resources. He is lying if he contends otherwise.

We're getting a kick out of the blubbering and denials emanating from the Capitol in the wake of Corbett's grand jury presentments. Patti's editorial filled with crocodile tears is one of the best examples of this hypocrisy yet.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Last Saturday, Associated Press reporter Mark Levy put together an interesting post-Republican bonus indictment news item. Levy obtained quotes ranging from the top of the GOP caucus heap like Republican House Leader Sam Smith to the bottom of the barrel like State Representative Karen Beyer. (Associated Press 11/14/09)

Basically, Levy captured the prevailing sentiment among the Republican caucus that they were "shocked, shocked, that politics was happening in the Capitol."

Their feigned incredulousness is a lie.

We addressed how implausible Smith's cluelessness is when examined through the prism of the grand jury presentment.

Smith is a liar, but Beyer is a lying hypocrite.

Here she is in 2008 reacting to the Democratic grand jury presentment outlining how Democratic caucus resources were allegedly used against her in her 2005 special election:
"It's outrageous. The problem is, they tried to buy an election using taxpayers' money." (Tribune-Review 7/19/08)

"I couldn't keep up. I didn't have the resources to spend what she was spending." (Morning Call 7/11/08)
Boo-hoo! Except she is lying and she knows it. Corbett's grand jury presentment last week outlined how hundreds of thousands of dollars in technical and staff (through the Office of District Operations) assistance were provided to her.

After her first election and after she spent some time in Harrisburg, there is no way that Beyer (or any other Republican member who received this type of assistance) didn't have the intellectual capacity to put two and two together and figure out that the dozens of people who worked on her campaign were actually full-time House employees.

CasablancaPA received this entertaining campaign commercial that made a point about that liar Beyer in 2005 that still holds true today (be sure to turn the volume up):

Don't just take our word for it when we say that every member of the Republican caucus knew a massive political operation was being run out of the Capitol.

The grand jury presentment went into depth about how most of the House Republican Campaign Committee fundraising was conducted by staff in the Capitol. A close examination of Republican campaign finance reports shows that rank and file members were aware of this and knew where to send their campaign checks.

Note the addresses where these campaign contributions to the HRCC were sent. It doesn't get more blantant and obvious than this:

Rick Geist -- 2004 and 2007
Gordon Denlinger -- 2004
Adam Harris -- 2004
David Millard -- 2006
Katie True -- 2006 and 2007 and again in 2007. (Note that Perzel was no longer in charge in 2007!)
Nick Micozzie -- 2004 and 2005 and 2007 (Again, Perzel wasn't in charge in 2007!)

These pale in comparison to how much money and how many times 2010 Republican Lieutenant Gubernatorial candidate Tom Killion sent to the HRCC campaign operation at its Capitol building offices:

January 2004
May 2004
August 2004
October 2004
December 2004
May 2005
September 2007 (uh, wasn't Smith in charge by this time?)

We dare any of these Republican members to say they had no idea that the House Republican Campaign Committee was operating out of the Capitol using caucus resources and caucus staff. Every elected member of the House and Senate used their staff and their offices to get re-elected. Any member who says otherwise is a liar.

Don't believe us? Then ask Lt. Governor Joe Scarnati why he sent this large campaign contribution to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee to (you guessed it!) the State Capitol Building in 2006.

Or, ask Scarnati about reimbursing his campaign staff via their Capitol office in 2006.

For that matter, look below that entry for Casey Long and someone should ask Scarnati why he bought tickets to a Sam Smith campaign event by sending his contribution to Smith's district office at 527 E Mahoning Street in Punxutawny. Was Smith's district office staff organizing a campaign event at his office using state computers on state time? Hmmm.

Since the time Ben Franklin was sitting in the Speaker's Chair, members of both parties (even the Federalists and Whigs) were using their staff and offices to get re-elected. It was and is an acceptable and pervasive part of the Harrisburg culture. Even partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett uses his taxpayer funded staff and taxpayer funded phones for his campaign.

There is a tremendous amount of faux shock from both Democrats and Republicans in Harrisburg surrounding Corbett's grand jury presentments last week and in July of 2008. Don't believe them for a is just a pitiful attempt at revisionist history.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


*Attorney General Tom Corbett is looking at "the entire bonus issue," which includes payments awarded to hundreds of staffers in the House and Senate Republican and Democratic caucuses, said spokesman Kevin Harley. (Harrisburg Patriot-News, Feb. 14, 2007)

*A change in [House Republican] computer systems coincided with word that an investigation was underway ... all GOP desktop computers were replaced from July 17 to Sept. 6 last year at the Capitol and from Sept. 24 through Nov. 2 at district offices. (Harrisburg Patriot-News, Aug. 3, 2008)

*The attorney general's investigators were consulted about the changeover of computers... (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Oct. 16, 2008)

*Democratic attorney general candidate John Morganelli's charge that House Republicans probably destroyed records in the investigation of legislative bonuses is borderline slander, the state House GOP leader [Sam Smith] said Wednesday. (Ibid.)

*Agents and attorneys traveled to New Orleans and Washington, DC as part of the efforts required reconstructing the extensive amounts of pertinent evidence that was reportedly missing from the Caucus. (28th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury Presentment, page 3, footnote)

*The full extent of RIT’s work and expenditures on behalf of campaigns may never be fully realized due to the significant amount of missing emails and documents. (Ibid., page 48)

*The grand jury obtained important testimony from the operators and employees of GCR and significant evidence – missing or not produced by the Caucus – was recovered from GCR. (Ibid., page 50)

*Missing and incomplete information from within the Republican Caucus has led to the exercise of significant efforts to acquire pertinent information from sources outside of the Caucus. (Ibid., page 178)

*State Attorney General Tom Corbett, now running for governor, met with state Rep. John Perzel, of Philadelphia, at a Harrisburg hotel in October 2007. Two months later, Brian Preski, Perzel's former chief of staff, organized a campaign fundraiser for Corbett. (Philadelphia Daily News, Nov. 12, 2009)

*The Perzel meeting and Preski fundraiser came "at a time when we didn't have all the facts in front of us ... There has been very little contact with these individuals since that period of time, once we understood where everything was going with this investigation," Corbett added. (Philadelphia Daily News, Nov. 17, 2009)

Once again, we are faced with the question of whether Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett is full of bovine excrement, or simply breathtakingly, mind-numbingly incompetent.

On the one hand, there is the possibility that he was, in fact, conducting an earnest, thorough investigation of the House Republican Caucus throughout the summer and autumn of 2007, as he claims, and actually told them, "Sure, go ahead and get rid of your computers. I'm sure there's nothing on there we'll need."

It's also possible that he was eight months deep into his investigation of House Republicans when he met privately with Perzel in October 2007, and ten months deep when Preski hosted his fundraiser in December 2007, but Corbett didn't quite understand who the heck Perzel and Preski were. He didn't "have all the facts in front of" him, after all.

Or, there's the possibility that he simply was not investigating the House Republicans when all that happened, despite his claims to the contrary.

The 28th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, which indicted Perzel and Company, didn't even convene until March 2008.

The realization that indicting Republicans (or at least creating the illusion of a real investigation) would be a political necessity appears to have crept upon Corbett gradually. It wasn't until Oct. 23, 2007, the day after critical editorials appeared on Capitolwire and in The Morning Call, that the Associated Press reported that Corbett had issued subpoenas for House R records.

As the presentment makes clear, the records were long gone by then - thanks to Corbett giving House Republicans the go-ahead to ditch their computers three months prior.

The subpoenas were issued about three weeks after Corbett and his campaign manager met privately with Perzel.

It's hard to know whether the announcement represented a sincere effort to gather evidence - since Corbett knew by then the computers had been replaced - or whether it was simply intended to dampen the flickering suspicion about the evenhandedness of his investigation.

Contempt hearings "held for the purpose of forcing the caucus into compliance with subpoenas and court orders" did not take place until October 2008, a full year after the subpoenas were issued.

About two months before issuing suboenas for House Republican records, Corbett executed a search warrant on the House Democratic Caucus. The boxes of documents, which were the object of the search, had recently been moved from a basement storage room in order to create more office space. Republican documents had been stored in the basement as well; Corbett's investigators had to have learned that when they interviewed Democrats about the boxes. But Corbett never executed a search warrant for those. Instead, he waited six months and issued a subpoena for them in February 2008.

Even though Corbett immediately learned the boxes had vanished, it doesn't appear that House Republican staffers were interviewed until late July 2008, at the earliest, according to the Post-Gazette.

We're willing to believe that by then, Corbett was intent on finding a way to indict some Republicans. At some point he must have realized his gubernatorial hopes would be dashed if he didn't. We only wish we could have seen the expression on his face when he realized he was going to need all that data he allowed the House Republicans to discard the year before.

The Fourth Estate is only beginning to view Corbett with the skepticism appropriate for political candidates rather than the reverence reserved for heroes, but it may be too late ever to learn the truth. The words of Tom Knox bear repeating: "Unfortunately, Pennsylvanians will never know who was not charged or investigated as the attorney general seeks to solidify GOP support in his primary campaign for governor."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


For all the swooning over John Perzel's indictment, we feel the need to point out that partisan Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett did not indict a Speaker of the House. He did not indict a caucus leader. He didn't even indict an influential sitting member.

It's no coincidence that Corbett chose to indict another infamous but washed-up House member, while creating the illusion of drama by piling on lots of staff. Just as in the Democratic indictments, Corbett has ignored influential elected officials who are clearly culpable in the crimes he alleges others have committed.

The fact is, out of 22 people charged, only one sitting member was charged in any significant, ongoing wrongdoing. Sean Ramaley was practically an afterthought, who just happened to be running for the State Senate in a seat the Senate Republicans hoped to pick-up.

In choosing whom to indict in July of 2008, it's clear through Veon's pre-trial motions that Corbett ignored reams of evidence that incriminated active and influential Democrats, namely then-Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, then-Majority Policy Chairman Todd Eachus and Secretary of Revenue Steve Stetler.

History repeats itself with Corbett's Republican indictments. The most egregious example is how Corbett lets House Republican Leader Sam Smith slide by.

How can Corbett grant immunity (which implies she committed crimes for which she would otherwise be charged) to former full-time Smith employee Sheila Flickinger, yet not charge her boss Sam Smith?

Flickinger was a full-time "Special Projects Coordinator" for Smith in 2006, earning $58,539. She appears over and over in the Republican presentment as an insider who knew everything that was going on under Perzel's and Feese's watch at both the House Republican Campaign Committee and the Republican Caucus' Office of District Operations.

Yet, we're supposed to believe that not once did Flickinger discuss any of it with her direct boss Sam Smith?

Did Smith actually say to Corbett, "I had no idea," and did Corbett actually believe him?

This is simply not plausible.

This is just more of the same from Corbett. He is a tough guy when it comes to arresting staff people and a washed-up member or two, but when it comes to any elected official with juice you can just imagine the shrinkage going on in the collective shorts of the Office of Attorney General.

Corbett's efforts in the presentment to excuse Smith's conduct are eerily similar to his bizarre aside in the Democratic presentment, in which he admits that DeWeese did in fact, direct a state contractor to perform campaign work, but he used his campaign e-mail address to do it.

Smith and his supervision of the post-Perzel Office of District Operations:
"After issues regarding legislative bonuses paid for campaign work came to public attention in early 2007, a gradual shift in the culture in District Operations occurred, for the first time in many years placing a specific focus on a stark separation between legislative work and campaign work. For example, in the 2008 campaign cycle Ms. Uliana only was aware of one or two District Operations employees who worked on a campaign." (Page 172 of the Republican Presentment)
That's a lie and Corbett knows it.

The Office of District Operations did not skip a beat after Smith took over. A quick analysis of campaign reimbursements to the director of the office, John Hanley, and the Regional Coordinators he supervised didn't change one iota from when Perzel oversaw the office. Compare Perzel-era expenditures here with post-Perzel expenditures here.

Daphne Uliana is shameful liar who not only escapes prosecution by Corbett but continues greedily gobbling up money from the House Republican Caucus with her $5,500 per month contract with the House Republicans.

Will Smith cancel this contract now that Uliana has admitted that most of her work for the caucus was political? Remember, DeWeese never fired Angela Bertugli after she admitted she did no work for the caucus. These payments were apparently felonious when others were responsible, but they go on with impunity.

More importantly, we may never know why some people were charged and others were not.

Did Corbett have a meeting with Smith just like the one with Perzel (Philly Daily News 11/12/09), but the result of the conversation was different?

Monday, November 16, 2009


Just as we predicted, the media is slavering over Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett's "bipartisanship" now that he has indicted a single Republican legislator.

At the same time the pundits hail Corbett as a hero, they point out how much he gained politically by bringing the indictiments.

"Why, yes; it is true that I slept with the casting director. And yes, it is true that I got the part. But sleeping with the casting director had nothing to do with why I got the part."

In this country, we don't rely on politicians to pinky swear that they won't abuse the power of their offices, then sit back with our fingers crossed. Would any other politician be allowed to get away with "just trust me?"

Everyone acknowledges that indicting Perzel gives Corbett a political boost. Yet no one seems to care if he indicted Perzel in order to gain a political boost.

One of Corbett's rivals in the gubernatorial race, Tom Knox, stated the obvious:

"Unfortunately, Pennsylvanians will never know who was not charged or investigated, as the attorney general seeks to solidify GOP support in his campaign for governor."

The Philadelpia Daily News' Chris Brennan dug deep and discovered that Corbett met privately with Perzel while Perzel supposedly was under investigation, and allowed Brian Preski to host a fund-raiser for him.

Was Corbett really conducting a serious investigation as he claimed?

Why does he excuse the meeting by saying he didn't yet have all the facts?

Does that mean (contrary to every public pronouncement by Corbett prior to the meeting and fundraiser) Perzel and Preski weren't really under investigation at the time?

Did Corbett and Perzel discuss the investigations?

Did he ask for Perzel's support for Governor? ("Corbett's run for governor probably came up during the meeting, [Brian] Nutt [Corbett's campaign manager and meeting attendee] said. 'I'm sure somebody said something like: 'How are your chances? 'he added." -Daily News 11/12/09)

Did Perzel decline?

Does Perzel's indictment against have anything to do with that meeting?

How many other meetings with legislators under investigation don't we know about?

Don't ask Corbett. Just trust him.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


We are endlessly fascinated by the pure, unadulterated arse biscuits that fall from the lips of Tom Corbett and his lackeys. Is it pathological? Can they simply not help themselves?

Here's a recent whopper from Senior Deputy Attorney General K. Kenneth Brown II:

“A felony is a felony, and if it is a felony, you get cuffed,” Brown said. “The law makes no distinction for white collar crimes, and neither do we.”

As his quote was preceded by the description of Brett Feese freely walking to and fro unencumbered by handcuffs, we hardly need elaborate.

But we will. Jeff Foreman, charged with 25 felonies, was never handcuffed. Scott Brubaker, charged with 22 felonies, was never handcuffed. Jennifer Brubaker, charged with 17 felonies, was never handcuffed.

And while it may seem a petty detail, the Republican defendants were handcuffed with their wrists in front, rather than behind their backs as the Democrats were. One Democratic defendant reports that he was originally cuffed in front, but a supervisor who spotted him angrily berated the agent handling his arrest: "What are you doing? Don't you remember how we said we were going to handle this?" He was marched back into the police station and recuffed, hands behind his back, before being paraded before the media.

No distinctions, our ass.

Here's another gem:
Democrats arranged bonuses and "used labor ... The Republicans, under Perzel, used technology."

Corbett's own press release called the House Republican's department of District Operations "a subsidiary of the House Republican Campaign Committee."
"The grand jury found that most of the District Operations employees hired during this time were hired because of their campaign and or fundraising skills. For the majority of the new hires, who worked out of their homes, it was clearly understood that as part of their legislative job that they would work on campaigns."

Sounds like labor to us. Does he even know what he's saying?

One of our favorite examples of blatant mendacity is Corbett's apparent confusion over his cell phones.

In a story that aired September 23 on ABC27 News in Harrisburg, Corbett said he carries two cell phones:

"He says he has a separate BlackBerry for his campaign work and one for his 'work' work. Separation of government and campaigning is big with this attorney general."

But when ABC27 News obtained cell phone bills showing hundreds of phone calls between OAG staff and Corbett's campaign cell and the campaign's other cell phones, including his campaign manager's, he changed his story:

"It's easier to keep it on one that the taxpayers are not paying for. That's the most important thing: taxpayers aren't paying for this. Either the campaign or myself are paying for this."

He didn't explain what state business his campaign manager might have been discussing with his OAG stafff (and the staffs of Republican legislators).

He deviated even further from his original story at Thursday's press conference when AP reporter Mark Scolforo asked him about the calls, claiming he uses his "personal" cell phone for both state and campaign business, and he doesn't even know the number of his state-issued cell phone.

If that's true, why make up a story about using two different phones? Why didn't he just say that in the first place?

Or is he just making it up as he goes along?

Friday, November 13, 2009


Ever hear about the guy who murdered his parents then asked the court for leniency because he's an orphan?

That's how Tom Corbett sounded when he whined that his boffo-stupendo investigation of the House Republicans took so everlastingly long because those meanies went and hid all their evidence.

Maybe if he'd started investigating them back when he said he started investigating them, they wouldn't have had a chance to get all their ducks in a row - just as everyone in Harrisburg except apparently the crack investigators at the OAG predicted they would do.

Ever throw something away, then realize later that it was actually more valuable than you thought and you're gonna need it, and then you have to go outside and dig through the Dumpster to find it? Yeah, it's kind of like that for Corbett.

But it wasn't just the boxes that Corbett waited six months to ask pretty please that foiled his crack investigative team. After all, Brett Feese wrote Corbett a sweet little note: "Deer Tom, I didunt doo nuthin. Luv, Brett." Who wouldn't be fooled?

Corbett claims his investigation was stymied by notes Feese directed his assistant to fabricate, notes intended to mislead Corbett's agents.

Notes that were turned over to Corbett in December of 2008.

Got that? The reason why Corbett's investigation took so long is because of the diabolically deceptive notes that were turned over twenty-two months after the investigation supposedly began. That, and some boxes he waited six months to subpoena.

You almost have to feel sorry for a guy who's up against this mastermind-level obfuscation.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


The Philadelphia Daily News today reports that Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett and his taxpayer-funded campaign manager met privately with Rep. John Perzel, while Perzel allegedly was under investigation, and Perzel's former chief of staff, Brian Preski, organized a fund raiser for Corbett two months later.

Corbett is expected to announce indictments of both Perzel and Preski later today.

Since when was it part of Perzel's "official duties" to brief the Attorney General about "computer software that could be used to track registered sex offenders?"

"Hello, Attorney General's Office. How may I help you?"

"Hi, I'm calling from Representative John Perzel's office. We'd like to meet with Attorney General Tom Corbett to tell him about some exciting new software that can help track registered sex offenders."

"John Perzel? Aren't you currently under investigation by our office?"

"Yepper! How's October 2 at the Hilton?"

"Sounds good. Don't bring your lawyer. See you then."

Wonder if the career prosecutors on whom Corbett relies to keep him honest were aware of the meeting?

The only question we have about Preski's fund raiser for Corbett is whether Preski raised enough to keep from getting indicted.

Guess we'll find out later today!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Oh, to be a fly on the wall during House Minority Policy Chairman Stan Saylor's briefing yesterday for freshmen.

Whatever could he have been telling them?

But first, this: Corbett's crack legal team loses again. Hmm.

Back to the House Republican Caucus.

According to the Tribune-Review, Saylor "invited freshmen into his office to help them prepare for an onslaught of questions from the media and constituents that might surface" if former Speaker John Perzel is indicted as has been widely speculated.

Questions? We have a few.

The Tribune-Review story notes that the freshmen weren't in the legislature during the period Corbett supposedly is investigating. But several of them benefited directly from Perzel's skullduggery. Several took his campaign contributions.

We wonder if Saylor invoked the names of Vince Biancucci, Dan Surra, Chris King and Frank Andrews Shimkus. They, like our friendly Republican freshman (probably), weren't implicated in the Bonusgate scandal. But association with the principal defendant lost them their re-elections all the same. Even a few challengers who obviously weren't in the legislature during the during the period Corbett investigated - just like our friendly Republican freshmen! - slipped and fell in the Bonusgate puddle.

Corbett is unlikely to try to stage an extravaganza show hearing for the benefit of their opponents just before the election, as he did in 2008. But what might a clever political operative make of the $21,000 Frank Farry took from Perzel?

Will the $23,000 Nick Miccareli took from Perzel come back to haunt him?

Will they give the money back?

We're most curious about the illegal and dishonest robo-calls that Sheryl DeLozier believes Perzel bought for her campaign.

DeLozier's race was one of at least three where such robo-calls were employed against candidates who either voted against Perzel for Speaker or publicly declared they would not vote for Perzel for leadership.

Are the calls part of Corbett's super-badass shocking-beyond-words prosecution of biblical proportions?

So many questions!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


What do Mike Veon and John Perzel have in common?

So far, it's not criminal charges, though that may change within days.

Despite the fact that they generally operated from opposite ends of the political spectrum, Veon and Perzel actually share some very important similarities - similarities that have not been lost on Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett.

At one time, each was among the most influential legislators in Harrisburg. Each generated statewide controversy and outrage over the 2005 pay raise vote - Veon when he refused to recant his vote, and Perzel when he asserted (absurdly) that farm workers who milk cows earned more than state legislators.

But the most important similarity for Corbett is that by the time Corbett trained his prosecutorial guns on them, they were virtually without influence. Veon was out of the legislature, and Perzel would have been if not for the investigation.

Veon lost his reelection in 2006 and was a private citizen without a vote in the legislature when Corbett launched his Democrats-only investigation in early 2007. Perzel was widely rumored to be considering retirement after his failed attempt to recapture the Speaker's chair. According to several sources, the only reason he decided to stay was the perceived protection of the caucus' high-priced, taxpayer-funded lawyers.

If Charlie Thompson's Patriot-News story - and the most persistent Capitol rumors - are true, Corbett has found a way to generate maximum publicity for an investigation that has put nary a dent in the Harrisburg power structure. Not a single member of House leadership has been touched. The guy who controlled the purse strings in the Democratic caucus -- Bill DeWeese -- wasn't even subpoenaed, much less indicted.

Will the torch-bearing public be satisfied with the heads of the pay-raise poster boys, and fail to notice - as Corbett hopes - that not a single major player was even inconvenienced?

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Our interest has been piqued by reports that partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett has put a grand jury to work looking into contracting and patronage practices at the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Unsurprisingly, the only reported targets of this grand jury have been Democrats.

The Post-Gazette reports that Corbett has Democratic Congressman and Philadelphia Democratic Party Chair Bob Brady his is sights:
"The complaint also declares that when members of Teamster Local 250, which represents turnpike employees in the western half of the state, ceased donating money to the Philadelphia Democratic Committee, a turnpike manager named Melvin Shelton, 'instructed plaintiff to deny all grievances brought on behalf of employees represented by Local 250.' Mr. Kovac's complaint also says he told turnpike Executive Director Joseph Brimmeier that he believed Mr. Shelton, in fact, did little work for the commission 'but rather, worked to further the interests of Congressman [Robert] Brady, the Philadelphia Democratic Committee and Teamsters Local No. 77.'" (Post Gazette 10/30/2009)
And, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has been tipped off that Democratic State Representative Tony DeLuca could be in hot water with the grand jury:
"Earlier this year, Peggy Denham, who works for the state as a municipal auditor, said she testified that Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills, helped his daughter Deborah Brinker get a job with the Turnpike Commission, and arranged jobs for other relatives with public agencies...According to Denham, DeLuca arranged for Brinker to work for the turnpike by persuading Penn Hills council to hire Bonnie Brimmeier as its solicitor. She is the sister of Joe Brimmeier, the commission's executive director." (Tribune Review 10/30/09)
Yet, Corbett refuses to use his grand jury to investigate allegedly shoddy work and fleecing of the Turnpike by the construction contractors Allan C. Myers, Inc. Instead, the FBI is handling the investigation. (Inquirer 10/31/09)

Why would Corbett ignore malfeasance by a Pennsylvania contractor who is allegedly ripping-off the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the tune of tens of millions of dollars?

It could be because the owner of Allan C. Myers, Inc. is a major -- no, make that massive -- Republican campaign contributor.

Not only has A. Ross Myers contributed $15,000 directly to Corbett in just the last two years (we're still waiting to see what he's given to Corbett in 2009), but he's also sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican interests in every corner of the state since 2004:

$300,000 to Pennsylvania Future Fund (Bob Asher's PAC)
$27,848 to Friends of Joe Scarnati
$1,000 to Friends of Bob Mensch
$3,250 to Lloyd Smucker for Senate 5/20/09
$8,250 to Friends for Jay Moyer
$1,000 to Friends of Sheryl DeLozier
$45,000 to Friends of John Perzel
$2,000 to Friends of Dave Reed
$8,500 to Friends of Kate Harper
$1,000 to Friends of Tom Ellis
$52,500 to Friends of Rob Wonderling
$15,500 to Friends of Bruce Castor
$6,000 to Friends of Jim Matthews
$100,000 to Lynn Swann for Governor
$2,500 to Friends of Senator Jubelirer
$2,500 to Friends of Senator Brightbill
$35,000 to House Republican Campaign Committee
$1,000 to John Rafferty for Senate
$1,000 to Bob Godshall for Legislature

After seeing this list of GOP largess, it makes sense that Corbett would ignore shennanigans by this Republican donor and instead pursue Congressman Brady and Rep. DeLuca.

It doesn't end at punting an investigation of Allan A. Myers to the Feds.

Corbett has definitively shown that his investigation of the Turnpike isn't going to lead to any headaches for Republicans by how his gubernatorial campaign is raising money.

Just this week, John Micek with the Morning Call reported that a sponsor of a high-dollar Corbett fundraising event in Philadelphia was Timothy J. Carson...the Vice-Chairman of the Turnpike and major Republican poo-bah. (Capitol Ideas 11/6/2009)

Just how serious a probe of the Turnpike is Corbett conducting if he is rubbing elbows (connected to fists full of campaign cash) with one of the very persons he is supposedly investigating?

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Tracie Mauriello with the Post-Gazette breaks the news that former Republican State Representative and former chair of the House Republican Campaign Committee Brett Feese resigned his position as House Republican Chief Counsel today. Mauriello also reports that Feese was the recipient of one of Corbett's target letters sent to Republicans in recent weeks.

Readers of CasablancaPA will remember that Feese appeared to spend a tremendous amount of time working on his private practice...even though he was the full-time House Republican Caucus Chief Counsel.

Rumors are also rampant that Al Bowman, longtime House Republican staff person and campaign operative, has been forced out of the caucus. Those in the Capitol will remember that Bowman was the taxpayer funded political mouthpiece for the HRCC in 2008.

It is ironic to read this quote from Bowman regarding state house elections last year:
"In terms of control of the state House, it really comes down to Bonsugate vs.Obama's popularity. All politics are still local, and while Barack is claiming he will usher in a new day as President, local state House Democrats are still being chased by the ghosts of their own corruption and inaction." (Inquirer 10/31/08)
After that quote, we can only hope that karma catches up to Bowman...of course, Corbett hasn't arrested anyone yet.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


In an editorial today, the publisher of the Tri-County Courier-Express, Denny Bonavita, continues to point out the hypocrisy of partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett:
"Attorney General Tom Corbett is prosecuting people - so far, only Democrats - for, he claims, abusing their state-paid positions for political purposes.

But Corbett himself, now a candidate for governor in 2010, is allowing his staff members to take 'leaves of absence' to work on his campaign.

Other incumbents, Republicans and Democrats, have done the same thing, and will do it again next year.


Because we voters are stupid enough to allow them to get away with it...

We wonder how Corbett can continue the 'leaves of absence' practice with a straight face while prosecuting Democrats for abusing the system financially when he - and other incumbents - are egregiously abusing the system morally with this 'leaves of
absence' charade."
We wholeheartedly agree with Bonavita.

Not only does Corbett conduct his campaign no differently than those he is prosecuting with his "leaves of absense charade" but there is no separation of his political and official offices. Corbett campaign staff is parked at his OAG offices at the taxpayer expense and it has been documented that hundreds and hundreds of calls are made between the Corbett campaign and his official offices during the work day.

What would someone with subpoena power find at Corbett's Office of Attorney General if they slapped supoenas for documents and staff testimony on Corbett as aggressively as Corbett did with the House Democrats?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Look, guys. It's obvious you're backing Tom Corbett for Governor. And it's only natural you'd want to defend your boy.

But today's ludicrous rationalization for his refusal to resign is really beyond the pale.

As informed Pennsylvanians are well aware, when a governor appoints a replacement for a departing elected official, he always appoints a replacement of the same party who agrees not to run in the next election. Besides, there's not a chance in hell the Republican-controlled Senate would confirm a Democrat if he even tried.

So, no, Tribune-Review. Tom Corbett isn't afraid to resign because scary Ed Rendell might appoint a Democratic successor. In fact, Corbett's been pretty friendly to Rendell's administration, inexplicably allowing one cabinet secretary to ignore a subpoena and looking the other way on another cabinet member who reportedly threatened a witness.

Corbett won't resign because he can't give up the spotlight. It's a risk, because if the Bonusgate prosecutions crash and burn, he won't be able to shift the blame (although he'll probably try).