Sunday, November 8, 2009
THE PAY-RAISE POSTER BOYS
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?