Sunday, December 13, 2009
The pundits agree that Sean Ramaley's aquittal is a blow to Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett's campaign.
When criminal prosecutions carry this much political weight, it's kind of a hint that they're - y'know - political. If there are crimes to be prosecuted, it seems like a no-brainer that they should be prosecuted by someone who doesn't have quite so much personally to gain or lose by their outcomes.
But as long as everyone wants to pretend that criminal prosecutions are just another tool in the political toolbox, like robocalls and yard signs, let's get a few things straight:
Even if one concedes that plea bargains count as "wins," Corbett's score isn't 5-1, it's more like 5-2.5. That is, if charges against Rachel Manzo are to be withdrawn in exchange for her husband's guilty plea, as expected. It's hard to imagine that Corbett plans to prosecute Todd Eachus without the testimony of his top aide, but it's also hard to believe he wouldn't have a deal with Rachel locked down before proceeding with Eachus' indictment. On the third hand, it's even harder to believe Mike Manzo would have agreed to such an absurd plea unless withdrawal of his wife's charges were thrown into the bargain. So, we're tentatively awarding Corbett a loss until further notice.
We're also deducting a half-point for the dismissal of all charges related to the Beaver Initiative for Growth. If Corbett hadn't sought a do-over in front of a politically-friendly Republican magistrate, BIG would be a solid loss - and may yet be. Even if Corbett somehow manages convictions in the teetering case, we're afraid he'll never gain full points because he failed to refile all the original charges.
We don't suppose it's worthwhile to point out that these "points" represent actual human beings, is it? Yeah, we figured not.
Meanwhile, what's with Corbett's excuse that his own case was "weak?" That's a defense? Close scrutiny might beg the question: if it was a weak case, why'd you bring it? Then again, anyone paying attention already knows: Ramaley was poised to win a seat in the state senate. The seat went to a Republican after Ramaley withdrew. The case was a success long before the jury deliberated.
Is there no limit to the political machinations Pennsylvania will tolerate from its top law enforcement officer?