Tuesday, March 31, 2009


"T.J. Rooney, chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, has likened the Bonusgate probe to "an Alberto Gonzales-like investigation," a reference to the former U.S. attorney general, saying Corbett has ignored that "red flags exist on his side of the field." "

Philadelphia Inquirer, March 30, 2009

A Captain Renault post: There is growing criticism of the partisanship and quality of AG Corbett's Bonusgate investigation. The Philadelphia Inquirer published a story on March 30 that included comments from a wide spectrum of people who are questioning Corbett's ability and motives as he now begins his third year of investigating Bonusgate. Corbett has insisted from the start of the investigation that he is investigating all 4 caucuses in the legislature but after two years he has only indicted 12 Democrats and not a single Republican. It's just in the last few months of the two year effort that there have been published reports that Corbett and his staff are scrutinizing Republicans in the State House. There have been no reports of any Corbett investigation of the Senate Republicans despite the fact that the Senate Republicans issued some of the largest bonuses in 2006 to staff who were known to be very politically active.

The March 30 Inquirer article even quoted gadfly Harrisburg political activist Gene Stilp firing a warning shot at Corbett and his one sided investigation.

"If he only indicts more Democrats and no Republicans, there will be a large outcry," said Harrisburg activist Gene Stilp, who was the first to call for an investigation into the bonuses. "And his running for governor puts him under another kind of pressure: He can't be seen as doing this for political gain."

We have some bad news for Gene Stilp. It's too late. Corbett is already seen by many as using the Bonusgate investigation for his own political gain. The Philadelphia Inquirer published a very critical editorial recently which we posted here that called Corbett's investigation "painfully slow" and "plodding". But the most damning part of the editorial was this:

"Republican Corbett says more charges are coming. He obviously hopes to use the drawn-out probe as a springboard into the governor's office in 2010."

More newspapers are beginning to question Corbett's motives and motivation. The Lebanon Daily News published an editorial on March 25 that raised serious questions about Corbett's political motives as the long investigation continues and now coincides with Corbett's campaign for Governor. From the LDN:

"Unfortunately, even this investigation has raised questions about, if not corruption then certainly politicking.

Attorney General Tom Corbett, a Republican whose office is charged with these investigations, has been questioned about the timing of the original indictments — that they involved Democrats and that they occurred before a legislative election.

And there are also questions about the continuing saga that is the investigation of the other caucuses. Corbett is near certain to be a candidate for the soon-to-be-open governor’s seat, and if Pennsylvania holds serve as it has in the recent past, it’s the Republicans’ turn to get the highest office in the commonwealth.

So, will these remaining investigations be used to help burnish Corbett’s image as a law-and-order guy, which served former Gov. Richard Thornburgh well when he took office amid the fallout of previous corruption scandals.

Or is it all just a function of the need to proceed slowly with criminal/political investigations?

Perception serves as reality, and it will be difficult to convince some that there’s nothing more at work here than the slow wheels of justice.

Many will see it as Pennsylvania politics as usual. Shouldn’t we all be a little tired of that by now?"

The chorus gets louder...more to come...

Monday, March 30, 2009



House Democrats:

Republicans are always the best at shrill histrionics, so it isn’t any surprise that two Pennsylvania Republican state legislators would have their panties in a twist over Delta Development’s involvement with partisan Attorney General Tom Corbett’s latest attack on Mike Veon.

Here is State Rep. Mario Civera in Saturday’s Patriot:

“Civera, in a letter to his Republican colleagues, urged them to halt their dealings with Delta until the firm's relationship with the Democratic caucus is clarified…’I never imagined it would be possible the Democratic caucus would be sending a lobbyist to talk to me on a legislative issue,’ Civera said in the letter.” (“GOP leaders seek Delta boycott” Patriot News, 3/12/09)

The GOP is great at being shrill, but it is even better at being hypocritical.

You see, in 1996, the House Republican Caucus hired Mark Zabierek, who was at the time a prominent Pittsburgh lobbyist, to lobby house members. He was paid more than $20,000 to curry favor with House Democrats on the Republican Caucus’ workers’ compensation legislation.

The House Republican spokesman at the time said, “[Zabierek] has been very helpful and very useful, and his relationship was open and public. He has been a valuable link for Mr. Perzel in understanding issues important to Western Pennsylvania.” (“Lobbyist’s hiring is questioned” Post Gazette, 6/27/96)

Civera wasn’t whining then, so why now?

Much more troubling than the rank hypocrisy from Civera is the hatchet job Corbett is deliberately conducting on Delta Development.

Everyone in Harrisburg knows Delta Development to be a well-respected lobbying and consulting firm. But, that hasn’t stopped Corbett from slamming Delta for allegedly unethical practices (curiously, without bringing charges against anyone associated with Delta.)

Corbett went so far as to pull the strings on his marionette Mike Manzo to have him testify to the Grand Jury that Delta received its contracts because Delta is “a Democratic firm who gives a lot of money to Democratic candidates.” (Patriot News, 3/28/09)

The end result a perfectly partisan blackball of Delta Development in the Pennsylvania legislature. Most notably with the Republican controlled State Senate. Here is Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi on Saturday:

“One day after the House Democratic caucus canceled a contract with Delta Development Group, based in Mechanicsburg, Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi ordered members of his party to steer clear of Delta lobbyists. ‘I am suspending any contact between any representative of Delta Development and my office until Delta provides an adequate explanation of the nature and extent of its relationship with the House Democratic caucus,’ Pileggi said Friday.” (“Hempfield has second thoughts on lobbyist” Tribune Review, 3/28/09)

This partisan blackballing of Delta Development isn’t happening in a vacuum. A firm near and dear to Republicans stands to gain enormously from Delta’s demise.

Ask anyone in Harrisburg who is Delta’s main competitor in the economic development field and the answer you’ll get is McCullough Consulting Group.

Here are examples of McCullough Consulting’s work in Frackville, Susquehanna Township, Coopersburg, Spring Township, Lititz, Mechanicsburg and Warwick. Here in Lower Paxton you can see that Delta and McCullough are in direct competition.

McCullough Consulting is headed by Sam McCullough, former DCED Secretary under Republican Tom Ridge. It is also a joint venture with the Republican lobbying firm of Stevens & Lee. Check it out for yourself here.

Corbett considers Delta a “Democratic” firm because since 2000 it has given $88,900 to Democrats and $77,290 to Republicans. (“House Dems abruptly cancel deal with consultant Delta Development” Tribune Review, 3/27/08)

Using that standard, it is clear that Stevens & Lee and McCullough Consulting is a Republican firm because just since 2004 its PAC “Citizens for a Better Commonwealth” contributed $259,250 to Republicans and $170,250 to Democrats. Corbett received nearly $10,000 directly. Check it out for yourself here. (Data from PA Department of State campaign finance records)

It is no accident that Delta Development is being dragged through the mud by Corbett and subsequently being blackballed by Republicans. Just follow the money.

This is all par for the course for partisan Republican Tom Corbett. In the past, he’s looked the other way and stacked the deck for his political friends -- most notably in York and Bedford counties.

There is also the on-going lawsuit against Corbett that appears to show some serious pay to play within the Attorney General’s Financial Enforcement Section. See it for yourself here.

And, just last week, he completely ignored the rank hypocrisy of Sandra Schultz-Newman using her judicial parking permit illegally even though his taxpayer-funded political hack Brian Nutt thought he scored the political coup of the century when John Morganelli was caught doing the exact same thing last year. (“Vigilant Corbett aides slam opponent on parking” Patriot News, 8/27/08) Of course, Corbett is keeping her on his gubernatorial campaign exploratory committee.

This wheeling-and-dealing with justice isn’t confined to Republicans.

There seems to be some kind of deal between Corbett and DeWeese. How else do you explain how DeWeese hasn’t been charged and is traipsing around the caucus saying “the investigation of Democrats is over” and “I will not be charged.”

Corbett’s entire bonusgate investigation is seriously compromised by partisanship, secret deals and just plain incompetence.

Perhaps House Majority Leader Todd Eachus is on to something when he says Corbett should consider stepping aside as Attorney General so he can run his campaign for Governor. (“House leader questions AG’s candidacy” Patriot News, 3/30/09)

At the very least, you need to demand Corbett cease his partisan and willfully destructive charade of an investigation.

Thursday, March 26, 2009



House Democrats:

In the wake of yesterday’s news regarding partisan Republican Attorney General and candidate for Governor Attorney General Tom Corbett’s announcement of charges against Mike Veon, I’m not going to dwell on the obvious question of when will he ever follow through with his promises to bring charges against Republicans related to bonusgate and campaigning on state time using state resources.

Instead, I thought I’d point out a very interesting part of yesterday’s gubernatorial campaign inspired dog and pony show.Partisan Republican Corbett made it a point to say that he was examining all four legislative caucuses and their members’ involvement with non-profit groups.

Here he is yesterday in an Associated Press item:

’That indicates to me that the Legislature and everyone needs to take a look at how moneys ... are being spent and how it's being directed,’ Corbett said at a Pittsburgh news conference where he announced the charges against Veon. Corbett's continuing investigation into the Beaver Initiative for Growth , Veon's nonprofit, nicknamed BIG , includes a look at how taxpayers' money moves through the state budget and into the bank accounts of nonprofit groups. The inquiry also will scrutinize grant money given to nonprofit groups headed up by other legislators, although Corbett, a Republican, did not identify any.”

In fact, if you saw the news conference live you would have heard Corbett pointedly ask for anyone who has any information about malfeasance by legislators in relation to non-profit entities to come forward with information so he could investigate.

So, here are five formerly publicized situations for Republican gubernatorial candidate Corbett to have his investigators check out.

#5 -- State Representative Nick Micozzie and Clifton Heights Economic Corporation.

Micozzie didn’t like how Clifton Heights borough council is planning to use the nearly $1 million dollars he directed its way, so he creates his own non-profit that the money is shifted into. According to the Delaware County Times, serious shenanigans transpired with the official record of the Clifton Heights council meeting minutes, “Some council members now allege minutes were interpreted wrong, altered or even deleted.” (“Questions surround grant in Clifton Heights” Delco Times, 7/26/08) In fact, this situation is so egregiously in violation of the State House of Representatives new Rule 14 that complaints were brought to its ethics committee. See them here and here.

#4 -- Former State Representative Gene McGill and Historic Property Preservation Institute.

McGill got his rent paid for by a non-profit he created and funded with state grants. The Intelligencer put it best in one of its editorials, “McGill has had a cheap place to stay. The problem is that, as a state legislator, McGill has had certain advantages the average person doesn't when trying to strike the same kind of deal.” (“Sweat equity or sweet deal?” Doylestown Intelligencer, 6/28/06)

#3 -- State Representative John Perzel and Mayfair Community Development Corporation.

The amount of money Perzel shoveled into this group -- nearly $9 million by April of 2006 -- rivals the amounts Veon obtained for BIG. If Corbett would spend even a fraction of the amount of time he expended investigating Veon, he’d find lots of interesting and illegal stuff. (“Six lawmakers funnel $29 million to pet non-profits” Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 4/24/06)

#2 -- State Representative John Perzel and 8001 Torresdale Corporation.

John Perzel’s family personally profited to the tune of $100,000 through a sweetheart land deal between a non-profit controlled by his family and the New Foundations Charter School controlled by his wife. Even more money may be involved when you factor in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent the charter was paying to the non-profit. (“Charter school agrees to rules about ethics” Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/19/04) Perzel was so incensed over the auditing of his wife’s pet project and family ATM that he used his influence to shut down any similar audits in the future. (“Charter oversight hobbled in 2005” Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/2/08)

#1 -- Former United States Senator Rick Santorum and Operation Good Neighbor.

While Santorum wasn’t a state legislator, he was the head of a non-profit incorporated in Pennsylvania that closely mirrored what Corbett alleges Veon to have done with BIG. There was a shockingly low ratio of giving to overhead. (“Sen. Santorum’s home mortgage foundation outlays raise questions” Philadelphia Daily News, 2/21/06) There was a completely unacceptable blending of the non-profit operations with his legislative and political operations. (“Santorum’s Operation Good Neighbor is low on giving, high on fees” Associated Press, 2/25/06) And, there was plenty of evidence of government contracts being awarded to friends of the non-profit and Santorum’s political causes and personal campaign. (“Big donor to Rick’s charity was seeking federal aid” Philadelphia Daily News, 3/2/06; “Group tied to Santorum campaign gets $250,000 grant” Philadelphia Daily News, 3/24/06)

Those are just five well-documented instances of public officials abusing their ability to direct funds to and from non-profits for their personal and political benefit.

Don’t get your hopes up that partisan Republican Tom Corbett will investigate any of these anytime soon, if ever.

There are already signs that Corbett is still interested in using the grand jurys to investigate only Democrats.

It isn’t a coincidence that the Pittsburgh grand jury is investigating Democratic state Representative Tony DeLuca and his involvement with Penn Hills municipal politics. (“Penn Hills lawmaker scrutinized by grand jury” Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 3/24/09)

Don’t think your former collegue and former Penn Hills city manager, Terry Van Horne, who testified against Veon under a grant of immunity didn’t have something to do with the grand jury having a sudden interest in DeLuca’s activities. There may be a lot more behind Van Horne being recently fired by DeLuca’s son, the mayor of Penn Hills. (“Penn Hills outs manager, replaces him” Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 2/3/09)

Who else among you could be within Corbett’s sights? Nearly 200 Democratic caucus staff were interviewed and/or forced to testify in front of the grand jury.

Did any of them implicate you in any way?

Will this latest news item from Pittsburgh TV News 4 that features your colleagues Ted Harhai, Nick Kotik and Tim Mahoney lead to future problems for any of the three of them?

What is in that file Bill DeWeese and Todd Eachus are fighting over? What does DeWeese have on you?

More importantly, what does partisan Republican prosecutor Corbett have on you that has been provided to him by DeWeese?

What is going on between DeWeese and Corbett? What type of arrangement is there where DeWeese who is so clearly culpable in the bonusgate affair is not indicted?

You need to fight back! You need to stop Corbett from continuing this charade of an investigation.

Demand balance!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


A Captain Renault post: A published report today in the Tribune Review reveals that Attorney General and Space Cadet Tom Corbett has yet another State House Democrat under investigation by one of his grand juries. The Tribune Review reports that Democrat Rep. Tony Deluca of Penn Hills is being investigated by Corbett and various Penn Hills local officials and Boro employees have testified in front of a Pittsburgh based grand jury regarding alleged activities that, according to one witness, "could be construed as misuse of public office."

It's just another day in the office for Corbett. Another day, and another Democrat is under investigation. In the meantime, Corbett has yet to indict a single Republican in the Bonusgate investigation that has now gone on for at least two years. Corbett professes publicly to be "investigating all 4 caucuses" in the legislature. But from a review of the public record and any casual effort to listen to the chatter in the state Capitol, it's clear that Corbett is stalling a serious investigation of the State House Republicans and hasn't even begun a casual review of the activities of the Senate Republicans -- despite the fact the Senate Republicans gave out some of the largest bonuses to known political operatives. Keep in mind that at the current pace, the Bonusgate investigation will continue well past the election in 2010 -- the very election in which Tom Corbett plans to run for Governor. It's coincidental of course. It's also wrong, dangerous, and abuse of the justice system by a prosecutor for his own political gain.

So despite the fact that to date Corbett has devoted very limited time and resources to investigating the Republicans in the legislature over the last two years, he finds the time, the resources, and a grand jury that will investigate another Democrat -- now.

Monday, March 23, 2009


A Captain Renault post: Despite growing criticism in the press and on talk radio stations, Tom Corbett told KYW radio today that there will be no indictments or arrests in the Bonusgate investigation for at least the next 30 days--or longer. Corbett made the announcement about the continued delay in the Bonusgate investigation while doing his usual strip tease about some other corruption investigation he plans on announcing within a few days.

The Bonusgate investigation has been going of for two years now and Republican Corbett has to date has indicted former members and staff of only House Democrat Caucus. There is growing criticism of the pace and quality of Corbett's investigation. Corbett continues to hint (or wink) that more indictments are coming and he is still "investigating all 4 caucuses" including the Republicans in the House and the Senate. More and more people are skeptical that Corbett intends to actually indict any Republicans at all.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote an editorial last week that criticized Corbett's Bonusgate investigation as "painfully slow" and "plodding". This is the first Inquirer editorial that directly and clearly criticized Corbett for how he is handling this investigation and we posted a story on it here last week.

The Inquirer editorial went further than just criticising Corbett on the pace of the investigation by stating that Corbett is using Bonusgate for his own political gain (No surprise to us -- we have been trying to make that point to all of the editorial boards in the state for months).

From the Inquirer:
"Republican Corbett says more charges are coming. He obviously hopes to use the drawn-out probe as a springboard into the governor's office in 2010."

This is a powerful indictment (pun intended) of Tom Corbett and his politicized investigation of the state legislature. With Corbett's announcement today that any additional Bonusgate indictments are are 30 days away at best, we hope more editorial writers, reporters, and PA citizens will hold Corbett accountable for bringing partisan and personal politics into the justice system.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


A Captain Renault post: As new and serious questions arise every day about Bill DeWeese and the quality and motives of AG Corbett's Bonusgate investigation, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an editorial today that for the first time took some critical shots at Corbett and his investigation. Corbett's investigation is coming under increased scrutiny and criticism after going on for two long years and as Corbett announces his intention to run for Governor in 2010.

Sure, the editorial skewers DeWeese and the other leaders and members of the House Democrat Caucus -- calling them a "circular firing squad" and saying that DeWeese's position in the legal battle with Eachus is "ludicrous". But we know they always pound on the House Democrats and DeWeese. DeWeese gives the editorial writers in the state enough material in any one given week to last them all year.

What's noticeable about this Inquirer Editorial is that they criticize Corbett for his Bonusgate investigation for the first time since it started.

"Attorney General Tom Corbett launched a painfully slow investigation, which so far has resulted in charges against 12 current and former House Democratic officials."

"Corbett's probe is plodding into its second year; meanwhile the complex case of financier Bernard Madoff, who stole about $65 billion, took only three months to prosecute."

Describing the Bonusgate investigation as "painfully slow" and "plodding" is being easy on Corbett. This investigation is now two years old and published reports indicate that Corbett's investigation seems to now be focusing on the House Republicans. Corbett has promised to investigate all 4 caucuses. There has been no indication whatsoever that Corbett and his team have spent any time to date investigating the Senate Republicans. The Senate Republicans gave out some of the biggest bonuses to staff members who were widely known to be very active in Republican politics. At the current pace it will take more than two more years for Corbett to "complete" his investigation of all 4 caucuses.

The most damning part of today's Inquirer editorial? This:

"Republican Corbett says more charges are coming. He obviously hopes to use the drawn-out probe as a springboard into the governor's office in 2010."

Finally, a newspaper editorial in the main stream media in this state says that Corbett is using the Bonusgate investigation for his own political gain. This is a very serious matter. There is no other way to read these two sentences in this editorial. The editors even use the term "obviously" to describe Corbett's political motivations in the Bonusgate probe. The idea that a criminal prosecutor would use a criminal investigation and criminal prosecutions for his own political gain or for partisans reasons is frightening to most people in Pennsylvania.

We hope to see a stronger and more complete Inquirer editorial about Corbett on this specific and serious allegation of a politically motivated investigation. There should be an outcry from more editorialists, the self-proclaimed good government groups, political party leaders in both parties, other prosecutors, and legal and constitutional experts in our state. Where are they?

Of course we here at CasablancaPA, and many others all over the state, have "obviously" known for a long time that Corbett's Bonusgate investigation is corrupted and infested with politics and clear political motivations. We hope this Inquirer editorial does not go unnoticed and we hope the scrutiny increases on Corbett and his political investigation.


A Captain Renault post: An astute and observant reader of this blog saw my earlier post today and emailed this John Cole editorial cartoon to me. I had never seen it before and (as you can imagine) it's now my favorite Cole cartoon. We will find a way to feature it here on the CasablancaPA blog site.

Cole is the editorial cartoonist for the Times-Tribune and you can find his work on his blog site.


A Captain Renault post: John Cole, the editorial cartoonist for the Times-Tribune published an on target cartoon today reflecting all of the recent stories implicating Bill DeWeese in the Bonusgate scandal. Check out the cartoon on Cole's Opinion Blog here.

Everyday more people are raising serious questions about AG Corbett's Bonusgate investigation. As more implicating evidence enters the public realm of DeWeese's clear involvement in many aspects of Bonusgate, more people, reporters, and even Republican political operatives are wondering if DeWeese and Corbett made some secret deal. No one, and I mean no one, that I have talked with in the State Capitol and in the PA political community over the last 6 months believes the absurd DeWeese explanations and rationale.

It seems the only person in PA who believes DeWeese's "Sgt. Schulzt" routine is AG Tom Corbett. That fact is very suspicious -- at best. Corbett has indicted 10 Democrat staff people, including what insiders have described as mid-level staff, and yet he has let off the hook the man who was responsible for the entire House Democrat caucus operation. We have looked at similar public corruption investigations and prosecutions in other states all over the country and we can't find another single investigation where the staff people were indicted and not the elected officials they worked for.

So we are now two years into the Bonusgate investigation with new and serious questions about the quality and motives of the investigation. And as we know, two years after the investigation started there has not been a single Republican indicted.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


A Captain Renault post: Attorney General Tom Corbett has made it official. Corbett launched his widely expected campaign for Governor on Monday so it's going to be all-politics-all-the-time in the Attorney General's office once again. Corbett has lined up some Republican party heavyweights headlined by his political patron saint the Republican National Committeeman and fundraiser extraordinaire Bob Asher.

Asher has long been given credit in the Republican political world for being the key player in Corbett's win in the 2004 Republican primary for Attorney General against then Montgomery County DA Bruce Castor. Asher is also known to be a very close political ally and huge benefactor over the last dozen years to former House Speaker John Perzel and Perzel's former chief of staff Brain Preski. Asher raised and contributed tens of thousands of dollars for Perzel's various campaign accounts in each election cycle and without a doubt was one of the most important political allies Perzel had as he rose to be the Republican Speaker of the House.

Now, according to published accounts and to rampant rumors in the Capitol, Perzel and Preski are supposedly under investigation by Asher's candidate for Governor Tom Corbett. Corbett is going to be under increasing pressure from the public and the press to indict some Republicans to prove his investigation is not a partisan witch hunt. Corbett himself has repeatedly implied that Republicans will be indicted and he has insisted that "all 4 caucuses" are being investigated.

So are two of Asher's closest political allies of the last decade on a collision course? Or will they all try to work this out in some back room? If Perzel is saved, who will be the Republican sacrificial lamb that Corbett indicts?

If Corbett does indict Perzel and Preski, how will the Republican party establishment react given the fact that Corbett has let Perzel's long time nemesis House Democrat Bill DeWeese off the hook with no indictment. There is mounting evidence in the public realm that implicates Bill Deweese in the Bonusgate investigation yet he remains unindicted. The political community is already full of rumors that DeWeese made some kind of secret deal with Corbett.

Given the prevalence of those rumors, and the number of news stories that seem to demonstrate DeWeese's complicity in Bonusgate, can Corbett really indict John Perzel and not Bill DeWeese and then run for governor in the Republican primary? It's hard to imagine that Bob Asher thinks that's a good political strategy for Corbett or a good outcome for his longtime ally John Perzel.

So many questions...more to come.

Monday, March 16, 2009


A Captain Renault post: As I've mentioned here before, the Checking the Balance blog site, does some of the best reporting in the blog world on PA politics and government. Today CTB is all over the DeWeese/Chadwick/Corbett story with several good posts. CTB blows big holes in the DeWeese/Chadwick line of defense in the lawsuit filed by Majority Leader Todd Eachus against Chadwick and DeWeese.

Checking the Balance has done some great work on the Bonusgate story -- and they have been particularly good at exposing the absurdities in many parts of AG Corbett's now two year old investigation. We do note that every time they check on the "balance" of Corbett's Bonusgate investigation they never find any.


A Captain Renault post: Brad Bumstead of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review breaks a story in today's edition that adds to the mounting evidence of some kind of secret deal between Bill DeWeese and AG Corbett and his staff. The Bumstead article is explosive and begins to help explain why DeWeese has been trying so hard to prevent the rest of his Caucus -- and anyone else -- from looking at the Bonusgate file he and his lawyer Chadwick compiled over the last two years. We will post more later on the Bumstead revelations but we want to focus this post on another interesting email that to us highlights the unholy relationship between DeWeese and Corbett.

According to the public documents entered into evidence during last Friday's hearing in the suit between Eachus and DeWeese, on the very day that Deweese and his lawyer Chadwick had agreed to turn over their investigative file to Eachus and his lawyer, they changed their minds and DeWeese invoked his attorney-client privilege and ordered Chadwick to not turn the file over.

Read the email here.

The fascinating part of this email is that as Chadwick informs Eachus' lawyer Chris Casey that he will not turn over the file, he copies Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina (and DeWeese) on the email! A portion of the email is redacted either by Chadwick or the court (and not by us). We of course would love to see the redacted portion of the email because it must really go to the heart of what DeWeese is hiding and what the AG knows about the contents of the Chadwick file.

To me the very fact that Chadwick copied Fina on the email to Casey points out how DeWeese and Corbett are closely working together on the Bonusgate investigation. It also seemed to me to be a threat to Casey and Eachus -- a clear indication that if you "screw with me Eachus you are going to incur the wrath of the Attorney General!"

This email just adds more fuel to the fire on the speculation that DeWeese and Corbett have some secret and corrupt deal.

Want more fuel for that fire? According to several sources within the Capitol, DeWeese made some fascinating comments in the closed-door, members only caucus meeting last week.

Paraphrasing the sources:

DeWeese to the caucus members: "Tom Corbett told me personally that he doesn't want anyone to see this file". (So according to DeWeese he is talking directly to Corbett. How does that happen?)

DeWeese to caucus members: "The investigation of the House Democrats is done. It's over with. I know. We have nothing to worry about." (So DeWeese is speaking to the caucus for the AG's office? How can DeWeese claim to "know" what is happening with the Bonusgate investigation unless he is talking directly with Corbett and his staff ?)

The AG's staff has continued to decline to say publicly whether or not Deweese is cleared of any wrongdoing in the investigation. But DeWeese himself has been telling anyone and everyone in a very public way that he is "cleared". DeWeese is either stone cold crazy (very possible) or he has a deal with Corbett (very possible and seems more likely every day).

More fuel for the fire later today....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Corbett and DeWeese: Deal or No Deal?


This email was recently sent to the House Democratic Caucus:

House Democrats:

So, Bill Chadwick finally admits what we've known all along: his high-priced team of taxpayer-funded lawyers worked for Bill DeWeese personally.

The lawyers who gathered all the evidence and determined what would be turned over to Tom Corbett in response to subpoenas were Bill DeWeese's personal lawyers. (“An unseemly Democratic spectacle” Tribune Review, 3/15/09)

The lawyers who counseled all the staffers who testified to the grand jury - and may have testified against you - were Bill DeWeese's personal lawyers. (“Mediator may settle DeWeese controversy” Associated Press, 3/14/09)

The lawyers who sat in the courtroom as representatives of those witnesses and listened to all the supposedly secret grand jury testimony were Bill DeWeese's personal lawyers.

In essence, partisan Republican Tom Corbett said to Bill DeWeese: "We think you and your colleagues may have been up to no good. Could you do me favor and check around and let me know if you find anything incriminating?"

You shouldn’t be surprised that DeWeese turned over evidence incriminating others and not himself.

Or did he? What's in the secret file Chadwick is withholding?

DeWeese admitted to you in your members-only caucus last week that Corbett told him personally that he doesn't want anyone in the caucus looking at that file. Chadwick made sure to include Corbett honcho Frank Fina in his email to Chris Casey denying the caucus access to the file. The redacted portion was redacted by Chadwick. See it here.

Just whom is Corbett protecting? And why?

Corbett continues to claim, like a broken record, that his investigation isn't finished, and more arrests are coming. Yet DeWeese also told you in caucus last week that he is 100% certain there will be no more House Democratic arrests. To quote him, “It’s over.” How does DeWeese know?

Don't give up the fight to get access to the file. Whatever is going on between Corbett and DeWeese must be exposed as soon as possible.

Whatever is in that file may have explosive repercussions for Corbett’s gubernatorial primary campaign. Republican primary voters are unlikely to look favorably on Tom Corbett cutting favorable deals with someone whom everyone in the Capitol knows should be a prime suspect in the bonus investigation.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


A Captain Renault post: Well the court hearing took place on Friday in a Dauphin County courtroom packed with lawyers to hear the pleadings in an unprecedented legal battle between two elected caucus leaders of the same party. I will post here some of the news coverage of the hearing and some of my own comments on the coverage and the hearing. Upcoming posts will include some of the documents from the hearing -- including a very interesting email from Bill DeWeese's lawyer to Eachus's lawyer.

John Micek of the Allentown Morning Call says he was in attendance and described the legal battle as a "steel-cage death match" between DeWeese and Eachus in his Friday blog post. Micek seems to be a smart guy and a good reporter. His blogs are entertaining and he includes a high level of snarky commentary in his morning blog column. Nothing wrong with snarky comments (I use them liberally) but I hope he also does some serious reporting on the underlying issues in this legal battle between Bill DeWeese (by himself) and Todd Eachus (representing the House Dem Caucus). What is Bill DeWeese hiding John? Why are the rest of the Democrats so intent on viewing the DeWeese/Chadwick files that they file a public suit knowing that the resulting press coverage would be nothing but horrible for all of them?

Speaking of horrible press coverage, The Scranton Times-Tribune published the first that I saw of what will undoubtedly be numerous editorials damning everyone involved in this mess.

Mark Scolforo broke the story on the lawsuit late last week and continues to cover it almost daily with updates throughout the day. I hope Mark stays on the story and digs a little deeper to report on what may really be at stake here. Mark, what is DeWeese hiding? There are enough serious people now questioning whether or not DeWeese and Corbett have some kind of unholy alliance or even a secret deal that it surely it warrants your attention and talents for a closer look.

The blog Sights on Pennsylvania has a great post about the absurdity of all of the lawyers now involved in this Democrat circular firing squad and the costs for the huge billable hours all of these lawyers are racking up. And yep, you the taxpayers are paying for every minute of it. We now have lawyers who are representing lawyers who represent lawyers who represent some staff and House members (some of whom are lawyers!). Sights on Pennsylvania is always recommended reading for those following politics in PA -- especially Northeast PA.

The Republicans must be really getting a kick out of all of this. We now have the press focusing on more House Democrat Bonusgate related stories instead of on why Corbett has only indicted House Democrats and no House Republicans after two years of the Bonusgate investigation, or why after two years there has been virtually no investigation of the Senate Republicans even though they gave out some of the biggest bonuses to widely known political operatives and were also widely known to have a serious political operation within the caucus.

More in the next few posts -- including some court documents and the very interesting email I mention above.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


A Captain Renault post: So who's feeling lucky on Friday the 13th? The lawyers for the top two Democrat Caucus leaders will face off in Dauphin County Court on Friday March 13th at 10am.

This is an incredible and unprecedented legal battle between two elected Caucus leaders. Eachus and DeWeese ran together on a slate for the #1 and #2 slot in November. Despite his demotion, DeWeese has made numerous public pledges over the past few months that he would be an active member of the new Democrat leadership team and a "loyal Lieutenant" to new Majority Leader Eachus. One thing that has become clearer than ever to people watching the Bonusgate story is that DeWeese, who is fond of invoking his status as a former US Marine, obviously skipped all of the Marine Corp training on loyalty.

The AP has published the latest version of their story.

We posted some of the court documents in the Eachus vs DeWeese lawsuit on Tuesday and we will post all of the documents as they become available.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


A Captain Renault post: It sounds like much of the Capitol chatter today is all about the Eachus vs DeWeese open warfare and the suit filed by Eachus and the Dem Caucus against former caucus lawyer Bill Chadwick. There seems to be intense interest in and speculation on trying to figure out just what is Bill Deweese hiding in those Chadwick files he wants no one to see.

From the comments of people that have known DeWeese for a long time, and from reading published reports, DeWeese's rationale for invoking his attorney-client privilege preventing Chadwick from turning over the files to Eachus -- that he has some concern for the privacy rights of the staff that may have cooperated with Corbett's investigation -- is laughable.

The court documents filed by Casey (see yesterday's post) make no mention of Chadwick ever stating that DeWeese's concern was "for the staff" in the months they were arguing over the return of the file. Casey claims in the suit it wasn't until the day that Chadwick had set to turn over the file that he announced to Casey and Eachus that he suddenly could not do as promised because DeWeese invoked his attorney client privilege. In the first press reports on this subject Chadwick never mentions DeWeese's concern for the privacy of the staff. It was at least 24 hours after first questioned by reporters that DeWeese and Chadwick started to use the "staff privacy" rationale as a way to explain why DeWeese would not turn over the file. As I wrote above -- it's laughable.

From any casual reading of stories about Bill DeWeese over the years, one clear constant in his career has been that DeWeese's most important concern is for DeWeese and only Deweese. (See former Speaker Bob O' Donnell, see DeWeese-described "best friend" Mike Veon, see former DeWeese chief of staff Mike Manzo). It's pretty clear to most people in the state Capitol that DeWeese will throw anyone under the bus to save or advance himself -- and that would include every staff person that may have cooperated in the Bonusgate investigation and any current member of the House Democrat caucus. There doesn't appear to be much dispute on that point among the Capitol crowd.

So just what is Bill DeWeese so intent on keeping buried? There are many theories being talked about in the Capitol and there appears to be areal fear among some House Democrats that more of them are going to get indicted. Here are a few of the theories making the rounds in the Capitol:

1. The file contains information that proves DeWeese made a secret deal with Corbett to implicate anyone and everyone Corbett wants to indict as long as he lets DeWeese off the hook. (Our favorite theory)

2. The file contains evidence of dossiers that DeWeese/Chadwick created on many members of the Democrat Caucus that includes embarrassing personal info and potentially incriminating criminal information such as emails or political files. (Which would explain why the rest of the Hose Dems want so badly to see the files)

3. The files contain very incriminating information/emails/files on DeWeese himself that he doesn't want any other members, staff or lawyers to see.

4. The files contain information that should have been turned over to the Attorney General based on subpoenas but was not.

5. The files contain information that make it clear Chadwick, DeWeese and their legal team selectively gave the AG's investigators information that implicates current members of the Democrat Caucus in some aspects of the Bonusgate investigation.

6. All of the above. (Our new favorite theory)

As we have mentioned in previous posts, the material in these files must be very explosive. Why else would Eachus and DeWeese so publicly go to war with each other in public court? So just what is DeWeese keeping buried in the Chadwick files? Send us your own theories here at our blog or email them to us and we will post them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


A Captain Renault post: Chris Casey, brother of US Senator Bob Casey, is the lawyer for Todd Eachus in the lawsuit filed by Eachus and the Democrat Caucus against Bill Chadwick.

I am posting the documents Casey filed in the lawsuit and will comment more on them tomorrow. Read them for yourself. You can see by some of the language used in these court documents that this is an unprecedented legal and political battle between two elected leaders in a legislative caucus and between an elected leader (DeWeese) and a lawyer representing that leader's entire caucus.

The Court Documents:

The Eachus/Casey Complaint

The Eachus/Casey Motion for Injunction

The Eachus/Casey Legal Memorandum


A Captain Renault post: The battle lines are drawn and the war is on in the House Democrat Caucus. Majority Leader Todd Eachus and the House Democrat Caucus have filed an unprecedented and startling lawsuit against lawyer and Washington D.C. based consultant Bill Chadwick (and by proxy against Bill DeWeese). At the heart of this war is this question: When Bill Chadwick and Bill DeWeese signed the contract to bring Chadwick to Harrisburg to work on the Bonusgate investigation for the House Democrats, who did and does lawyer Chadwick represent -- Bill DeWeese individually or the House Democrat Caucus and all of the members?

Chadwick was paid $1.3 million by the House Democrat Caucus over the last two years. We posted earlier today with more details on the dispute and the reasons for the lawsuit and the AP's Mark Scolforo has been all over the story and posting updates throughout the day. Scolforo broke the story first late last night.

This lawsuit is an unprecedented full frontal attack by Eachus on Bill DeWeese and Chadwick.

Behind the scenes, according to sources within the Dem Caucus, there appear to be many political, legal, and personal reasons for the lawsuit which we will continue to explore in the days ahead. the bottom line in the lawsuit is that Eachus and his lawyers want Chadwick to turn over all of the emails, information and documents he collected over the almost two years he worked for the Democrat Caucus while spearheading the Caucus' effort to "co-operate" with Attorney General Tom Corbett in the Bonusgate investigation.

In published accounts Chadwick is claiming that he can't give Eachus the information because Bill DeWeese won't allow him. DeWeese, Chadwick says, has asserted his attorney-client privilege and since DeWeese was his client over the last two years -- not the Democrat Caucus -- Chadwick can not and will not turn over the information to Eachus and his legal team.

It looks like a judge will have to sort this mess out while the war continues in the halls of the state Capitol.

In the meantime, we have a copy of the Chadwick contracts here and here. A plain English language reading of these contracts make it clear the "client" in these contracts is the House Democrat Caucus and not Bill DeWeese personally. For DeWeese to assert his "privilege" and for Chadwick to go along with it under these circumstances and knowing they would be sued in public court by Eachus, you have to believe there is some dynamite in the information DeWeese wants to keep hidden from his colleagues and from public view.

Our next post will be the documents Chris Casey, Eachus' lawyer, filed in court yesterday in the suit against Chadwick. The documents are very interesting if you are following this fascinating political story.


A Captain Renault post: You can't make this stuff up. And if you did, no one would believe you. But to us it sure looks like we aren't aren't the only ones trying to figure out if DeWeese made some deal with Corbett to implicate other Democrats (including current Dem House members) in order to save his own hide. Eachus and DeWeese, the two top elected Democrat Leaders, are now going to war with each other over still unknown and untold parts of the Bonusgate fiasco.

The AP's Mark Scolforo ran with a story first published last night that reported the new Majority Leader Todd Eachus and the Democrat caucus has sued former caucus/DeWeese lawyer Bill Chadwick in order to force Chadwick to turn over all of the files he collected while on contract with the House Democrats over the last two years. According to the news reports, Chadwick earned $1.3 million during the course of his contract and was terminated by the new caucus leadership sometime in January.

Chadwick says he will not turn over all of the information he gathered on DeWeese and other Democrat House members and current caucus staff while he was on the public payroll to anyone unless forced by a court to do so. Chadwick has told reporters that DeWeese has asserted his attorney-client privilege with Chadwick and refuses to allow Chadwick to release the files that Eachus and the Democrat caucus believe they are entitled to. The position that Chadwick and DeWeese are now taking regarding the attorney-client privilege is in direct contrast to many past public statements that we recall both of them making to many reporters over the past months which indicated that Chadwick was a lawyer "for the caucus" and not for DeWeese personally. (We are looking for the articles and quotes and will post some later).

This latest episode of open warfare between Eachus and DeWeese would be funny if it wasn't so sad and didn't have so many serious implications for so many people. After all, Eachus and DeWeese just ran together on a leadership "slate" in November and helped each other get elected to their current leadership positions. And it's been obvious to so many observers from the beginning of this Bonusgate investigation that DeWeese was doing everything he could to throw anyone and everyone under the bus to save himself -- and that would include any of his colleagues. So DeWeese's colleagues are just now figuring that out?

There are so many interesting questions surrounding this intra-party war: What is DeWeese hiding? What is Eachus concerned about finding in "the Chadwick files"? Who else does DeWeese and his lawyer have a file on? How are Democrats going to govern in the majority with their top two leaders suing each other over serious Bonusgate issues?

There are many more questions and we will try to post on some of them -- and some of our own answers and suppositions -- in the hours ahead.

I mean, really, you can't make this stuff up!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


A Captain Renault post: One of the interesting and ongoing Bonusgate stories we want to explore over the next few weeks is a subject that is still being whispered about in the halls of the Capitol and the taverns throughout Harrisburg even 7 long months after Corbett's indictment last July of 12 Democrats in the Bonusgate investigation. The subject: How did Bill DeWeese escape indictment?

There has been much speculation in the PA political community on why DeWeese wasn't indicted with the other Democrats. DeWeese has, as we know, loudly proclaimed his innocence and has steadfastly stuck to his "Sgt. Schultz" defense: "I know nothing!". DeWeese claims that even though he was the man in charge of the Democrat caucus and the ultimate legal authority for the administration of caucus staff, budgets, and contracts, he knew absolutely nothing about what any of the 12 Democrats were accused of doing in the indictments. This DeWeese public defense is offered despite the fact that he worked in the same building with the accused, one of them was his Chief of Staff, one of them was his principle Caucus personnel director, he presumably attended many meetings and events with them, he likely saw many of them every day, and one of them (Veon) was described as his closest ally in the legislature.

You have to give DeWeese credit for largely pulling off this incredible public defense. The Main Stream Media has (mostly) accepted the DeWeese Sgt. Schultz defense and the voters in his district re-elected him last November. You have to assume that if the voters believed that DeWeese was anything other than the stumble-bum Schultz they wouldn't have re-elected him. A review of the public record and a careful listen to the public chatter among staff, legislators, and lobbyists over the last few months leads one to conclude that DeWeese had perfected the Sgt. Schultz defense long before there ever was a Bonusgate. DeWeese had long had a knack for taking public credit for things that went well and always had a ready explanation for things that didn't work out so well. His explanations: "I know nothing". "It was somebody else's fault". DeWeese, it seems, was always ready to explain to anyone who would listen that he didn't know about whatever mistake or problem was presented to him. And, if he had known about it, he still wouldn't know about it.

But the whispers in the halls of the Capitol continue despite DeWeese's adept public performance and his ability to remain unindicted to date. One of the theories quietly making the rounds since last summer is that DeWeese and Corbett made a secret and corrupt deal of some kind. The theories about the nature of the secret, corrupt deal range widely and include:

*DeWeese and his legal team provide all the necessary incriminating evidence and information to make it possible and certain that Corbett can indict anyone he wants in the Democrat Caucus --anyone but DeWeese.

*Corbett doesn't indict DeWeese and the Democrat party would offer no organized opposition to Corbett in the 08 election and no organized support for Corbett's Democrat opponent.

We of course have no idea whether or not Corbett and DeWeese made some secret, corrupt deal. But many people in the PA political community do find it rather fascinating and interesting that despite evidence already in the public realm (Mike Manzo's testimony at the preliminary hearing), and newspaper stories with first hand accounts from grand jury witnesses that seem to implicate DeWeese, he was not indicted with the other 12 Democrats.

Now that AG Corbett appears to be focusing more on the House Republicans, DeWeese must be breathing sighs of relief. But any House Republicans who may think they are Corbett's cross hairs must be wondering how DeWeese escaped being charged with any crimes while Corbett eyes up the House Republicans for possible indictments.

Over the next few weeks, we will highlight some of the news stories and facts found in the public realm here on CasablancaPA which would appear to implicate DeWeese in activities for which the 12 Democrats were indicted. You can draw your own conclusions -- and share with us your own theories.

Is DeWeese implicated and yet not indicted?

Most people following the Bonusgate story are familiar with the sensational news articles that resulted from DeWeese's former Chief of Staff Mike Manzo's appearance at the Bonusgate preliminary hearing. Manzo testified at the preliminary hearing that DeWeese was aware of the bonus payments to staff. We will have more on Manzo's testimony later.

But the first article we want to highlight is this one written by Pittsburgh Tribune Review reporters Brad Bumstead an Debra Erdley on October 16, 2008. In the excerpt below, a Pittsburgh businessman who claims he was a grand jury witness appears to implicate DeWeese in having his staff do campaign work on state time.

Sidella while a state employee handled campaign fundraising for DeWeese, Pittsburgh businessman Jamie Rossell told the Trib. Rossell, who held a technology contract with House Democrats, said he didn't know Sidella was a state aide when he dealt with him on campaign finance matters during regular business hours in the Capitol in 2006. He said he assumed Sidella was a private contractor like himself.

Rossell, who claims House Democrats owe him money, said DeWeese told him to deal with Sidella on fundraising matters.

The article explains that Kevin Sidella was on DeWeese's caucus staff until October of 2007. From the article:

Sidella was DeWeese's campaign treasurer, a job he held while drawing a paycheck as a research analyst on DeWeese's staff. He is now a consultant to the DeWeese campaign with WS Group, a company he founded after leaving DeWeese's staff in October 2007. His company handles fundraising for DeWeese.

From our reading of this article and our reading of the indictment against the 12 Democrats it would appear that this businessman, in his grand jury testimony, implicated Bill DeWeese and at least some of DeWeese's unindicted staff in activities for which others were indicted.

So how did Bill DeWeese escape indictment? Is it still possible that DeWeese will be indicted in the future or has Corbett moved on to the House Republicans and now DeWeese is in the clear?

We'll explore more of this part of the Bonusgate story -- the unindicted Bill DeWeese -- in future posts.

Monday, March 2, 2009


A Captain Renault post: My colleague Ugarte had another powerful posting on Friday regarding hyper-partisan, hypocritical prosecutor AG Tom Corbett. While the Main Stream Media has been busy canonizing Corbett for his Bonusgate investigation, they have virtually ignored the "miracles" Corbett has worked for his fellow Republican office holders. It seems that St. Thomas' tough talk about investigating and prosecuting sexual predators and "public corruption" falls a bit short when it comes to applying that talk to other Republican elected officials.

The Altoona Mirror carried a story last week about Corbett declining to prosecute the Republican District Attorney in Bedford County for an alleged rape. Anyone following Corbett's career could not be surprised by the result of Corbett's "investigation" of the alleged rape. As Ugarte's Friday post dramatically points out, Corbett has a history of coming to the rescue of fellow Republican prosecutors in their time of need. The Stan Rebert story outlined in several stories here on our Blog points out that Rebert admitted under oath many actions for which others have been indicted and convicted. Yet Corbett and his partisan AG staff cleared Rebert of any wrongdoing. No Grand Jury. No indictment. No criminal charges.

So it is not surprising that St. Thomas cleared the Bedford DA of any criminal action. But this was an alleged rape by a Republican District Attorney! A District Attorney who is a political supporter and contributor to Corbett. Why didn't Corbett hand this case to a fair and clearly impartial prosecutor -- like a DA from another county far away from Bedford County? Why not take the case to one of the many grand juries Corbett is so fond of bragging about?

These are rhetorical questions of course. We know why.

The more important questions are: Why does the MSM ignore Corbett's blatant conflict of interest in a case like this -- and in the Rebert case. For crying out loud, this is a rape case! A Republican prosecutor has been accused by a citizen of PA! Does the MSM have no shame? Are the reporters and editors so busy canonizing Corbett that they can't even ask the tough questions and do some minimal amount of investigative reporting on a case like this? Where are all of the high-minded editorialists who so often love to point out the conflicts of interest of politicians? Where is the call so often heard from editorials for transparency and fairness and keeping politics out of the judicial system?

So many questions, so few good answers.