Speaker Keith McCall's retirement is the hot news of the day. As things like this go, there is always the propensity to look back on a retiree's career with rose-colored glasses. We'd like to inject some reality into this process before the chapter for McCall in the Book of Saints gets written.
It is a fact that McCall was a good legislator. Not just good, but above average. He was a concientious and committed representative for Carbon County. And, when it came to transportation issues, McCall was a diligent and hard worker.
However, this morning we saw the first hints of revisionist history when it comes to McCall and bonusgate.
Before this gets out of hand, it is important that a few facts are pointed out about McCall and his involvement in the culture that has permeated Harrisburg since Ben Franklin's time in the Speaker's chair. A culture he actively participated in until the paradigm shift occured when gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett began his investigation of the House Democratic Caucus.
First, McCall filled his staff with former Veon staff. Notably, the Veon staff that has since been shown to be among the most political. Take a look at Corbett's witness list for the upcoming Veon trial and you'll recognize the names of current and former McCall staff.
Make no mistake. McCall swooped up these Veon workers because he knew what they could do politically for his nascent leadership position. There is no doubt that PJ Lavelle was hired to do the exact same job for McCall as Lavelle did for Veon. You can see it all in Exhibit E-18 of the Veon pre-trial motion from July of 2009. His plans for his Veon inheritance only came to an end when the bonusgate investigation made it no longer tenable.
McCall's use of his staff for political activity didn't just start with his ascendancy to the Whip position in 2007. Exhibit E-18 shows his staff using their taxpayer emails during normal work hours to coordinate campaign work for both McCall and other members of the caucus.
Finally, we encourage everyone to take a peek at the Transportation Committee and Whip contingency accounts McCall maintained. Match it to the per diems he collected. Veon was charged by Corbett for five felonies for the exact same use of his Whip contingency account.
McCall is a good man and will be remembered as a good legislator. But, before anyone writes a hagiography, keep in mind that when it came to the culture of politics and perks in Harrisburg, he was just a typical legislator.