Tuesday, January 12, 2010
According to the grand jury presentment charging former House Majority Leader H. William DeWeese with misuse of public resources, DeWeese once told his top taxpayer-funded political operative Kevin Sidella: "Our saving grace is that everyone does it."
We've certainly seen enough of the evidence gathered (but not used) by Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett (and quite a bit Corbett would prefer that no one had gathered) to know DeWeese was spot-on when he said "everyone does it." But why did he think that would be his "saving grace?"
Because it usually takes a certain amount of moral authority to prosecute someone for wrongdoing. In some parts of the world, that whole thing about "casting the first stone" actually carries some weight.
But it's not just Corbett's colossal effrontery that caught DeWeese by surprise. It's the shocking passivity of the entire Harrisburg establishment. It's a simple question, that - unbelievably - no one has the initiative to ask: Why is it okay for Tom Corbett to use his taxpayer-funded staff for campaigning while prosecuting others for multiple felonies on accusations of the very same thing?
We know without a doubt that Corbett's taxpayer-funded staff made and received hundreds of phone calls - on their state phones, on state time - to and from Corbett's campaign staff. There's no legitimate explanation for these phone calls. Corbett may try to claim that his own phone calls to and from the state phones of state workers on his "personal" cell phone were legitimate state business - but then he's got to explain why he had his campaign pay for them. (At least, he would if anyone ever bothered to ask him) Good luck with that. But what state business can he claim his campaign staff were discussing with his state staff on state phones during state time?
He's charged others for employing campaign operatives in taxpayer-funded positions, even while his own top campaign aides - most notably his chief of staff/campaign manager - rest comfortably in taxpayer-funded positions.
He's spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on campaign ads disguised as "public service announcements."
And, of course, one could argue (we certainly would) that every dime of the millions of taxpayer dollars spent on investigating and prosecuting members of the legislature for the very same type of activity can be considered a campaign expense.
No, DeWeese never counted on the unprecidented level of hypocrisy Corbett has displayed throughout his legislative investigation. But no one ever counted on the disappointing level of apathy that has allowed him to get away with it.