Monday, April 19, 2010


Let's set aside the fact that Senator Jane Orie and her family are wack-a-doodles who do things like trying to gaslight their employees (Post Gazette 1/6/10) and make threatening phone calls to their political opponents in the middle of the night. (WTAE TV 4/7/10)

Let's set aside the fact that Representative Bill DeWeese is one of the most flawed and warped human beings to have ever served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. (Tribune Review 12/22/09)

Love'em or hate'em, their lawyer makes a very compelling case as to why Pennsylvania's conflict of interest statutes, which have led to multiple indictments and prosecutions of state legislators and their staffs, are overly vague and open to abuse by politically motivated prosecutors like gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett:
"Unless the courts intervene and strike down the current version of the conflict-of-interest statute as unconstitutional, we will continue to see individual prosecutors pursuing their own agendas and creating de facto ethics codes and policy rules for elected public officials through the criminal justice system -- just as they are in the instant cases." (Post Gazette 4/20/10)
Corbett's taxpayer funded campaign mouthpiece Kevin Harley retorts that all this gnashing of teeth over the vagueness of the statute in question "has already been tested by the state's Supreme Court and found constitutional." (Post Gazette 4/20/10)

Wrong! The Supreme Court hasn't even heard an argument, let alone "test" the statute. Corbett's own lawyers said on the same day Harley shot his mouth off that the Supreme Court refused to take the Habay appeal. (Tribune Review 4/20/10)

[How much longer are Corbett's political operatives going to be allowed to make blatantly erroneous statements that further Corbett's political ambitions? How much longer are the professional legal "dogs" in the OAG like Fina going to put up with being wagged by the political "tail" of Corbett's taxpayer-funded campaign operatives Brian Nutt and Harley? But, we digress.]

When the Superior Court (not the Supreme Court, Kevin) ruled against Habay, they left in place a very vague and very confusing landscape for prosecutors to navigate. It was confusing to begin with and the reason why the Habay defense appealed on this issue. There is no better example of this than a comparison of how the Ethics Commission concurrently dealt with the Habay case and an ethics complaint against former Representative Jim Lynch.

Habay was found to have violated the law when he "utilized Commonwealth facilities, equipment, materials and employees during normal office hours" for his political campaigns. As a result, the Ethics Commission referred the matter "to the appropriate law enforcement authority for review as to the institution of a criminal prosecution." (Order #1313, 3/11/04)

Three months later, the Ethics Commission found Lynch to have "utilized his legislative district employees in the district office to perform political/campaign related work during normal state office hours." Yet, while the findings against Lynch were identical to those against Habay, the commission let Lynch off with a $5,381.23 fine and no referral to law enforcement. (Order #1334, 6/8/04)

Why the difference? Both findings regarded felonious amounts of resources being diverted for political campaigns. The Ethics Commission was the exact same group of commissioners.

The Habay/Lynch situation isn't an anomaly. The discrepancies in how law enforcement and the Ethics Commission proceed with cases against public officials and employees has persisted since the initial decision by the Ethics Commission in 2004.

In 2006, Corbett investigated York County DA Stan Rebert based on extensively documented campaign activity and sworn depositions. Corbett ignored the violations entirely. (York Dispatch 1/27/06)

Again in 2006, Venango County Sherriff Gene Price was found by the Ethics Commission to have "utilized county employees, office equipment and supplies during regular working hours for election campaigns." Again, no referral to law enforcement, just a $3,000 fine. (Order #1409, 10/4/2006)

Perhaps the most egregious discrepancy is the post-Bonusgate Ethics Commission decision that found former Representative Matt Wright "used staff, office space, equipment and materials of his legislative District Office and his Capitol Office to further his re-election campaigns." There was no referral to law enforcement (just a $10,000 fine) and no indictments from Corbett even though Corbett crowed repeatedly about having an active grand jury investigating the House Republican Caucus at that time. (Order #1541, 12/15/09)

And, what about the staff? Corbett decided to indict numerous staff persons while letting dozens of elected members of the General Assembly off the hook for rampant violations of using state employees and resources for campaign purposes (as the Veon trial showed.) Nearly all of them were found to have violated the conflict of interest laws.

Again, the Ethics Commission has been arbitrary in how it treats public employees who violate the law. While Corbett has indicted legislative employees with multiple felonies based on the Habay decision, the Ethics Commission has handled multiple others with kid gloves while at the same time using their Habay ruling in the rationale for their decisions.

Terry Bryant "utilized Commonwealth facilities, equipment, personnel, and supplies in support of his outside employment with real estate companies" and was fined $2,000 with no referral to law enforcement. (Order #1367, 6/6/05)

Jem Pagan "utilized computer hardware and software, which was the property of the commonwealth, for his personal use" and was fined $5,921.39 with no referral to law enforcement. (Order #1466, 4/28/08)

Replace "outside employment with real estate companies" or "his personal use" with "campaign" or "political" and there are no difference between Bryant or Pagan and any of the bonusgate staff defendants.

Even though we find DeWeese and Orie repugnant -- for either their politics or how they treated their staff or both -- we agree wholeheartedly with their lawyer when he writes:
"What in fact has happened in [Orie's] case and others, is that precisely because of the facial vagueness of the conflict-of-interest statute ... implied authorization and encouragement has been given to prosecutors to enforce such conduct arbitrarily and in a discriminatory way against a number of politicians." (Associated Press, 4/19/2010)
Pennsylvanians have to look no further than gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett for the best and most blatant example.


Anonymous said...

Groups Call For Corbett To Resign As Attorney General:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
By Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HARRISBURG -- A coalition of citizens groups and unions today called on state Attorney General Tom Corbett to resign from his state office if he wants to continue running for governor.

"It is vital that the attorney general avoid even the appearance of bias," said Michael Morrill, leader of a liberal group called Keystone Progress.

He added that in recent weeks, Mr. Corbett "has come under almost daily criticism for appearing to be using his office for political gain."

Some Democrats have criticized Mr. Corbett, a Republican, for charging more Democrats than Republicans in an ongoing investigation into the payment of taxpayer-funded bonuses for staffers to do political work and other types of corruption.

Mr. Corbett has replied that members of both parties are among the 25 people who have been investigated and charged.

Other critics have opposed Mr. Corbett for joining a lawsuit against the new federal health insurance law.

Today, through a spokesman, Mr. Corbett, who polls show is the leading Republican candidate for governor in the May 18 primary, adamantly refused to step down as the state's chief law enforcement officer.

"It appears that these groups have joined the chorus of criminal defendants who have been charged with political corruption, who realize that the only way to get your name in the paper is to criticize Tom Corbett," said aide Kevin Harley.

"The attorney general will continue to do his job and is not resigning."

Groups at an anti-Corbett news conference included two that were active in helping overturn the legislative pay raise of 2005, Democracy Rising PA and Rock the Capital. Others were two labor unions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union, plus the Americans for Democratic Action and Healthcare for America Now.

Marc Stier, director of the health care group, sharply criticized Mr. Corbett for joining a lawsuit filed by a dozen other state attorneys general that seeks to void the recently enacted federal health care law.

"Mr. Corbett is dangerous...,"

Mr. Stier said. "He has joined a lawsuit that threatens one of the most important achievements in American history, health care reform legislation that will benefit hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians over the next 10 to 20 years."

Timothy Potts of Democracy Rising criticized all six candidates for governor -- Democrats Dan Onorato (Allegheny County executive), Jack Wagner (state auditor general), Joe Hoeffel (Montgomery County commissioner) and Anthony Williams (a state senator), plus Republicans Sam Rohrer (a state representative) and Mr. Corbett.

Mr. Potts said all six are running for higher office while holding an existing public office, which he said means they're ignoring their constituents because they're busy every day on the campaign trail.

He urged the Legislature to enact a "resign to run" law, which would force politicians to resign from whatever office they currently hold if they plan to run for a different office.

Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital agreed, saying, "How many private employers pay their employees to look for another job while on the company clock?"

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Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...What about Sen. Ward - is anyone looking at her State Senate Computers and her former Westmoreland County Commissioner Computers before they are replaced and/or destroyed? April 19, 2010 11:06 PM

Corbett is too busy running for Governor to investigate any senators especially Republicans that are endorsing Corbett, raising money for Corbett, and Campaigning with Corbett.

The Tea Party Baggers are not please and this is how Citizens Militia start to hate all government.

For God Sakes to save our system of governmnet tyrants like Corbett must be stopped by rationale US Attorneys, Pennsylvania Wise Justices, and Men and Women in Public Service that know when someone is exploiting the system for his own gain.

Anonymous said...

Tom Corbett reminds me of the Corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham from tales of Robin Hood.

If he becomes Governor he will be a King John, the worse Monarch to ever rule England and led to the Magna Carta!

We need a Robin Hood Website so bloggers, employees, campaign workers can turn in Corbett's Merry Band of State Time Thieves, while he prosecutes Corbett's opponents!

Judge Lewis is Corbett's Facilator In Law!

Anonymous said...

Reform activists demand Corbett's resignation:

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Government reform activists are calling on state Attorney General Tom Corbett to resign, charging that his political interests are interfering with his elected duties.

Leaders of four groups joined together at a Capitol news conference Tuesday.

Some criticized Corbett for joining some of his counterparts across the county in filing what they characterize as a politically motivated legal challenge to the recently enacted national health-care reform package. Others called on not only Corbett, who is running for governor, but all elected officials who are running for higher office this year to resign from their posts.

Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley says the activists only talk about reform, while Corbett is actually cleaning up the corruption in Harrisburg through his ongoing investigation of the Legislature.


Anonymous said...

When all opf this is finally over one will summarised the legacy of Tom Corbett reign of partisan prosecutions:

"When the long tally is added, it will be seen that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania owe far more to the vices of Legislators than to the labors of a claimed virtuous investigations carrioed out by Attorney General's thugs, theives, and tramps all put into motion on Corbett's Campaign Staff orders".

Anonymous said...

Kevin Harley has become a psychopath, made of amoral and brutal, self-absorbtion, with a flippant sense of humour about his misdeeds, misquotes, and misapplication of the law.

Brian Nutt has successfully manipulated the few honest AG Prosecutors, by appealing to a twisted form of two-faced morality with a flawed moral code of Tom Corbett utter lack of scruples, as he laughs at Press Conferences whne given tough questions he cannot answer.

Tom Corbett has become a cynical opportunist given to violent outbursts as a ruthless despot, breaking the same laws he sworn to defend, and using these very laws against his own political opponents.

They will not escape justice and they know its coming.

Anonymous said...


In addition to raising money for King John adventures and rule the sheriffs were also expected to clamp down on any hint of baronial rebellion, this while King John was giving shires, castles and forest warden ships to his own people much to the annoyance of local established families who had a long tradition of service to the crown.

Royal Officers had always been feared but these foreign newcomers were hated by the northern baronage with a passion, due partly to the fact they had been dispossessed of much of their lands, which meant not only the loss of lands but the revenue from them added to which the revenue on the property they still possessed went not to them but into the coffers of King John.

Few of these foreign sheriff interlopers were more hated than the clan of Gerard d’Athee, Sheriff of Nottinghamshire this being a position they seemed to relish.

Their conduct as Professor Holt informs us included ‘robbery, false arrest, unjust disseisin (wrongful dispossession) and persistent attacks on local landed political interests, both secular and ecclesiastical.’

They had the reputation of wicked men who would carry out the wicked directions of King John and in 1207 as he extorted with the threats of arrests of others.

The men of Lexington also had to give "the Lord the King £100.00 to have the King's peace, and to spare their town from being burnt to the ground.

As late as 1263 it was discovered that Philip Marc had accepted an annual fee of £5 from the burgesses of Nottingham in return for his ‘good will and the maintenance of their liberties.’

Not only that but the Exchequer were considering the ‘profit’ made by the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, which should have been paid six years earlier but luckily for him Marc avoided answering any awkward questions because England was on the brink of civil war.

Adding insult to injury many of the barons had paid scutage in order to be exempted from these episodes of theft but that mattered little to King John who ordered that hostages be taken to insure their participation.

In 1214-15 the Barons were so dissatisfied with King John they threatened war against him and this led to the Magna Carta of 1215.

So entirely hated was Philip Marc that in the famous Magna Charta the nobles put in a clause which they required the King to sign:—Item 50.

“We will remove completely from their offices the kinsmen of Gerard d’Athee and their whole retinue, so that henceforth they shall have no office in England.”

Based on witness testimony before the Investigators and the Grand Jury, Corbett's Prosecutors in Krastek, Blessington, Reeder and especially Costanzo acted just like the Illegal Sheriffs under King John!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...Tom Corbett reminds me of the Corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham from tales of Robin Hood.....April 20, 2010 2:16 PM

Not A Bad Comparison Anonymous 2:16PM


All of Nottingham's sheriffs appear to have been 'hard' men and those in court at Nottingham who took part in the Peasants Revolt were all either heavily fined or outlawed.

Incidentally the sheriff of Nottingham at the time, John de Oxford, was one of the worst criminals ever.

He stole wheat, barley, oats, malt and 200 large oxen that he sold back to their owners for his own profit.

The Archbishop of Canterbury at this time, Simon Sudbury was one of the most unpopular men ever and when he became chancellor he imposed a tax of three goats (one shilling) on every man and woman over the age of the fifteen.

This was three times higher than previously and the rich only had to pay the same as the poorest peasant.

Taking all this into account it is hardly surprising Robin Hood told his men to do no harm to the ploughmen who tills the soil, the yeoman, and the knight and squire but to beware of the bishops, archbishops and the sheriff of Nottingham.

Robin Hood was written at the time of the Peasants Revolt. (TEA BAGGERS)

King John's sheriffs were tough men who were chosen for their powerful personalities, strong spirits, and cruel behavior.

They excelled as verbal fighters and their task as his administrators and governors was to keep the populace in order and to raise taxes.

King John knew personally every one of the hundred or so sheriffs he appointed, some of whom were his intimate friends and most trusted advisors and were carefully chosen for the merciless job they did to others too weak to oppose him.

The Sheriff of Nottingham was particularly disliked and along with King John his equally merciless master they governed the midland and northern counties with an iron hand.

An example of their wickedness was when King John ordered twenty-eight young Welsh boys who were held hostage in Nottingham castle to be hanged from the castle walls for not kneeling before him.

To remain in power King John set about funding an army against his own peasant with money partly raised by his northern sheriffs to whom he gave extra powers by making them royal officials answerable to the treasury.

He then removed many honest older sheriff’s and transferred others to different counties replacing them with men who he knew would carry out his orders without regard for the laws.

King John in the northern counties differed so completely from the normally accepted operations of government that it became unrecognizable amounting as it did to a virtual dictatorship that ruled people with fear and intimidation.

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Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What is the proper way to Recall Corbett. I think you have to get so many signatures by August to pu a question on the ballot? Anyone know?

Anonymous said...

Nader takes Pa. case to D.C.appeals court
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
By Daniel Malloy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
WASHINGTON -- Ralph Nader took his six-year fight over petition signatures in Pennsylvania to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals today, claiming he wasn't given a fair hearing in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Nader's case, in which he was ordered to pay $81,102 in legal fees to Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith LLP after he was booted from the 2004 presidential ballot, is also entwined in the Bonusgate investigation of state employees misusing taxpayer funds.

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, in a then-unprecedented ruling, ordered Mr. Nader to pay the costs for the petition challenge in 2004, nd he's been fighting the ruling ever since. The case shifted to D.C. because Mr. Nader's bank accounts are in Washington.

Mr. Nader's attorney, Oliver Hall, told a three-judge panel today that Pennsylvania courts did not adequately hear out new evidence that emerged from the Bonusgate hearings, including testimony that Reed Smith attorney Efrem Grail knew the petition-challenge effort the attorney led included state employees.

Mr. Hall included this testimony in his final appeal to the state Supreme Court, which struck it down with a one-sentence motion.

Mr. Hall also claimed that the Supreme Court justices' ties to Reed Smith give the "appearance of impropriety."

The firm represented former Chief Justice Ralph Cappy in ethics matters, at one time employed current Chief Justice Ronald Castille, and gave campaign contributions to other justices.

Reed Smith's Nathan Fennessey argued that the case has been amply litigated in Pennsylvania and there is no reason for the D.C. court to overturn rulings from another state. Also, he noted, there have been no criminal charges filed against Mr. Grail.

Court of Appeals Judges Vanessa Ruiz, Stephen H. Glickman and Phyllis D. Thompson will issue a ruling at an undetermined later date.

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