Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"CRIMINALS" IN THEIR MIDST?


We don't know if exonerated Bonusgate defendant Steve Keefer will sue the House Democratic Caucus for back pay, or whether such a suit would be successful.

But his case points out a gaping hole in the caucus' logic - not to mention the monumental hypocrisy of one H. William DeWeese, who has yet to be indicted for his role in the events that led to Keefer's dismissal.

After all, DeWeese allegedly fired Keefer not because he was indicted, but because DeWeese dug up some e-mails that appeared to implicate Keefer in the use of a taxpayer-funded contractor for political work.

As details emerged, DeWeese's profound dishonesty was exposed. Evidence in the Bonusgate case included more than 200 emails showing DeWeese aides Tom Andrews and Kevin Sidella directing and supervising the state contractor's political work. Further, not only e-mails but the very same grand jury presentment outlining the allegations against Keefer show that DeWeese himself used the state consultant for political work.

The Corbett campaign has never explained why it felt the need to mention, in the presentment, that DeWeese "always communicated with Buxton through his campaign account," since it was illegal to use the taxpayer-funded consultant for political work no matter how they communicated.

While we wait for the Corbett campaign to explain why DeWeese and Andrews were not charged (Sidella was granted immunity in exchange for grand jury testimony), we'll let the caucus explain why Andrews and Sidella were not fired along with Keefer. Instead, DeWeese quietly moved Sidella off the state payroll and continued to pay him the equivalent of his state salary out of campaign funds.

The Sidella and Andrews e-mails were not among the evidence that DeWeese turned over, although they certainly would have turned up during DeWeese's search for evidence against his chosen scapegoats. Still, when they became public through court proceedings, consistency would dictate that Andrews be fired and the caucus sever its associations with Sidella. Fat chance.

As the scandal unfolded, the caucus' hypocrisy multiplied. When the Corbett campaign found it politically necessary to find something other than "Bonusgate" with which to charge DeWeese, Corbett also indicted DeWeese aide Sharon Rodavich. Keefer hadn't even been charged when he was fired, but Rodavich continues to draw a caucus paycheck despite facing charges of Conflict of Interest, Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition, Theft of Services, Theft by Deception, Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Funds Received and Criminal Conspiracy.

While Andrews is merely implicated and Rodavich indicted, the caucus continues to employ staff who actually admitted guilt in open court.

For example, aide to Speaker Keith McCall Karen Steiner Blanar testified that she campaigned on state time and destroyed evidence. Research Manager Steve Webb not only admitted campaigning on state time, but confessed in court to perjury. McCall's press secretary, Bob Caton, said he believed his campaign work on state time was a crime even while he was doing it, and he believed his bonus checks were illegal payments for committing those crimes. House staffer Dan Wiedemer, while director of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, oversaw what he said was an illegal opposition research operation, staffed by state employees.

If Keefer was fired merely because of the appearance of wrongdoing, how does the caucus justify the continued employment of those who admitted wrongdoing?

If Keefer manages to get the caucus leaders on a witness stand under oath, perhaps we'll get an answer. But in the meantime we won't hold our breath.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Corbett knows after seeing the Stetler Motion that his own Staff and himself will be held accountable and they have the same criminals within his own midst, within the OAG.

It will come out as further prosecutions move on and Corbett knows he has caught himself now, once a Special Prosecutor is appointted, the OAG Staffers will not continue to to lie for Corbett.

Corbett's problems are just starting.

Anonymous said...

The legislature and senate will have to move tyo a Non-Partisan Staffing of 4 Caucuses as DeWeese has proposed on the Virginia Legsilature Model.

Staffers that testified they broke the law under Imuunity are not protected by Workplace Admissions they broke work rules.

They are At-Will employees and can be dismissed anytime.

This what will happen after all the trials are over.

Anonymous said...

You are right the Stetler motions will follow Corbett into the Governorship and plague his entire administration.

This is why he is now saying Powerful People are after him and once an investigation begins it will reveal far more than the Stetler Motions Factual Evidence.


Corebtt can put forth a Campiagn Face, but in reality he knows what will be revealed, and he should be frighten by his poor choices.

Anonymous said...

What do you think if you get a little distance from this, like say you don't work at the capitol and are just a middle of the road taxpayer? Is it unreasonable that Bonusgate, in nearly all of its incarnations with all of its broken politics, is much more successful in its deterrence of future abuses of power than it is in punishing past wrong doing?

Anonymous said...

It hasn't done a thing to deter anyone... trust me. Everyone there either thinks that A) if they are a Dem, that Corbett is done with them and won't be touched and B)If there are a Republican, they KNOW Corbett won't touch them. Especially in the Senate.

Anonymous said...

Those staffers won't be fired. Those same staffers know to much and could have easily testified about Eachus and the other leaders/members... If they get fired, they will all start talking about EVERYONE, and Eachus (and the rest) knows it.
Maybe a Keefer lawsuit will get them talking... he will have to call them to testify... if the house D's were smart, they would just pay him and hope he goes away, otherwise, they will ALL be dragged through the mud again - by their own doing! Something i'm sure NONE of them want in an election year.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...What do you think if you get a little distance from this, like say you don't work at the capitol and are just a middle of the road taxpayer? Is it unreasonable that Bonusgate, in nearly all of its incarnations with all of its broken politics, is much more successful in its deterrence of future abuses of power than it is in punishing past wrong doing? April 28, 2010 1:36 PM

If it was about Deterrence why was Republican Senator Joan Orie and the Republican Candidate Judges still breaking the very laws Corbett says was illegal and why did Corbett let them get away with it in 2008, 2009, and why in 2010 is Corbett doing the same things????

Why has Corbett not investigated any republican senators and actually hired the staffers with the biggest bonuses paid by the Republicans?????

Corbett knows his own investigation is coming after him now, because he was doing it, and now he claims he will be a victim of powerful people after him?

Detterence is, was, and will be poppycock for Corbett!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...Those staffers won't be fired. Those same staffers know to much and could have easily testified about Eachus and the other leaders/members... If they get fired, they will all start talking about EVERYONE, and Eachus (and the rest) knows it. Maybe a Keefer lawsuit will get them talking... he will have to call them to testify... if the house D's were smart, they would just pay him and hope he goes away, otherwise, they will ALL be dragged through the mud again - by their own doing! Something i'm sure NONE of them want in an election year. April 28, 2010 5:15 PM


You have point, and Corbett will use them to make sure his policies pass as Governor until the Feds remove him.

Bascially, Corbett is blackmailing every legislator on Bonusgate Investigations, and remember he will appoint the next AG if he is Governor!

Anonymous said...

it is time to return to decency and vote for Rohrer and Metcalfe. Two true public servants who will restore decency and morality to politics.

Anonymous said...

Maybe these staff people who committed crimes by their own testimony (Steve Webb, Karen Steiner Blaner, Rich Pronesti, Tom Andrews, Bob Caton, David Bliss) should go, and to be consistent certainly Sharon Radovich, but rather than dwell on the staffers - how about an explanation from their employers: Rep. Eachus, Rep. McCall, Rep. Dermody, Rep. DeWeese, Rep. Mann?

Anonymous said...

Now that you mention it, it is an amazing coincidence that almost all the people DeWeese fired ended up getting arrested, while others were given the opportunity to testify in exchange for immunity. Why, it's almost as though DeWeese himself decided who would be arrested and who would be spared.

Signor Ferrari said...

If you are familiar with the case, you know that nothing else explains why some staff were charged and others were not, particularly with regard to the LCOMM effort. From what we can glean from the evidence that's been made public, those who were most deeply involved in LCOMM were not charged.

Anonymous said...

Eventually, the deal that was struck will be exposed. DeWeese came close to admitting it when he was arrested - and if he loses his reelection, he definitely will expose Corbett because he'll have nothing to lose at that point. Corbett will never admit it - that's part of the deal - but it's being talked about and will come out sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Now that you mention it, it is an amazing coincidence that almost all the people DeWeese fired ended up getting arrested, while others were given the opportunity to testify in exchange for immunity. Why, it's almost as though DeWeese himself decided who would be arrested and who would be spared.

Only the staff that was indicted were fired...not saying right or wrong, just saying.

Signor Ferrari said...

"Only the staff that was indicted were fired..."

No one had been indicted when DeWeese fired the original seven staffers. The firings were in November 2007. The indictments were in July 2008. Most of the grand jury testimony was gathered after the original seven firings.

How could DeWeese have known then who would be arrested and who would be given immunity?

Yrick said...

So tell wise one what will be the policy towards those that plead guilty to crimes however were given immunity?

What should be done?

Should they all be fired?

Anonymous said...

"While Andrews is merely implicated and Rodavich indicted, the caucus continues to employ staff who actually admitted guilt in open court."

Who has the power to fire these people?

Rodavich got the ax.

Anonymous said...

The Beaver Initiative for Growth trail is coming up. You planning to blame DeWeese for that one, too?

Signor Ferrari said...

Why, do you have evidence that DeWeese was involved in Beaver Initiative for Growth, too?

Anonymous said...

The Judas of the Legislature that goes on KDKA Radio Marty Griffin to preach how his former colleagues are corrupt and Frankie had a Saint Paul Revelation, now is arrested again, and endanger of losing his Pension.....FRANK LAGROTTA.

Good to see Frankie cannot blame this on Veon, DeWeese, Eachus, Perzel and Corbett, and sad to see it happen to anyone even to Frankie.

LaGrotta arrested on drug charge
By: J.D. Prose
Beaver County Times

Wednesday May 5, 2010 10:03 PM
BEAVER — Former state Rep. Frank LaGrotta, who’s still on probation for pleading guilty to conflict-of-interest charges in 2008, was arrested Wednesday by Beaver police for trying to get an altered prescription filled at a borough drugstore.

LaGrotta, 51, of 777 Adams Ave., Ellwood City, went to the Rite-Aid pharmacy on Third Street around 12:30 p.m. and submitted a prescription for 180 Xanax pills, Beaver police Detective Jim Degori said.

Degori said it was “very obvious” that the prescription was altered, and pharmacy employees immediately called police. Xanax is used to treat anxiety disorders, anxiety associated with mild depression and panic attacks.

LaGrotta had a valid prescription, but the amount of pills had been changed, Degori said. Degori did not know Wednesday how many pills LaGrotta’s prescription was originally for.

Degori said LaGrotta was cooperative as he was taken into custody and then driven to the Beaver Police Department. LaGrotta will be charged by summons, possibly as early as today, Beaver Police Chief Dan Madgar said.

After speaking with state probation officials, borough police released LaGrotta around 2 p.m., and an officer drove him back to his car, which was still parked at Rite-Aid.

“I didn’t do a damn thing,” LaGrotta told a Times reporter while sitting in the driver’s seat of his white Hyundai.

LaGrotta said the prescription had been in his car since April 14. If the prescription was altered, LaGrotta said, someone else must have done it because the prescription was untouched for nearly a month.

Also, LaGrotta said that he went to the Beaver pharmacy because he was in town for a doctor’s appointment.

Advertisement LaGrotta served 20 years in the state Legislature before losing to state Rep. Jaret Gibbons, D-10, Franklin Township, in the 2006 Democratic primary.

In November 2007, LaGrotta was charged in Harrisburg with two felony counts of conflict of interest by Attorney General Tom Corbett’s office. Prosecutors said LaGrotta put his sister and niece on the state payroll, but they did not do any work.

LaGrotta pleaded guilty in February 2008 to the two felonies and was sentenced to six months of house arrest, 30 months of probation and 500 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay $27,000 in restitution for the money paid to his relatives and fined $10,000.

But LaGrotta got to keep his $36,000 annual pension. He has repeatedly insisted that he pleaded guilty only to protect his sister and niece, who each pleaded no contest to false swearing before a grand jury.

By August 2008, LaGrotta was off house arrest and serving his community service by doing manual labor for Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Ellwood City.

LaGrotta was last in the news in November 2009 when word leaked that he had written a book about his prosecution. He also started a blog last year on which he comments about local, state and national politics.

Interviewed about his book in November, LaGrotta told The Times that he sought counseling after his ordeal and was put on medication after being diagnosed with depression.

“I struggled for many, many, many months with what occurred,” he said, “because I knew that what they were saying happened, didn’t happen.”