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.