Monday, April 19, 2010

DOS TO FINA: YOU'RE WRONG

Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina is wrong. He is so wrong we believe that he is being forced by gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett to erroneously interpret an otherwise straightforward campaign law.

Corbett made over a hundred calls (that can be documented) from his campaign funded cell phone to taxpayer funded staff at the Office of Attorney General while they were on state time in their taxpayer funded offices. (Patriot News 2/5/10)

Based on Corbett's very own broad interpretation of the Habay decision, these phone calls show that Corbett is violating the very same laws he has indicted and prosecuted multiple state legislators and their staff members for breaking.

In a cynical move to avoid being prosecuted himself, Corbett, his campaign and his crack legal team have repeatedly said that, while those phone calls were made from a campaign cell phone, the calls were not campaign calls. Rather, the calls were official taxpayer business.

Here is Fina last Friday regarding the legality of Corbett using his campaign funded phone to conduct anything other than campaign business:
"Using a campaign telephone to call home, to call for a pizza, to call your office to check in or to call your mother is not a crime." (Post Gazette 4/17/10)
Well, Frank, you're wrong. Here is Charlie Young, the official spokesperson of the Pennsylvania Department of State, saying how wrong you are:
“If they’re using campaign funds for anything other than to influence the outcome of an election, then they’re violating campaign finance and reporting law.” (Norristown Times Herald 4/19/10)
It doesn't take a genius to read this statute and understand how very right the Department of State is and how very wrong Frank Fina is, but don't take our word for it. Read it for yourself.

Section 1634.1 of the Pennsylvania election Code, 25 P.S 3254.1 provides that:
No candidate, chairman or treasurer of any political committee shall make or agree to make any expenditure or incur any liability except as provided in Section 1621 (d).
"Expenditure" is defined in Section 1621(d) of the Election Code as follows:
(1) the payment, distribution, loan or advancement of money or any valuable thing by a candidate, political committee or other person for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election; (2) the payment, distribution, loan, advance or transfer of money or other valuable thing between or among political committees; (3) the providing of a service or other valuable thing for the purpose of influencing the outcome of a nomination or election of any person to any public office to be voted for in this Commonwealth; or (4) the payment or providing money or other valuable thing by any person other than a candidate or political committee, to compensate any person for services rendered to a candidate or political committee.
We are shocked that an Ivy League educated attorney like Fina can't read this fairly simple law correctly. That's why we're pretty certain Corbett's taxpayer funded campaign manager Brian Nutt or his taxpayer funded spokesman Kevin Harley are pulling his strings on this.

We wonder if Fina will continue selling out to Corbett's political ambitions or if he'll listen to his conscience and report Corbett, Nutt and Harley to the US Department of Justice.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why hasn,t a committee of citizens formed and filed charges againsy
t Corbett or organized a Recall?

Isn,t anyone out there awake. Well, wake up bewfore it's too late because if you let Corbett get away with whjat he is doing n ow, it will be too late to stop him when he sits in the big red chair.

Anonymous said...

Where is the Supreme Grand Inquisitor when we need him?

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know what time it is???

Anonymous said...

Frank Fina will some day be wearing Handcuffs and become an Immunity Witness against Tom Corbett or be blamed by Tom Corbett, eithjer way, Frank Fina is on the record with so many changes in his remarks he is a walking contradiction.

Anonymous said...

What is needed is a new Judge and Special Prosecutor one without connections to his party or any candidates.

Pennsylvania needs a Judge and Special Prosecutor that have great foresight for the future, he has a great feel for that, he's a great listener and has a great feel for the investigations and trial.

They must always have an objective viewpoint.

They must see things clearly and cleanly and not be swayed.

They must be very objective when they look at evidence and the conduct of the investigations.

And they must make an assessment whether a defendant, immunity witness, attorney or prosecutor, or investigator has conducted themselves properly at all times.

Those are qualities not everybody possesses."

A Motion to replace Judge Lewis should be made before any further trials go forth!

Anonymous said...

Forget that. Where was veon? Did he forget he had court today? Or has he skipped the country?

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?

Anonymous said...

I have heard various comments from those who appeared before grand jury. Most have said it was not Frank but somewone else who preped who was least in terms of threats, swearing, etc. compared to Tom's other flunkies. Now I am not so sure. Some have said it was Frank whose was the most foul mouthed.
Giving him the benefit of the doubted, I would still want to know who interrogated mosted fiercely, given that these buffons did not bother to check what was per diem and what was not.
Frank, please come clean before the appeal court finnds reasaon to put you behind bars.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I have heard various comments from those who appeared before grand jury. Most have said it was not Frank but somewone else who preped who was least in terms of threats, swearing, etc. compared to Tom's other flunkies. Now I am not so sure. Some have said it was Frank whose was the most foul mouthed.
Giving him the benefit of the doubted, I would still want to know who interrogated mosted fiercely, given that these buffons did not bother to check what was per diem and what was not.
Frank, please come clean before the appeal court finnds reasaon to put you behind bars.
April 19, 2010 11:26 PM.....

I meant Frank would be the fall guy among Corbett's Foul Mouthed thugs!

Frank cannot be proud of how other Prosecutors acted and it they that will blame Frank.

Anonymous said...

iam Costopoulos argues that the core of the charges revolve around the state's conflict-of-interest law which he said should not be employed for criminal prosecutions.

"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," Mr. Costopoulos wrote.

Anonymous said...

Recommendations for U.S. attorney sent to White House
By Nathan Gorenstein

Inquirer Staff Writer

The lengthy process of selecting a new United States attorney for the Philadelphia region, now almost 18 months old, is in the hands of the White House, says U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.
The office, which oversees federal criminal and civil cases in nine counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania, is occupied on an acting basis by veteran prosecutor Michael L. Levy.

Sources have told The Inquirer that Casey and fellow Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter have nominated a former federal prosecutor, Zane Memeger, for appointment by President Obama.

Memeger, now a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius L.L.P., spent much of his career as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District, which includes Philadelphia. He did not respond to a request for comment.

Neither senator has commented on Memeger, but this week the Towanda Daily Review, in far northeast Pennsylvania, reported that Casey had reiterated that nominees for federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania had been forwarded to Obama.

"After many, many months of people saying, 'Have you guys done your work yet?', I can say clearly that it's in the hands of the White House," he said. "We're hoping that one, if not two of the three, will be in the near term. I don't know what that [near term] means."

Three Pennsylvania posts have to be filled - the Eastern District, which includes Philadelphia; the Middle District; and the Western District, which encompasses Pittsburgh.

Larry Smar, the Washington-based communications director for Casey, confirmed in an e-mail that "recommendations" had been fowarded to the White House.

Specter's office distributed a January 2010 letter about the selection process that said, "The recommendations made to the White House will produce nominees committed to the rule of law and will ensure tough prosecutions of those who violate that law."

Traditionally, senators have waited for completion of a background check and a White House announcement before discussing a nominee they had forwarded to the president.

A number of federal prosecutors' slots around the nation are filled with acting appointees, and for months attorneys in Philadelphia have expressed puzzlement at the long delay in announcing a local nominee, who then has to be confirmed by the Senate.

"I think it's somewhat surprising . . . they have taken this long for them to get through this process," said Michael Engle, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "Having said that, the installation of Mike Levy as the acting U.S. attorney has provided substantial stability and strong leadership."

The office has about 130 prosecutors and 105 support staff.

Anonymous said...

Zane David Memeger: Nominee for United States Attorney, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Zane Memeger is currently a Partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP where he has been since 2006. Previously, Mr. Memeger had served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, from 1995 until 2006. From 1991 until 1995, Mr. Memeger was an Associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP. Mr. Memeger graduated from James Madison University in 1986 and from University of Virginia School of Law in 1991.


Peter J. Smith: Nominee for United States Attorney, Middle District of Pennsylvania

Peter Smith, is currently retired. Prior to his retirement, Mr. Smith was the Deputy State Treasurer for the Pennsylvania Treasury Department from 2005 to 2009. Mr. Smith was the Deputy Auditor General for Performance Audits in the Department of the Auditor General for the state of Pennsylvania from 1997 to 2005. From 1994 to 1997, he served as the Deputy Chief of the Environmental Crimes Section in the United States Department of Justice. From 1992 until 1994, Mr. Smith was an attorney for Vaira and Associates, P.C. From 1991 to 1992, he was an attorney with Buchanan Ingersoll.

Mr. Smith also served as the State Inspector General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1987 to 1991. From 1976 to 1987, Mr. Smith worked in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania as an Assistant United States Attorney, where he served as the First Assistant United States Attorney and from 1986 to 1987, and Chief of the Criminal Division from 1985 to 1986.

In 1976, Mr. Smith was an Assistant Attorney General in the Attorney General’s Office for the State of Pennsylvania in the Office of the Philadelphia Special Prosecutor. From 1973 to 1976, Mr. Smith was a Staff Enforcement Attorney in the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and he served as an Assistant District Attorney in the District Attorney’s Office for the city of Philadelphia from 1971 to 1973.

Prior to entering law school, Mr. Smith served in the United States Naval Reserve, from 1962 to 1966, where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant (Junior Grade). Mr. Smith graduated from King’s College in 1962 and Georgetown University Law Center in 1971

Anonymous said...

Can Corbett be unbiased in probe of Delco nominating petitions?
By WILLIAM BENDER
Philadelphia Daily News

benderw@phillynews.com 215-854-5255

Can state Attorney General Tom Corbett's agents conduct an impartial investigation of Delaware County GOP officials who submitted nominating petitions for Corbett's gubernatorial campaign?

Because that's where their probe of former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan's congressional petitions could take them.

John F. McNichol, the longtime chairman of the Upper Darby Republican Party, lists himself as the circulator of hundreds of voter signatures gathered last month to place Corbett on the Republican primary ballot for governor.

McNichol confirmed this week that he had signed a sworn affidavit identifying himself as the circulator of Meehan signatures in Ridley Park, even though someone else had circulated them.

And McNichol might have done the same thing with dozens - possibly hundreds - of Corbett signatures.

That type of activity, depending on the circumstances, could expose him to criminal prosecution. The forms that McNichol signed were notarized by a top official in the Delaware County Republican Party.

Yesterday, several voters in Ridley Park who signed the petitions that McNichol submitted for Corbett's gubernatorial campaign told the Daily News that neighborhood resident Steve Valerio was the circulator, not McNichol.

"It was Steve," said Warren Thomas, who signed petitions that Valerio circulated for Meehan, Corbett and Republican state Rep. Nick Miccarelli. Valerio, who could not be reached last night, took credit for circulating the Miccarelli petitions, but apparently gave the Meehan and Corbett petitions to McNichol, who then claimed to have circulated them by signing his own name.

McNichol said on Wednesday that, to the best of his knowledge, Valerio had simply forgotten to sign the Meehan petition. McNichol could not be reached yesterday for an explanation of why he also signed petitions for Corbett that he apparently didn't circulate.

It is unlikely that McNichol would have gone door-to-door collecting hundreds of signatures for Meehan and Corbett over a four-day period, as he is 73 and recovering from an extended hospital stay.

The petitions that McNichol signed were notarized by Carol J. Miller, vice chairwoman of the Delaware County GOP's Executive Committee. Miller could not be reached for comment last night.

Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said state agents would continue to investigate forgeries and other evidence of fraud on Meehan's nominating petitions that were purportedly circulated by Paul Summers, a McNichol loyalist with a checkered past.

Harley said the revelation that McNichol listed himself as a circulator for Corbett's signatures did not necessarily create a conflict of interest for Corbett's office.

"This investigation is being conducted by career agents and prosecutors," Harley said. "The campaign for governor is completely separate from the office of the Attorney General."

Democratic state Rep. Bryan Lentz, who is running against Meehan in the Delaware County-based 7th Congressional District, is asking the Justice Department to investigate.

Delco GOP Chairman Andy Reilly said last night that McNichol's signing petitions that he didn't personally circulate "does not appear to be a criminal issue."

Anonymous said...

CONTINUED FROM ABOVE AS GIFTS FROM THE GODS FOR THE DEMOCRATS AS CORBETT SITS AND WAITS TO INVESTIGATES....

* Robert Cornett of Drexel Hill said he signed a Meehan petition that Summers claims to have circulated. But Cornett said he was told it was a petition to reduce local property taxes. And the circulator, Cornett says, was a man in his early 20s - not Summers, who is 58.

"That was not the guy that was at the door, I can guarantee you that," Cornett said of Summers.

* Kathleen Pride, who lives three blocks from Meehan and sees him at church every Sunday, said she would have signed the petition, except no one brought it to her door. Yet, someone signed her name.

"The whole thing is really weird," she said. "I can't imagine Pat Meehan having anything to do with that."

Summers, a strong ally of McNichol's, claims to have gathered 643 signatures on March 6 and 7, which, by the Lentz campaign's calculations, means he averaged one signature every 4 1/2 minutes for 48 hours straight.

In addition to the apparent Meehan forgeries, the Daily News has identified voters who say their names were forged on petitions Summers claims to have circulated for Republican state House candidate Maureen Carey.

Additionally, Summers' own name is spelled three ways on Meehan's petitions, raising the question of whether other party officials were involved. Summers has not returned phone calls from the Daily News seeking comment.

Lentz's campaign says it has evidence that other Republican circulators also forged signatures.

He has scheduled a news conference today at the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, calling for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate.

"The Meehan campaign and the Republican machine in Delaware County are one in the same, and the petition drive that they ran was done with a general disdain for the law," Lentz said.


"Pat believes that any circulator who engaged in criminal activity should be held accountable, but the Lentz campaign's accusation that Pat was involved in overseeing the signatures is just completely false."

Peterson said petition circulators, not the candidate, are ultimately "responsible for the signatures on their petitions."

This week, Magisterial District Judge David Murphy, an Aston Township Republican, was charged with hundreds of felony counts for allegedly forging names on his own nominating petitions last year.

Anonymous said...

Petition fraud could give Meehan a bad name
By WILLIAM BENDER
Philadelphia Daily News

benderw@phillynews.com 215-854-5255

It began last month with one forged signature.

Terry Bradley, the wife of an Upper Darby Democratic campaign strategist, said she didn't sign former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan's nominating petition to run as the Republican candidate in Delaware County's 7th Congressional District.

And she's not the only one.

A deeper look at Meehan's petitions reveals what appears to be a pattern of potentially fraudulent activity that could result in criminal charges.

Last month, after Meehan's neighbors in Drexel Hill told him someone had forged their names on his petitions, he gave county District Attorney G. Michael Green a stack of questionable petitions purportedly circulated by Upper Darby GOP activist Paul Summers.

State Rep. Bryan Lentz, the likely Democratic nominee in the congressional race, is trying to get Meehan kicked off the ballot, claiming that thousands of Meehan's signatures are defective.

Even if Meehan survives the court challenge, the criminal investigation into his petitions could dog him for months and hinder the National Republican Congressional Committee's efforts to take back the seat being vacated by Democrat Joe Sestak.

Green, who contributed $1,000 to Meehan's campaign last year, referred the case this week to state Attorney General Tom Corbett.

His investigators won't have to dig too deep before red flags start popping up:

* Rita Lamb's name appears on Meehan's petition - three times. But she told the Daily News she didn't sign any of them. "No I did not sign them, absolutely not," she said.

* Domenic Pino said that he signed Meehan's petition this month and that it had been circulated by Steve Valerio, a Ridley Park official. But John McNichol, the longtime chairman of the Upper Darby GOP, is listed as the circulator on that petition.

McNichol conceded yesterday that he hadn't been the circulator, yet he signed a sworn affidavit claiming that he had been.

"That petition was dropped off," McNichol said. "To the best of my knowledge, [Valerio] said, 'I forgot to sign the petition.' "

CONTINUED BELOW IN THE DEPTHS OF HADES....

Anonymous said...

NOW IS FRANK FINA INTERPRETAION THAT COMMONWEALTH STATE PHONES ON STATE TIME PAID FOR BY STATE TAXPAYERS ACCURATE WHEN YOU READ THIS PENNSYLVANIA LAW?

Conflict of Interest:

No public official or public employee shall engage in conduct that constitutes a
“conflict of interest,” broadly defined as use of the authority of one’s office, employment, or confidential information received through official duties for the substantial (more than “de minimis”) private
pecuniary benefit of himself,5 a member of his immediate family, or a business of which he or a member
of his immediate family is associated.

See Bixler v. State Ethics Com’n, 847 A.2d 785 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004) (township supervisor’s action of suggesting at a public
meeting that township vehicles could be taken to the auto repair business where he was employed fell within the de minimis
exclusion since the auto repair business only received $561.77 in net profit and there was an insignificant effect on both the
township and the business).

Seeking Improper Influence:

No one shall offer an official, employee, candidate, nominee, or member of his immediate family or business with which he or his family is associated anything of monetary value with the understanding that any official action or judgment of the official would be influenced thereby.

Accepting Improper Influence:

None of the above-mentioned parties shall solicit or accept anything of monetary value based on an understanding that they would be influenced in the discharge of their public duties thereby.

NOW WHY DID JUDGE LEWIS DISMISS JOHN LOCK MOTION, AND WHY DID NOT JUDGE LEWIS HAND OVER SUCH EVIDENCE TO A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR OR US ATTORNEY'S OFFICE TO INVESTIGATE TOM CORBETT CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS?

Anonymous said...

The State Ethics Commission is also created by the act.

Perhaps the most important power of the Commission is issuing orders and findings pursuant to ethics investigations. The Commission may hold hearings, take testimony, issue subpoenas, and compel the attendance of witnesses.
See 65 Pa.C.S. § 1107.

Should the Commission find a violation of the act that results in financial gain, it can order restitution plus interest
to the appropriate governing body and make recommendations to law enforcement officials for criminal
prosecution or dismissal of charges.

Investigations must be made within five years of the alleged
occurrence of a violation of the act.

Penalties for violation of the act are serious. Anyone who engages in a conflict of interest or who offers, seeks, or solicits improper influence commits a felony and, upon conviction, may pay a fine of not more
than $10,000 and/or may be imprisoned for not more than five years.

Anyone who engages in any other restricted activity or violates the financial disclosure provisions of the act commits a misdemeanor and could be fined up to $1,000 and/or may be imprisoned for not more than one year.

Furthermore, anyone found to have made financial gain as a result of a violation of the act “shall pay a sum of money equal to three times the amount of the financial gain resulting from such violation into the State Treasury or
the treasury of the political subdivision.”
9 65 Pa.C.S. § 1109(c).

The act also provides for remedies for anyone harmed by a person who engages in wrongful use of the act
by filing a frivolous complaint, including fees and costs, defamation damages, actual pecuniary damages, and damages for emotional distress.

Anonymous said...

By KEITH PHUCAS
Times Herald Staff

COURTHOUSE — When elected officials claim campaign expenditures, they are required by law to show how the spending is campaign-related, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.

For the past two months, Montgomery County commissioner Chairman James R. Matthews has been challenged to show how leasing a car is a legitimate campaign expense.

The commissioner pays monthly to lease a Ford Taurus he claims as a campaign expenditure.

When pressed to justify how he can use campaign contributions for monthly car payments, Matthews has defended the practice by declaring he’s always campaigning, “24/7.”

When the Department of State was queried about the legitimacy of making such a claim, spokesman Charlie Young said an elected official is obligated to prove the assertion that he’s effectively campaigning night and day.

“The burden of proof would be on the official to show that he’s campaigning ‘24/7,’” Young said.

According to Pennsylvania’s campaign finance reporting law, an “expenditure” is defined as any payment, loan or “valuable thing” by a candidate, political committee or other persons for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election.

Friends of Jim Matthews campaign expenditure statements show a $519.49 monthly lease payments for a 2008 Taurus beginning in December 2007, weeks after the commissioner was reelected. Other submitted expenditures include payments for car insurance, gasoline and maintenance for his so-called “campaign car,” as a notation on a car repair bill dubbed the vehicle. The bill to replace the car’s mirror, which bears the name and address of Matthews’ family mortgage business, was paid for with a check from his campaign committee.

PLAYING HARDBALL CONTINUED BELOW....

Anonymous said...

PLAYING HARDBALL CONTINUED FROM ABOVE.....NOT SEEN ON THE CHRIS MATTEWS SHOW....

The commissioner’s campaign expenditure statements also reflect monthly Discover Card payments, with some billing statements listing gas purchases, presumably for the Taurus, not only in the local area but also in Hammonton, N.J. and Warwick, R.I..

When asked in an e-mail to explain how the Rhode Island gas purchase was specifically related to his campaign as a Montgomery County commissioner, his answer, which refers to “my campaign car,” didn’t specify what his political business was in the New England state.

“Yes, the damn thing requires gas. Why Rhode Island? When the law requires a daily diary, you won’t have me to kick around anymore,” Matthews wrote in a March 25 e-mail message.

The chairman’s campaign treasurer, county Solicitor Barry Miller, believes Pennsylvania law supports such use of vehicles by elected officials; however, neither commissioners Bruce L. Castor or Joseph M. Hoeffel claim their car payments as campaign expenditures.

Officials who use campaign money to pay for cars must show the spending is related to getting themselves or other candidates elected to office, according to state campaign law.

“If they’re using campaign funds for anything other than to influence the outcome of an election, then they’re violating campaign finance and reporting law,” Young said.

SO MUCH FOR FRANK FINA MISINTERPRETATIONS OF THE LAWS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA!

NOW INVESTIGATE TOM CORBETT FRANK, OR TURN YOUR BOSS IN TO THE STATE POLICE?

Anonymous said...

Pa. Lawmakers Probe Philadelphia's ''Broken'' Courts System


by KYW's John Ostapkovich

Pennsylvania state senators seeking solutions to problems in Philadelphia's criminal justice system heard conflicting opinions on Monday of how bad it is, and whether it's troubled by anything other than lack of funding.

State senator Michael Stack began the Judiciary Committee hearing with a recitation of disturbing statistics from the Inquirer series that prompted it, and a comment:

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is insane."

Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice Seamus McCaffery (right), the lead-off witness, waved a report on the courts done 32 years ago, saying that much of what it urged by way of reform is still needed today:

"This is not something that we're looking to just quickly go through. This has been now over 30 years, and the same problems exist."

McCaffery says the courts themselves are looking at several areas:

"Witness intimidation, bail issues, Municipal Court and how it functions, and last but not least information technology."

W. Webster Keogh, the administrative judge running Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, says things are working pretty well, and Ellen Greenlee of the Defender Association of Philadelphia says the newspaper articles were wrong:

"Municipal Court is not broken, but it made good headlines. It's interesting to note that since the Inquirer's business is in a tailspin, they've now decided to have a new business -- which is managing the Philadelphia courts."

Anonymous said...

TThink about this: Years ago, Tom Corbett delivered political signs to Jeff Habay's district legislative oFfice. (on state time?...to a tax-funded oFfice?...Did he drive a state-leased car?

Anonymous said...

Is ROCK THE CAPITAL the same group that was investigating the questionable dealings of Jonathan Saidel running for Lt. Governor?
Shouldn't they be questioning Corbett, too?

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