Wednesday, April 7, 2010
THE ORIE CONSPIRACY
Most of the allegations of illegal campaign activity contained in the grand jury presentment against Sen. Jane Orie are pretty banal. It does take a hilarious turn when Orie starts to think she might get caught and tries to gaslight her staffers.
But for the most part what went on in Orie's office went on in most legislative offices. The difference is that it all stopped in January of 2007, after Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett announced he was investigating electioneering in all four caucuses.
But at least one Senate Republican kept on keepin' on, almost as though she knew the Corbett campaign would look the other way.
To us, the most interesting portion of the Orie presentment is what happened after intern Jennifer Knapp Rioja tried to report her suspicions to the Corbett campaign:
"Rioja was told by the person with whom she spoke at the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General that her complaint should be directed instead to the Office of the District Attorney of Allegheny County."
Here's Corbett in the Patriot-News in February of 2008, begging the public to do exactly what Rioja tried to do: "People have to come forward. We need evidence. If people have evidence, pick up the phone and call. Come and see my agents."
And here's Corbett on PCN in January 2009: "As we obtain additional information, we always consider other charges against other individuals. And, that being the case, I would suggest to you, Larry, if you do have that information you forward it to the office of attorney general ... I can get very tired when I hear these people complain about that we haven’t charged other individuals if they have information and they haven’t passed it along. So, I’m going to urge you, Larry, to pass that information along.”
It's obvious that the Corbett campaign simply has not been conducting any sort of investigation of Senate Republicans for the last 3 1/2 years. News that Senate Republicans had been subpoenaed for records was leaked in February of 2008. According to the Orie presentment, Orie's campaign material resided on caucus servers until November 2009. If the Corbett campaign were looking, there's no way they wouldn't have found it. Ergo, they weren't looking.
According to the Orie presentment, staff and former staff clamored to reveal what they knew about illegal campaign activity in Orie's office after word leaked out about the investigation. If the Corbett campaign had interviewed a single one of these staffers, there's no way they wouldn't have heard what they eventually told the Allegheny County grand jury. Ergo, they never interviewed the staffers.
It's disturbing that the Corbett campaign has been lying about investigating the Senate Republicans. Really, really disturbing. But what's even more disturbing is that Orie clearly knew that Corbett wasn't investigating the caucus, or she never would have been so brazen.
We at CasablancaPA often chide the Capitol press corps for their laziness and gullibility. But, if they let Corbett slide on this one, they are guilty of nothing less than participating in conspiracy to obstruct the truth.