Friday, May 28, 2010


Just as we suspected.

Unless we're missing something, every media outlet that covered the preliminary hearing for John Perzel & company missed the most interesting element of the story.

This may be the first time in state history a prosecutor takes a defendant to trial on accusations of destroying evidence after the prosecutor himself opened the door for that destruction.

Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett belatedly brought about a billion charges against Team Perzel, after the political reality finally dawned on him. But the accusations of obstruction fascinate us most - and most offend Corbett himself: "Obstruction's the worst," he huffed at the press conference to announce the billion charges.

Corbett's like a golfer that accidentally drives a ball toward your head, screams "fore!" and then gives you "two for flinching."

It's not just that Corbett gave the House Republican eight months advance notice that he might come nosing around the caucus to see if they left anything incriminating lying around. He explicitly green-lighted the replacement of the computers where that incriminating evidence might reside.

As the Patriot-News reported, "all GOP desktop computers were replaced from July 17 to Sept. 6 [2007] at the Capitol." And, as the Tribune-Review reported, "The attorney general's investigators were consulted about the changeover of computers."

Unfortunately for both Corbett and caucus staff - but only one (rank-and-file) lawmaker - Corbett later decided he was going to need the data on those computers after all. Because Capitolwire was suggesting Corbett's political ties to the Republican legislature might inhibit the investigation. And The Morning Call was calling for an independent prosecutor.

Why would Corbett allow the caucus to ditch its computers in the middle of a criminal investigation? Or meet, along with his campaign manager, with a major target? Or allow another target to host a fund-raiser?

And what kind of investigation was it, anyway, if after nearly a year Corbett didn't have enough facts, or understand where the investigation was going?

Given Corbett's urge to throw people in jail if he even thinks they're asking inconvenient questions, it's unlikely the public will get answers. Even if someone did work up the nerve, he'd probably just duck back into his sofa fort of grand jury secrecy. Lord knows what those OAG party animals are hiding behind that veil. We already know they were improperly using the grand jury to gather information for a sentencing hearing. For all we know, Corbett could be having the jurors filling out his tax return, or washing his cars. Or working in his gubernatorial campaign. Oh, wait, that's right: we already know about that.

Monday, May 24, 2010



"If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows that he can choose his defendants. Therein is the most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people that he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted. With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him. It is in this realm—in which the prosecutor picks some person whom he dislikes or desires to embarrass, or selects some group of unpopular persons and then looks for an offense, that the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies."

-- Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson.


We are endlessly amused by the timidity of the Patriot-News editorial board.
But by running for governor while continuing as attorney general during a time of unprecedented scandal investigations, more and more people are concerned there is at the very least a perception that some decisions are political. (Patriot-News, 5/23/10)
"Oh, we're not saying he's abusing his office. But we can see why others might think that."

Cowboy up, wimps, and call a spade a spade. You know, it's okay to disapprove of Corbett's tactics. It doesn't mean you approve of anything he's accused other people of doing.

Public discourse is not a hockey game. You don't have to pick one side or another. You're allowed to see the abuses on both sides.

But really; this part is downright ignorant:
We support Attorney General Tom Corbett’s efforts to fight corruption in Harrisburg and have applauded the charges he has brought against high-ranking elected officials and their staff.

Really? High-ranking elected officials? The highest-ranking elected official Corbett originally indicted was a sophomore rank-and-filer (who was acquitted on all charges). Only a fool would believe his indictments of Bill DeWeese and Steve Stetler (who wasn't an elected official at all when he was indicted, much less a high-ranking one) were anything but damage control.

Both were indicted only after newspapers exposed the evidence Corbett had overlooked. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/19/09) (Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/6/09)

When Corbett finally realized political expediency required that he indict some Republicans, he chose as the sole target among elected officials another rank-and-filer, whose reputation was indelibly stained with the unpopular pay raise vote of 2005. Not a member of leadership, and certainly not someone who held influence in the legislature any longer, despite the lingering aura of his former position.

Corbett has quite carefully chosen not to indict any "high-ranking elected officials." He's going to need them in his debt when he's elected governor.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Let's just suppose, for argument's sake, that our li'l ol' blog here were being written by a "contrite" defendant. Would his contrition blind him to Tom Corbett's behavior?

Would a contrite defendant not wonder why e-mails and testimony exposing Bill DeWeese's involvement in bonuses, "LCOMM" and the Nader and Romanelli petition challenges didn't lead Corbett to indict DeWeese in connection with bonuses, "LCOMM" and the Nader and Romanelli petition challenges. Mario Cattabiani and Angela Couloumbis of the Philadelphia Inquirer wondered, and we're pretty sure no one's indicted them. (Yet.)

Would a defendant's contrition change the fact that Corbett didn't subpoena House Republicans until at least eight months into his well-publicized, leaky-as-a-sieve investigation, and only after after critical editorials appeared on Capitolwire and in The Morning Call? That he and his campaign manager met secretly with John Perzel just weeks before the subpoenas were issued? Or that Corbett himself green-lighted a computer changeover months before issuing the subpoenas? The reporters who noted these curious facts are not convicted felons. (Yet.)

Would a contrite defendant fail to notice that Corbett sent agents from the Attorney General's office to intimidate a state representative who criticized him in a newspaper article? Chris Brennan of the Philadelphia Daily News noticed, and he's not a criminal defendant. (Yet.)

And we suppose nobody but a unrepentant defendant would wonder how Corbett's investigation of the Senate Republicans failed to uncover the campaign operation Jane Orie allegedly ran out of her district office? Laura Vecsey of the Patriot-News wonders, and Corbett hasn't charged her with a felony. (Yet.)

The hundreds of phone calls between Corbett's state staff, on state phones during state time, and campaign workers on their campaign-paid phones, would be of no interest to a contrite defendant? Matt Kemeney of the Patriot-News seems interested, and he's neither a contrite nor unrepentant convict. (Yet.)

If Corbett thinks its okay to put his critics in jail as long as he's convicted them of a real crime first, how short a slide is it to pursuing criminal charges against people because they are critics? Keep in mind, Brett Cott was on record calling Corbett's investigation a "witch hunt" nine months before he was arrested, and a month before Bill DeWeese fired him.

We are outraged, of course, by Corbett's attempt to learn the identity of a critic in order to punish the critic with jail time. But we are baffled by his argument that anything on this blog demonstrates a "lack of contrition." Does contrition make you stupid?

Thanks again to "TN2010" for the illustration.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


The harsh sentence of the first defendant in the Bonusgate case is meant to send a message - not to any state workers out there who might be thinking of sending an e-mail on the taxypayer dime, but to the defendants who are awaiting trial.

The message is this: don't exercise your right to a trial before a jury of your peers. Say whatever Tom Corbett wants you to say. Admit to whatever Tom Corbett wants you to admit. Spare him the embarrassment of sending his inept prosecutors to court, where you stand a very good chance of being acquitted of most or all of the charges against you.

The judge really does not want to sit through another one of Tom Corbett's incompetent, six-week dog-and-pony shows, and he would really like you to spare him that.

The thing is, if you go to trial, Tom Corbett will have to show you the evidence against you. And he would probably prefer to keep that evidence to himself. After all, that evidence might reveal something like, oh, say, his main collaborator against you is actually a ringleader in the crimes for which you're being prosecuted. (And also that the collaborator is a total whack-job.) It might expose how he overlooked evidence against other people and then he might have to go back and indict them, too, just to save face. He may even have to come up with a whole different case against some of them, because something is keeping him from charging them in the matters for which you yourselves are indicted.

And all of that would be awfully inconvenient and time-consuming for him. He's got a lot on his plate, what with running for governor and all.

Look, Bonusgate defendants: chances are pretty good that Tom Corbett's going to be Governor. You don't want to make him mad. Look at what he does with the power he has as Attorney General. Dragging people in front of a grand jury for any old reason he feels like. No telling what he might do as governor.

Message: Be afraid. Give in. Give up. Submit. Shut up. It's what Tom Corbett wants.


We hope you find Tom Corbett's rationalization of his outrageous subpoena to Twitter as appalling as we do.
It boils down to this: "Yes, it's true I sought the identity of my anonymous critic so I could punish him with prison time, but only if it's this one particular guy."
We're pretty sure they covered the First Amendment at Tom Corbett's law school, but let's clarify something for him: criticism of a public official - even anonymous criticism of a public official - is not punishable by law. Not even if the anonymous critic is some guy you managed to convict of a couple of felonies.
It's been clear for more than a year that Tom Corbett and his minions have been hell-bent on proving his anonymous critics are defendants in a criminal case.
Be warned, Pennsylvania: It's a very short leap from "He's only criticizing me because he's a criminal defendant," to "He's only a criminal defendant because he's criticizing me.
Please support the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Apparently Team Corbett is too bloated to hide behind grand jury secrecy any longer. (Try cutting back on the salt, guys.) "We can't comment on an ongoing investigation (except when we feel like it)" just doesn't cut the mustard in the Show.

And we are most definitely in the Show. The New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post Politico, Wired, even Keith Olbermann have taken an interest in the little assault on free speech we've got goin' on up here in Pennsyltucky.

(If you want to hear Signor Ferrari's incredibly sexy electronically-distorted voice, visit KDKA and WTAE)

Finally called upon to justify Tom Corbett's attempt to unmask his online critics, mouthpiece Kevin Harley brilliantly hinted the subpoena is related to today's sentencing hearing for a Bonusgate defendant.

As the kids say, O RLY? "Using the grand-jury process to get evidence in the aid of sentencing is an abuse of the system. Grand juries are to investigate potential crimes, not aid in prosecution," says Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania (a total rock star and our new personal hero).

Um...what was it that subpoena said again? "You are ordered to appear as a witness ... to give evidence regarding alleged violations of the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

Even if the blogger did turn out to be Corbett's favorite whipping boy, unless exercising free speech anonymously on the internet is now a violation of the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, that subpoena seems a bit, well, misleading.

Not everyone is buying this sentencing spin. As Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News asks, "if he's going after one guy, why go after two Twitter accounts?" Attorney Bryan Walk says his client is being used as a smokescreen and the real motive behind the subpoena is to stifle dissent.

But let's set aside the blatant violation of the First Amendment. Let's set aside the abuse of the grand jury system. Let's set aside the inveracity of the subpoena itself.

Let's indulge Team Corbett in their little fantasy. Let's say Twitter complies (quietly!) with the subpoena. Let's say the information Twitter divulges somehow definitively proves Signor Ferarri is who Corbett believes he is.

ACLU law professor Eugene Volokh mused to the New York Times that "if [the defendant] turned out to be one of the commenters," perhaps his online comments might "be at odds with a claim of contrition at sentencing."

Was this their plan? To use a grand jury subpoena to solicit information they might get to use in case a defendant were to make a statement in the future that contradicts a statement on a blog that they suspect he writes?

If it weren't so chilling from a civil liberties perspective, you'd have to admit it's pretty hilarious. Clearly, they're watching too many Law & Order reruns (the histrionic later episodes, not the Jerry Orbach classics). You just know they were fantasizing about a grand dramatic moment when they leap up and yell, "that's not what you said on your BLOG, sir!"

C'mon. That's funny.

Even granting the possibility of this truly bizarre scenario - and that is a stretch - exactly what statement on this blog might contradict any "statements of contrition?" After the dramatic Law & Order moment, what were they going to say? What statement were they going to cite?

As we said yesterday, for all their obsession with this blog, they're not reading it too carefully.

Special thanks to our new friend "TN2010" for the lovely illustration on today's post. We think the Corbett campaign should consider using it as a poster or maybe a direct mail piece.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Considering how obsessed Tom Corbett and his minions appear to be with our li'l ol' blog here, it doesn't appear that they (or the people they pay to do their reading for them) have actually read this blog very carefully. (Or they do and have just chosen to lie about it. It's always so hard to figure out whether they're being ignorant or deliberately malicious.)

Set aside the fact that their presentencing report for one of the Bonusgate defendants actually asserts that a defendant they suspect of "maligning the prosecution" should be penalized for this criticism.


But what really chaps our blogger asses is the entirely false claim that the defendant has (they think) used the blog to "defect blame and deny responsibility for his criminal conduct."

We issue a challenge to friend and foe: Find one post on this blog which fits that description.

This blog has a simple mission, which is clearly stated at the top of the page and which we humble contributors take very seriously: exposing the hypocrisy of Tom Corbett.

Yes, we have pointed out that Tom Corbett has failed to investigate numerous instances of conduct identical to the conduct for which he prosecuted Democratic staffers (and one sitting legislator, who was acquitted.)

Yes, we've pointed out that Tom Corbett himself has engaged in practices for which he has prosecuted others.

Yes, we have pointed out that Tom Corbett's failure to investigate House Republicans from the start - despite his repeated claims that he was doing so - resulted in the disappearance of evidence he later whined about. (Despite the fact that he himself okayed the disposal of computers)

Yes, we've accused Tom Corbett of using his office to intimidate critics.

Yes, we have pointed out that Tom Corbett's own staffers exchanged hundreds of phone calls on state time, using state phones, with campaign workers who had no legitimate business with the state.

Yes, we have pointed out that Tom Corbett attacked his primary opponent in 2004 for failing to recuse himself from an investigation involving a campaign supporter, while defiantly refusing to recuse himself from an investigation involving dozens upon dozens of his own campaign supporters.

Yes, we have pointed out the absurdity of Tom Corbett's refusal to indict Bill DeWeese in connection with bonuses, "LCOMM" and the Nader and Romanelli petition challenges.

Yes, we have called attention to the other political cronies who have escaped criminal prosecution due to their close ties to Tom Corbett.

And yes, we have called into question why Tom Corbett's "investigation" of Senate Republicans did not uncover the overt political operation Jane Orie allegedly ran out of her district office.

We're the first to admit, as the Morning Call's John Micek says today, we've "spent the last year or so being a bee in Tom Corbett's bonnet."

But "deflect blame" and "deny responsibility?" Sorry, we've got bigger fish to fry and no one else seems willing to step up to the fire.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


It's certainly been an interesting day here at CasablancaPA. We made so many new friends! Since last night, the number of followers on our Twitter feed has more than quadrupled (and counting!), and traffic on this li'l ol' blog increased almost seven-fold.

Thanks to all our new tech-savvy friends, we learned the term for this phenomenon is the Streisand Effect.

Tom Corbett's obsession with CasablancaPA is nothing new. More than a year ago, his minions prodded Tribune-Review columnist Eric Heyl into idle speculation about the identity of the bloggers.

A few months later, he insinuated to the Associated Press not only that he knew the identity of at least one blogger, but that said blogger was "making stuff up." (Slander!)

But for all his bluster, it appears that he is not as sure as he wants us all to think he is, and wanted to go into court on Friday with solid proof (which he doesn't have) that someone's been blogging mean things about him, and someone should serve a long jail term because of it.

Seriously. They said that. That someone should serve a "a sentence far stiffer" than his convictions warrant because he's "used an anonymous blog" to "malign the prosecution." Or, at least, they think he has. A prosecutor in the United States of America asserts that someone should serve time because the prosecutor thinks (but doesn't know for sure) that someone is maligning the prosecutor.

(Speaking of maligning a prosecutor, check out these Tweets!)

Anyway, a million thanks to all our new Tweeps. We love you! Our favorite Tweet of the day, from the stalwart Grabngo: "I'm Spartacus."

You rock!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


CasablancaPA today received notice that Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett has subpoenaed Twitter for identifying information about our Twitter account.

It is unknown whether Blogger has received a similar subpoena; we have received no such notice.

The subpoena for Twitter can be found here.


Gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett had an awkward encounter at his campaign stop in the Lehigh Valley yesterday.

According to the blog "Repatriot Radio," Corbett exploded at a man who asked about the federal lawsuit Corbett finds himself currently embroiled, specifically a possible federal investigation into the activities surrounding Corbett's Financial Enforcement Section:
"Anyway I asked the question Mr Corbett if you win tomorrow how will you handle your campaign and your subsequent Federal trial for alleged fraud in the Attorney Generals office. Tom Corbett got so irate he came off the platform through the crowd and confronted me to my face on the issue. All he said was that the info I was referring to was fraudulent and put out by the Sam Rohrer campaign. He shook his finger in my face and told me to go back to Sam and get my facts straight."(Repatriot Radio 5/17/10)
This isn't surprising. Corbett is known for his short temper. However, it is troubling to hear that Corbett's taxpayer funded security detail attempted to remove the questioner:
"I went there as a private citizen to ask a legitimate question as well as others but I could only ask the one before I was directed to leave. Tom’s state paid body guard/chauffeur the black guy [in the picture] tried to move me out but I would not budge. He actually tried to push me out but when he touched me he could not budge me so I stood there peacefully then he walked to the side when Tom came over to me. You will notice Tom also tried to usher me out with his hand on my left arm."
Taxpayer funded security is there to protect Corbett from physical harm, not harm to his campaign.

It is interesting to note that in public Corbett is adamant that there is no federal investigation...period. Yet in an unprecedented (Corbett has only been deposed once in his long legal career) six hour deposition, he isn't quite as vehement:
Attorney for Kimmett: Mr. Corbett, were you ever, did you ever learn sometime in or after June of 2008 that Mr. Kimmett had approached the US Attorney’s Office with what he felt were systemic problems in FES [Financial Enforcement Section]?

Corbett: I learned, I think there was a question in the interrogatories to that effect. Is that right?

Attorney for Kimmett: I’m not sure there is.

Corbett: Somewhere along the line in preparation I’ve heard that.

Attorney for Kimmett: Okay.

Corbett: Did I hear about it in 2008? No.

Attorney for Corbett: When you say in preparation, you mean

Corbett: For today.

Attorney for Corbett: For your deposition.

Attorney for Kimmett: Do you know if at any point you or anyone in OAG has been contacted by anyone at the FBI relating to allegations or complaints made by Mr. Kimmett?

Corbett: To my knowledge nobody in the office has been contacted by FBI to my knowledge and I certainly haven’t.

Attorney for Kimmett: Have you ever had occasion to work with in any capacity an FBI agent named Timothy Lynch?

Corbett: I’m sorry?

Attorney for Kimmett: Timothy Lynch.

Corbett: Not that I know of. Okay.

(Pages 232-234, Corbett Deposition 3/11/10)
Something is amiss at the FES. Something serious enough to warrant Corbett being forced to spend six hours being deposed. Something serious enough that the FBI and an agent Timothy Lynch are asking questions.

Corbett not only doesn't want to talk about it, he doesn't even want questions asked. It is disturbing to learn Corbett has enlisted his taxpayer funded security guard to shut down the debate.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett has made it clear that it is wrong to mix campaign work with taxpayer business when it comes to consultants. (28th Statewide Grand Jury Presentment No. 2)

That is, it's wrong as long as it doesn't apply to his Office of Attorney General and his campaign for governor.

As Attorney General, Corbett awarded a taxpayer funded no-bid contract to Jennifer Branstetter to “consult on development and maintenance of OAG outreach projects; provide advice on brochures, media handouts, videos and promotional pieces." This contract runs through June 30, 2011. (Contract #4000013722)

Anyone who has followed any of the bonusgate hearings or trials will know that Corbett's prosecutors practically spit whenever discussing work described as "outreach projects" conducted by state legislative employees. They have worked overtime trying to convince judges, juries and the public that "outreach" is just a euphemism for "campaign work."

We're sure Corbett's taxpayer-funded mouthpieces have an abundance of excuses why that standard doesn't apply to Corbett.

But, it isn't that simple to explain away Branstetter's contract for "outreach" because in addition to having a contract with the OAG, she also has been on a monthly retainer with the Corbett for Governor campaign since October of 2009...for the very same type of work she's doing at the OAG. (PA DOS Campaign Finance Reports)

The Patriot News recently reported on how conflated Branstetter's consulting on brochures and outreach for the OAG gets with her consulting on brochures and outreach for Corbett for Governor:
"Sandy Segal said he didn’t know what to think when he received the letter this week. The envelope, labeled as coming from 'Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett,' bore the message: 'Please give me your immediate attention.' He opened it to find Corbett was seeking a contribution in his run for governor. Corbett is seeking the Republican nomination. 'It looked like a pretty official kind of letter to me, at least the envelope,' said Segal, 62, of Susquehanna Twp...As for the envelope, [Corbett's taxpayer funded campaign manager Bryan Nutt] said Corbett’s photo, name and title were put on it to make it clear who was sending the letter...'The only problem I got is, here he is convicting these people for merging political activities with their legislative duties,' Segal said. 'Damn, this is the same thing.' (Patriot News 3/31/10)
The photo on the campaign mailing wasn't just any photograph of Corbett. A close examination of the photo on the campaign letter shows that it was from the same taxpayer funded "photo shoot" as the one used at the OAG website. It is the same suit, same tie, same wrinkled shirt, same background. It is the same shoot. You can just imagine the taxpayer funded photographer saying, "Look serious." Snap. "Now smile." Snap. Check a comparison out for yourself here. (Credits to twitterer "grabngo")

It is pretty clear as Branstetter was consulting on the production of this campaign mailing that thousands of potential Corbett donors received, when the time came to find a suitable picture she just made a couple clicks of the mouse and came up with a picture of Corbett from her taxpayer funded OAG photo file.

Corbett has been aggressive in saying taxpayer funded contractors like Eric Buxton, Aristotle and GCR are rotten and criminal. He should include Jennifer Branstetter on that list.

Editor's Note: Jennifer Branstetter is the spouse of Bob Branstetter who is partners in the political consulting firm Hallowell, Branstetter and Long. Mike Long joined Hallowell and Branstetter in 2006 and is an as yet un-indicted bonusgate figure from the Republican State Senate Caucus. We have a hunch that close ties between Corbett and the Branstetters (among others) have helped keep Long un-indicted.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Being implicated in gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett's bonusgate investigation tends to put legislators on edge...and brings out the hypocrisy within.

We get a kick out of the hypocritical spluttering from Speaker Keith McCall, Dan Frankel, George Kenney, David Patti, Karen Beyer, and Sam Smith about how they had no idea about the campaign work done on their behalf by state employees on taxpayer time using taxpayer resources.

The latest bonusgate hypocrites are Representative John Yudichak and former Representative Tom Tigue. Both were "outed" as having actively used state resources and staff for political campaigns by Tom Leighton, Mayor of Wilkes-Barre and Democratic primary opponent of Yudichak for the vacant Musto state senate seat.

Leighton's release draws attention to an email with Yudichak, Tigue, Stetler, DeWeese and Veon that was a key piece of evidence in the Veon bonusgate trial and will be in the upcoming Stetler bonusgate trial. (Scranton Public Policy Examiner 5/11/10)

Yudichak is outraged at the revelations and tells the WB Citizen's Voice, "It is clear as crystal that the wild allegations made in this press release have no context, no fact."

Tigue also scrambles to distance himself by saying "there's nothing further from the truth. None of this stuff occurred," (WB Citizen's Voice 5/12/10)

Both are lying. The evidence is clearer than the crystal in Yudichak's house, and it clearly shows Tigue and Yudichak were active participants in using taxpayer resources and staff on taxpayer time for campaigns. If it wasn't clear, Corbett wouldn't have used it against Stetler and Veon.

You can see for yourself on Pages 10 and 11 of the Stetler Grand Jury presentment and the entire emails in Veon's June 2009 filing. (Exhibit K, Attachment 10)

Tigue told the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader “Nowhere in the Stetler indictment does it say that any of the campaign work was done on taxpayer time." (WB Times-Leader 5/12/10)

That is another lie from Tigue. Here is an excerpt from page 7 of the Stetler Grand Jury presentment: “Thus the ‘perfectly good system’ that Stetler directed Wiedemer to utilize involved HDC employees, on legislative time, using legislative resources to perform Opposition Research.”

This is the very same opposition research Stetler sent to Yudichak and Tigue on their taxpayer funded emails. The times on the emails are during the work day and both men knew everyone included on the email to be state employees.

Tigue and Yudichak used their taxpayer funded staff for campaign purposes. There is no getting around it. In fact, don't be surprised if both men are called as witnesses by either Corbett, Stetler or both in upcoming trials. Dan Wiedemer and Cameron Texter will certainly be testifying to the provenance and process of creating the opposition report Tigue and Yudichak...someone has to take the stand to authenticate the emails.

Like many of the legislators who are wrapped up in the bonusgate investigation, Tigue and Yudichak hope that if they say it isn't so, then their involvement will be rendered moot. Unfortunately for all of the hypocrites, the emails don't lie.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Perhaps now that Mike Veon's trial is over, everyone can stop pretending that anyone ever claimed "everyone did it," as a legal defense and take a good long look at why Tom Corbett chose the targets he chose.

If things had gone the way Corbett had planned, the original 12 Bonusgate indictments would have been the only Bonusgate indictments. No one who's paying attention believes the indictments of Steve Stetler, Bill DeWeese, and the John Perzel gang were anything but damage control (so far, extremely effective damage control).

If things had gone the way Corbett had planned, the only sitting member of the legislature indicted would have been a sophomore rank-and-filer who just happened to be the Democratic front-runner for a competitive state Senate seat. He wasn't even charged in the caucus-wide political activities at the center of Bonusgate, and he was acquitted of all charges.

Corbett spent a year and a half building a case that state legislative resources were systematically misused to elect Democrats to the House, and decided that not a single sitting elected official was responsible.

The sole person with the authority to spend caucus funds was not responsible.

The chairman of the caucus campaign committee was not responsible.

The operations chair of the campaign committee was not responsible.

The dozens of elected officials whose names appeared on documents presented as evidence of the scheme were not responsible.

Somehow, the only elected official who could be held responsible was no longer in office, could not cast a vote in the legislature, held no influence in state government and just happened to be the poster boy for an unpopular legislative pay raise.

How convenient for a future governor.

How utterly unbelievable. Corbett misjudged exactly how unbelievable, but only by a little.

Because Corbett had no clue how the legislature operates, it didn't occur to him that the case he'd spent a year and a half constructing was impossible without the imprimatur of one man: H. William DeWeese.

That DeWeese was criminally involved was so obvious to those who knew more about the legislature than Corbett (i.e., everyone), his impending arrest was simply assumed. E-mails and testimony demonstrating DeWeese's culpability weren't interpreted as evidence of a blunder on Corbett's part, but simply as harbingers of DeWeese's eventual indictment.

That indictment never came. Despite clear evidence of DeWeese's involvement in awarding bonuses for campaign work, directing state employees to conduct opposition research and petition challenges and using a state contractor for political work, DeWeese never was charged for any of it.

It's clear how he escaped indictment. DeWeese paid for his passage by dropping his legal challenges against Corbett's inquiry, and handing over a silver platter of hand-selected evidence against his former colleagues.

And Corbett had to see the advantage of having a sitting majority leader so deeply in his debt.

What's less clear is why that escape hasn't raised more eyebrows. Corbett gambled that charging DeWeese in a handful of lesser crimes would divert attention from DeWeese's free pass on Bonusgate. And it worked (so far).

But the red-herring charges against DeWeese represent an even dicier gamble for Corbett. For DeWeese to admit he was double-crossed would be to admit that he was culpable in the first place. Although he came dangerously close to that admission by taking the Fifth in the Veon trial, DeWeese still has a political image to uphold. But if he loses re-election, all bets could be off.


There is no way to sugarcoat it. Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett is a liar and he surrounds himself with liars.

Take yesterday's Philadelphia Daily News:
"Tom Corbett swears that he didn't plan it this way. The state attorney general says that he didn't time his probe of state General Assembly corruption to peak during his campaign for governor this year. Corbett said that people often don't believe this: He didn't even think about running for the Republican nomination until 2009, after winning a second term as AG."(Philadelphia Daily News 5/10/10)
People "often don't believe this" because it is a blatant lie. Corbett had been coveting the Governor's mansion well before 2008 and he used the 2008 bonusgate arrests to help pave his path there.

In 2008, less than a week after his re-election, Corbett was schmoozing at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Miami. (Tribune-Review 11/16/08) By mid-December, he had dispatched envoys to encourage Councilman Frank Rizzo to run for Lt. Governor. (KYW 12/27/08) Capitolwire reported in early December 2008 that "Republican donors and campaign figures throughout the state were told by Attorney General Tom Corbett this week that he will run for governor in 2010" and were told by his taxpayer-funded campaign manager, Brian Nutt, that "Obviously [running for Governor] is something he is considering because of his natural position in the party." (Capitolwire 12/10/08)

Corbett doesn't want to admit his 2008 bonusgate indictments were political, so he pretends he never thought of running for Governor until much later than the facts prove he did.

Just so he won't get lonely, Corbett has filled his staff with liars, too.

Nutt recently got caught in a whopper when Corbett backed out of (yet another) joint appearance with their GOP opponent:
"GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Tom Corbett canceled a planned appearance at Saturday's $20-a-plate fundraising breakfast sponsored by the Manheim Central Republican Committee. Was it because he knew Sam Rohrer would be there, too? The Corbett campaign says no, that its candidate never committed to the event and in fact couldn't attend because of a scheduling conflict. 'We were never confirmed to be there,' spokesman Brian Nutt said...Charlotte Rissler, who organized the Manheim Central GOP breakfast, said she was particularly disappointed by Corbett's last-minute cancellation — his staff notified her Friday night that he wouldn't be able to make it — because the campaign had made the initial request to be there. 'They called last Tuesday, and they requested he be given time to speak,' she said." (Lancaster Intelligencer 5/10/10)
Nutt is a liar and that is a lie worthy of a fibber in elementary school.

Here is Corbett's lying chief political consultant:
"John Brabender, Mr. Corbett's chief media strategist, insisted that, 'I can tell you now that we will not be talking about Bonusgate -- ever -- in the governor's race.'" (Post-Gazette 3/24/10)
Brabender is a high-priced liar. Corbett proved as much in late April:
"...Mr. Corbett gained name recognition and some criticism for an aggressive series of grand jury investigations into the legislative spending scandal that came to be known as Bonusgate. His first round of grand jury presentments snared a collection of former state legislators, including former House Minority Whip Michael Veon, D-Beaver. Amid criticism that he was targeting only Democrats, he later unloaded scores of criminal counts against the Republican former state House Speaker, state Rep. John Perzel, R-Philadelphia. He has made it clear he'll run on that record, but to date, the primary challenge from Mr. Rohrer has pushed Mr. Corbett to shore up his conservative credentials, leaving little time for internal party messages about crime-busting. 'You might see that coming,' Mr. Corbett said, 'but right now we don't need that for the primary.'" (Post-Gazette 4/27/2010)
The lying isn't just confined to Corbett's campaign lackeys. Corbett has fostered a culture of lying among his staff at the Office of Attorney General, too.

Here is Senior Deputy Attorney General and liar Frank Fina, the man entrusted with the bonusgate investigation and prosecution:
"There's no ledger for politics in the crimes code...Anybody who violated the law is going to get it" (Patriot News 7/31/08)
But Corbett and Fina know that State Representative Matt Wright did exactly what bonusgagte defendants did and they refused to indict him. (PA Ethics Commission Order #1541 12/15/09)

Here is lying Senior Deputy Attorney General K. Kenneth Brown II explaining why bonusgate defendants were handcuffed:
“A felony is a felony, and if it is a felony, you get cuffed. The law makes no distinction for white collar crimes, and neither do we.” (Patriot News 11/13/09)
As everyone knows, Brett Feese, Steve Stetler, Bill DeWeese, Sharon Rodavich, Jeff Foreman, Scott Brubaker and Jen Brubaker were not put in handcuffs. And, Brown is blantantly lying about the law concerning handcuffs. He simply made that up.

Lying about the law brings us to another Fina lie, this time in an effort to cover for the Corbett campaign's hundreds of illegal phone calls to and from OAG staff on their taxpayer-funded phones on the taxpayer time:
"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)
Sorry, Frank, but it is. Charlie Young, the official spokesperson of the Pennsylvania Department of State, says so:
“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)

(Since Corbett's campaign staff don't work or live at the Office of Attorney General, and vice versa -- or do they? -- we wonder if Fina thinks they were calling one another to order pizza or looking for their mothers.)

It may seem silly for Corbett and his team to lie so much. He is the odds-on favorite to be the next Governor and, as the prosecutors, they are holding the all the cards against the bonusgate defendants. But make no mistake...they aren't being silly. Take Corbett's absurd sense of entitlement, combined with a compliant press corps that functions as stenographers rather than journalists, and you get a politician who makes it up as he goes along. The same goes for the people he's chosen to surround himself with.

And if lying is the modus operandi of Corbett's OAG, just imagine a Corbett Administration.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Quiz time! Who said the following, and about whom did he say it?
"_____ does not seem to understand that it is unethical to allow his office to prosecute his close friends, neighbors and contributors to his campaign ... How can _____ not understand the appearance of impropriety? Maybe he interprets the law differently when it applies to himself. _____ should immediately return the [campaign contributions] and apologize to the voters for his ethical conflict and the appearance that the top law enforcement office in Pennsylvania is for sale in exchange for political and legal favors."
Think it's one of gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett's political adversaries, speaking of Corbett and his "investigations" of his own close friends and contributors? We can see how you might make that mistake.

Actually, it's Corbett's taxpayer-funded campaign manger, Brian Nutt, sputtering with indignation about Corbett's primary opponent Bruce Castor, way back in 2004. (Corbett Campaign Press Release 4/23/04)

In the April 24, 2004 press release, Corbett's mouthpiece howled about Castor's failure to recuse himself from a case involving a campaign contributor.

In case that's not hilarious enough, several Pennsylvania District Attorneys also volunteered to hyperventilate for the press.

Among the pearl-clutchers was Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins, who described how he once found himself in a similar dilemma. "I felt it was necessary to immediately recuse myself to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest."

But Corbett did not recuse himself to avoid a conflict of interest three years later when rape accusations against his close political ally and campaign contributor Higgins were referred to his office. Ever-so-coincidentally, Corbett dropped the case. (Altoona Mirror 2/27/09) Furthermore, Corbett has refused to turn over any documentation of his rape investiation of Higgins so the alleged victim could prepare an appeal. (Johnstown Tribune-Democrat 4/9/10)

Another D.A. aghast at Castor's ethical lapse was York County District Attorney Stan Rebert. "This was an obvious conflict of interest and Mr. Castor should have recused himself."

But Corbett did not recuse himself a year later when called upon to investigate Rebert, a longtime political supporter. Again, not-so-surprisingly, no charges were filed against Rebert. (York Dispatch 1/28/06) When incriminating new information emerged in the form of sworn depositions, Corbett refused to re-open his investigation. (York Daily Record 2/28/06)

Most importantly, Corbett did not recuse himself from investigating the Pennsylvania House and Senate Republican Caucuses, whose members have contributed millions to Corbett's various political campaigns.
“Why would someone give an Attorney General candidate over $500,000? Is it because they are expecting something in return? Or is it in return for a favor already performed? Voters throughout Pennsylvania and the nation are increasingly concerned about the powerful influence of major contributors like ______ and the political – and apparently in this case the legal – favors they expect in return."
AMEN! Oh, wait. That was Nutt talking about Castor and the campaign contributor from whose case Castor failed to recuse himself. (Corbett Campaign Press Release 4/19/04)

Remember when Corbett adamantly maintained he should head up the bonusgate investigation even though many of his ostensible targets in the legislature were prominent supporters? (Tribune Review 1/24/08)

Corbett has yet to indict any significant supporter who serves or has served in the state legislature. In fact, he's completely ignored the Senate Republican Caucus, which awarded the largest bonuses to staff who worked on campaigns. Although John Perzel eventually was sacrificed for the appearance of nonpartisanship, Perzel's refusal to support Corbett's gubernatorial primary campaign, during a private meeting between Perzel, Corbett and Nutt in October of 2007, preceded Perzel's indictment.

"Maybe he interprets the law differently when it applies to himself."

Maybe, Brian. Maybe...