Monday, October 18, 2010
In a surprise reversal of position, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett said Saturday that he would not consider making workers contribute more of their paychecks to help the state repay a $3 billion loan from Washington to cover the cost of unemployment benefits. (Allentown Morning Call, 10/16/10)
The Morning Call has a really low threshold for surprise. Next, they'll be reporting that the sun surprisingly rose this morning.
Ol' "Weather Vane" Corbett routinely changes direction with the slightest gust of wind.
For years, advocates begged Corbett to investigate questionable decisions by the Hershey Trust board of trustees, including a shady real estate deal that benefited a trustee. As recently as a few weeks ago, Corbett belittled their concerns and called their allegations "nothing new." Then, poof! a front-page story in the Inquirer spun him in the opposite direction, and suddenly he's announcing an investigation.
After a former aide to then-chair of the House Democratic Campaign Committee Steve Stetler testified in July 2008 to a grand jury that Stetler authorized campaign work by legislative employees on state time, Corbett was perfectly content to let it slide. He even allowed Stetler to ignore a subpoena with no consequences.
A year later, the Post-Gazette revealed the aide's testimony and the Tribune-Review the subpoena. In short order, Stetler was facing indictment.
After nearly two years of investigation, Corbett saw no need to indict Rep. H. William DeWeese, despite evidence of his complicity in awarding bonuses for campaign work, use of a state-paid contractor for campaign work, and supervising staff working on campaigns around the state.
Although Corbett never did charge DeWeese for his involvement in the caucus-wide activities at the center of Bonusgate, public revelations of the evidence put enough pressure on Corbett that he - whoosh! - finally dredged up a separate case
Charging Republicans in connection with Bonusgate was so far from Corbett's mind in the summer and fall of 2007 - in the thick of his investigation of House Democrats - that he allowed the House Republicans to replace all their computers. He thought nothing of meeting privately, with no attorneys present, with the Republican former House Speaker John Perzel. A fund-raiser hosted by the former chief of staff of the caucus he was supposed to be investigating? No problem!
But then editorial pages started throwing around phrases like "if not corruption then certainly politicking," (Lebanon Daily News)," and ""skepticism about his impartiality," (Allentown Morning Call) and "politics creeps into everything," (Harrisburg Patriot-News), and even fellow Republican Sen. John Eichelberger called the investigation "a joke," creating enough gust to airlift Corbett into Republican indictments.
It's not surprising for Corbett to "reverse position" ("I use two phones! No, one phone! Two! One! No, definitely two!" ... "We won't campaign on Bonusgate! No, we will campaign on Bonusgate!" ... "A fee is a tax! It's a fee, not a tax!)
What's surprising is that he gets away with it.