Monday, November 29, 2010
A BRIBE BY ANY OTHER NAME
The Pennsylvania political community is abuzz with the revelation that an elected official accepted financial considerations from business owners with the understanding that he would use his elected office to steer favors toward those businesses.
Think we're referring to Sen. Ray Musto, accused of accepting $35,000 from an unnamed construction company in exchange for his help to secure government funding?
No, we're referring to the $1 million Governor-Elect Tom Corbett accepted from the natural gas industry in exchange for his help in blocking a state severance tax on natural gas production and reversing a moratorium on new drilling on state forest land.
While the accusations against Musto are criminal and could land the 81-year-old Democrat in jail, Corbett's transactions appear to be perfectly legal and landed the 61-year-old Republican in the Governor's Office.
While we've accused Corbett of hypocrisy for prosecuting legislators for activity in which he himself is engaged, we can't make that claim in this case. Because despite a multi-million-dollar, four-year investigation of all four legislative caucuses (or so Corbett has claimed), Corbett didn't uncover a hint of Musto's alleged crimes.
Or Sen. Jane Orie's.
Or Sen. Bob Mellow's.
In fact, even though Corbett claimed to be investigating the Senate - particularly the Republican caucus, which awarded the largest individual bonuses to staffers who spent most of the year campaigning - and had publicly claimed he would not accept contributions from Senators, he privately told those same Senators it was OK to launder their contributions through the coffers of his running mate.
Once again, the question we must ask is whether Corbett is incompetent or corrupt.
After all, either Corbett really has been investigating the Senate for four long years, (all while indirectly accepting campaign contributions from the targets of the investigation, which actually would make him both corrupt and incompetent), and somehow missed Orie's alleged illegal campaign operation, Musto's alleged kickback and bribery scheme, and Mellow's alleged campaign finance violations. (And, let's face it: God knows what else.)
Or, he never really was investigating the Senate at all and simply put on an act to deflect accusations of conflicts of interests.
It certainly wouldn't be the first time.
But in the case of Musto, we're willing to believe Corbett simply didn't see the crime in exchanging personal financial consideration for government largess.