Monday, November 8, 2010
Are we the only ones who see the irony?
A candidate for governor whose main claim on the office is his prosecution of government corruption, placed into office by an ex-con convicted of multiple felonies in one of the darkest government corruption cases in Pennsylvania's history.
In his victory speech on Tuesday night, the very first person Corbett thanked, after his family, was convicted felon Bob Asher.
The 1980s bribery and racketeering case that sent Asher to federal prison has mostly faded from the public memory, and is notable mainly for the tragic public suicide of State Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer.
Asher's involvement? He threatened to withhold campaign funds and political support from Dwyer unless Dwyer awarded a multi-million dollar state contract to a handpicked crony.
Got it? He threatened to withhold campaign funds and political support from an elected official unless that elected official used his influence to benefit Asher's allies and cronies.
In 2004, Asher initially recruited and supported Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor to run for state Attorney General. But when Castor opposed Asher's appointment Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Asher switched his support to Castor's primary opponent, Tom Corbett.
The lesson is clear. And Corbett appears to have learned it.
One of Corbett's earliest supporters in his campaign for governor, Asher served as co-chair of Corbett's exploratory committee. Asher's formidable support came as Corbett was in the throes of the political corruption investigation that would serve as the foundation of his gubernatorial campaign.
Remember, Asher tends to withhold support from public officials who don't do his bidding.
If we were the Patriot-News editorial board, this would be the part where we say, "We're not saying that Asher may have used his gargantuan influence to determine the direction of the Bonusgate investigation. But we can see where some people might be disturbed by the appearance of a possible conflict of interest."
Presidential Candidate Rudy Guiliani was foolish enough to be embarrassed by Asher's public support, and hastened to distance himself from the ex-con.
Corbett had no such qualms.