Thursday, December 9, 2010


28th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury Presentment No. 2:
"The 25th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, on February 26, 2008. served a series of subpoenas upon the House Republican Caucus ... to produce before the Grand Jury evidence of "any and all evidence of campaign work" that a listed number of employees may have performed.

"Two days after the service of this subpoena, an employee of the Pennsylvania Legislature appeared in person at the offices of the Attorney General and stated that political and campaign material was being removed from a room, identified as Room B-02, located in the basement in the Irvis Office building in the Pennsylvania Capitol ... The following day, on February 29, 2008, the supervising judge of the Statewide Investigating Grand Jury issued a subpoena upon the House Republican Caucus ordering the immediate production of "any and all campaign documents or materials removed from Room B-02, in the basement of the Irvis Office Building, on February 26, 2008, or the sixty days preceding. You are ordered to disclose the location of any and all other materials removed from this location during the period described."

"Subsequent investigation* ... revealed that there had, in fact, been boxes containing political and campaign materials - as well as boxes containing direct evidence of campaign work performed by public employees - in Room B-02 on and before February 26, 2008. On that same date, employees of Representative Perzel directed House Republican Caucus messengers to remove boxes of materials from B-02 and transport them to Representative Perzel's office suite ...

"[Perzel Chief of Staff] Paul Towhey instructed [Perzel's secretary, Lori Lochetto] to transport all the campaign materials, as well as some non-campaign related items, to Representative Perzel's office suite. He further instructed her to then have the campaign materials and evidence of campaign work immediately extracted and moved out of the capitol to the House Republican Campaign Committee offices ..."

How does the Post-Gazette's Tracie Mauriello describe what happened?

"Boxes were moved as atty general investigators were about to execute a search warrant in GOP offices."

The obstruction charges against Team Perzel may seem a small part of the 400 criminal counts alleging a $20 million taxpayer-funded campaign operation Perzel operated out of the Capitol from 2000 to 2007. But Governor-Elect Tom Corbett himself told reporters the obstruction charges bother him the most: "If there's one thing in all of this that annoys me? Obstruction's the worst."

In this case, the distinction between executing a search warrant and issuing a subpoena is enormous, not just legally, but politically.

Set aside the fact that if what Mauriello reported were true, someone in the Attorney General's office would be guilty of a grievous crime by alerting the targets of a search warrant in advance of its execution. If Mauriello really believes that's what happened, it's inexplicable why she would have glossed over such a serious miscarriage of justice. More frightening is that she's unaware of the difference between a search warrant and a subpoena.

The important distinction between an search warrant and a subpoena in this case is that if Corbett had executed a search warrant on House Republican offices - as he'd done to House Democrats a full six months earlier - Team Perzel wouldn't have had an opportunity to hide or destroy evidence.

(Of course, he'd still have risked the possibility that Perzel would follow the lead of then-House Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese and tie him up in a court battle over the admissibility of evidence siezed - a battle that coincidentally ended when DeWeese agreed to turn over hand-picked documents implicating others.)

What's important to remember here is that Corbett says he was informed in February of '08 that Perzel's staff withheld evidence. But he didn't even begin to interview (much less subpoena) staff - that "subsequent investigation*" he mentions in the presentment - until July.

The evidence is overwhelming that Corbett never intended to investigate Republicans in earnest until political pressure forced him into it. Months into the so-called investigation, Corbett gave House Republicans the go-ahead to switch out all their computers. As late as eight months into the so-called investigation, Corbett allowed future defendant Brian Preski to host a fund-raiser and met privately with future defendant Perzel. His excuse? "We didn't have all the facts in front of us."

Because you can't find what you're not looking for.


Anonymous said...

While Tracey's ignorance is not the main point of this post...she also needs to learn to count. Her initial article said four convictions, one acquittal. Not quite. Three barely convictions, two acquittals.

To lose two cases and an overwhelming amount of the charges filed tell the true story of how weak these cases were, and how inept that office is.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. There should have been a better prosecution and early search warrents, then maybe Cott and Veon would have gotten life in prision like they deserve.

Anonymous said...

Sure, life in prison for working on campaigns just like 85% of all legislative staff members. That sounds about right.

Anonymous said...

When will Dmocratic staff be charged obstruction/obsctruction?? Brett Feese gets charged for faking a document. Darryl Hazelwood walks after destroying hard drives containg thousands of documents.

Anonymous said...

If he did that, he did it to protect DeWeese, not Veon. That's why he was never charged with it.

Anonymous said...

You should learn to spell, idiot.