Wednesday, August 31, 2011


While Harrisburg's self-proclaimed pundits and gasbags attempt to explain what former state Rep. John Perzel's guilty plea really means, (or more likely, whom he agreed to throw under the bus), we think it's worth examining what led to this moment.

First, though, we must correct an inexplicably ubiquitous error in the chronicling of the Perzel story. You will read and hear in nearly every media report that Perzel is accused of misdirecting $10 million in taxpayer funds. This is blatantly false, and we can't comprehend why it's been so consistently misreported. As anyone who has read the grand jury presentment concerning Perzel - admittedly, that probably doesn't include most of the Capitol Stenographers Corps - can tell you, Team Perzel is accused of misappropriating $20 million in taxpayer funds.

It's right there on the first page: "This presentment will disclose that a vast array of public expenditures, exceeding twenty million dollars, were spent between 2000 and 2008 by the House Republican Caucus ..."

Let's add it all up:

$9.3 million to GRC & Associates
$1 million in "labor and benefits" from the House Republican Information Technology Department
$6.2 million to Aristotle International, Inc.
$3.8 million to Constituents Direct LLC
$400,000 to Weiss Marketing Group
$100,000 in politically-motivated "junkets"

That's $20.8 million right there, without including the unspecified costs of "miscellaneous uses of public resources for campaign work" and the salaries and benefits of the Office of District Operations - "a taxpayer-funded, wholly owned campaign subsidiary of the House Republican Campaign Comittee."

What's the big deal? you may ask. Isn't $10 million serious enough? Aside from being inaccurate, the $10 million figure simply doesn't convey the true scope of the House Republicans' alleged criminal enterprise - an enterprise that Gubernatorial Candidate Corbett was more than willing to overlook, until questions about partisanship arose, and until a secret meeting with Perzel that belatedly appeared to trigger the investigation. Subpoenas were issued three weeks after the meeting.

In other words, according to Corbett's own investigation, House Republicans allegedly misappropriated more than $20 million in taxpayer funds over an eight-year span. House Democrats allegedly misappropriated about $2 million over a four year span. Yet investigation of the Democrats' alleged crimes took precedence over investigation of the Republicans.

While Corbett was busy lying that the case against the Democrats was a priority because they were (wrongly) suspected of destroying evidence (a suspicion that didn't arise until more than six months after the investigation began), the House Republicans were busy actually destroying evidence. Who could have predicted that would happen after Corbett himself gave House Republicans permission to switch out their computers?

We remain at a loss to explain why Corbett, ostensibly a trained lawyer, claimed that he needed probable cause that evidence was being destroyed in order to seek evidence.

Not that he had any intention of seeking any kind of evidence against House Republicans at that time. Months after executing a search warrant on House Democrats, Corbett was still accepting campaign contributions from and secretly meeting with the supposed targets of his "investigation."

Because Corbett treated Perzel's alleged crimes like an afterthought, the reporters who lap up his every pronouncement as gospel have treated them that way, too - not even bothering with more than a cursory glance at a press release. Even though the very "facts" they were reporting showed that Perzel's alleged crimes were far more serious and far-reaching than Veon's, they took their cue from Corbett and proceeded as if Perzel's crimes paled in comparison to Veon's.

We have no idea what the Office of Attorney General promised Perzel in exchange for his guilty plea, or what else Perzel threw into the bargain, but it's worth noting that an elected official facing 82 felonies, representing $20 million, was permitted to plead to fewer counts than a staffer facing 47 felonies, representing less than $2 million.

We hope prosecutors found a better bargain in Perzel than they got in Mike Manzo.

UPDATE: One member of the Capitol Stenographers Corps tells CasablancaPA that the Office of Attorney General claims although the House Republican Caucus spent in excess of $20 million, Perzel himself was responsible for only $10 million of that. Which of course begs the question - unasked by the Stenographers, naturally - why no one was charged in connection with the other $10 million. Eh, it's probably not important .... right?

CORRECTION: Mike Manzo was originally charged with 47 felonies. The original post misstated the number. We made the mistake of relying on a Post-Gazette story by Tracie Mauriello. Yes, we should have known better.


Anonymous said...

Charged with 82 offenses, Perzel entered guilty pleas in Dauphin County Court to two counts of theft, two conflict of interest charges and four of conspiracy.

The maximum penalty on the charges is 24 years in prison and a $50,000 fine, said Judge Richard Lewis. But the plea agreement calls for the four conspiracy charges to run concurrent with the charges of theft and conflict of interest at sentencing, Lewis said. Perzel is expected to serve time, but not 24 years.

The minimum sentence would be 18 to 50 months, Fina said.

Fina said he believes Perzel will serve time in prison.

Perzel's $85,000 annual pension is in jeopardy, Fina said. "My understanding is his pension would automatically be forfeited under state law," Fina said.

The final decisions rests with the state pension board and they can recommend an opinion since he cooperated, he added.

The other charges will eventually be dropped after prosecutors no longer need Perzel's testimony, officials say.

Mr. Perzel is free on bond pending sentencing, which has not been set.

Anonymous said...

THE THREE-decade public career of John Perzel, who climbed from the maitre d' stand of a Northeast Philly restaurant to speaker of the state House, will sputter to an ignominious end.

This guy is the scum who orchestrated the state takeover of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Instead of generating revenue for the Philadelphia School District as promised, Republicans have exploded spending and created hundreds of patronage jobs that pay over $100,000 a year.

Now the schools district gets nothing.

Upon conviction of a felony any legislator forfeits benefits and pension.

That is why R. Bud Dwyer committed suicide the day he was to plea...because he died before he was convicted/plead guilty, his wife and children kept the pension.

While Bob Asher went on to being a convicted felon millionaire that put Corbett in the Governors' Mansion.

The fix is in.

Perzel was indicted on 82 counts but the judge accepted a guilty plea on only 8?

Brilliant observation that he faces a $50,000 fine for overseeing a $20,000,000 fleecing of the taxpayers.

A trial on charges against a 10th defendant, John Zimmerman, is not expected to start until December.

Plus, the sentence will not happen until all trials are over and this selective persecution goes away quietly into the night.

Anonymous said...

Has Ed Rendell sent a heart warming letter yet, asking the Judge to be lienient because Perzel is a great guy?

Hey, it worked for Fumo!

Hey Ed...and the Fumo case is up for review with a possible longer term.

I bet now Fumo wished Spendell would have kept his letter of commendation to himself!

Perzel deserves to burn.

The positions these people hold are one involving a lot of trust by the residents and taxpayers of this Commonwealth.

And in such those that hold those positions should be held to a higher standard. I think that is completely understood.

If those that are interested in these elected public posts can not fulfill the higher standards associated with the not run for it. Simple.

Anonymous said...

Where's Gene Stilp and his pig? The unquestioning faith these reporters have in authority is just touching.

The Lizard said...

Of course, this will never reach most of the front pages in the eastern part of the state where Hurricane Irene is still in visitation. Most people -- if they even care -- will not see what is transpiring today, either because they are still out of power or there are no newspapers to get.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... Where's Gene Stilp and his pig? The unquestioning faith these reporters have in authority is just touching. September 1, 2011 11:23 AM

The way Gene & His Pig were ignored last time by the Press, has put him in Depression.

Now that more truth needs to come out showing Corbett's abuses as AG on these investigations, and it is as if Gene is R.I.P.!

Anonymous said...

As a young boy, I didn't know a Republican from a Democrat, only in one way:

If some man or bunch of men rode up to the ranch to sit or stay all night, and my Father set me to watching 'em all the time they was there -- what they did and what they carried off -- I learned they were Republicans.

WILL ROGERS, Never Met a Man I Didn't Like

Anonymous said...


Governor Tom Corbett, who as Attorney General authorized a probe of legislative operations that resulted in former House Speaker John Perzel's guilty plea Wednesday to theft, conflict of interest and conspiracy charges, offered several thoughts on that moment today.

Corbett noted that he has come under a lot of scrutiny for having received a "fair amount of money" in campaign contributions from natural gas companies with drilling interests in the state's Marcellus Shale region.

His administration is in a position to dramatically shape how the state regulates the natural gas boom there.

Corbett reminded reporters today that he received campaign contributions from former House Speaker John Perzel in 2004, adding: "It didn't do him any good, did it.

"If you think money given to me is going to make me do something other than my duty, than you shouldn't have given it to me."

Anonymous said...

Ask Corbett how much cash did Waste Management give to his Campaigns through straw layers, lawyers, and directly?

For 4 years, Corbett vocation as an attorney and spokesperson for the nation’s largest, and questionably most notorious, trash haulage and disposal firm, Waste Management Inc.

Where Corbett promoter for his employer to dump massive amounts of out-of-state garbage in Pennsylvania.

Now that Corbett is governor, his official state biography tells a something else story.

His stretch flacking for Waste Management has been throwing down what writer George Orwell famously called “The Memory Hole”.

Instead, Corbett’s years in the private sector are described in a way that would cause a casual reader to infer that Corbett started a law practice in 1997 that in fact did not exist until five years later.

Corbett’s press aides did not return phone calls last week, this week, or we suspect next week on the facts we uncovered.

The governor’s new official bio now states:

“In 1997, Corbett again returned to private practice, forming his own law firm, Thomas Corbett and Associates, which focused in consultation and government relations. He continued that private practice until his election as Pennsylvania Attorney General in November 2004.”

Giving a deposition under oath in March 2010 in a case brought by a whistleblower who worked under Corbett in the Attorney General’s office, Corbett testified that he launched Tom Corbett and Associates — actually a solo practice — in April 2002 and closed it in late 2003 to run for Attorney General.

Corby Boy testified that after working for a time for a Pittsburgh law firm, he took a position in April 1998 as Associate General Counsel for government affairs eastern region for USA Waste, which one week later was bought by Waste Management.

“I covered a 14-state region, Maine to Michigan to Virginia,” Corbett testified. “Dealt with regulatory agencies within those states, primarily Pennsylvania and Virginia, and also with legislative issues. And managed the lobbyists that had been hired by the preceding...entities.”

He said he left in early 2002 after a change in management.

During his time, Corbett often found himself defending the large amount of trash that Waste Management’s Pennsylvania landfills accepted from New York and other states in the late 1990s and early 2000s that was often put into deep coalmines to leach into commonwealth water.

“Nobody wants their own trash," Corbett told the Pittsburgh Business Times in 1999. “Everybody wants someone to pick it up. Nobody wants us to put it down."

During Corbett tenure as AG, Corbett refused to conduct oversight of Waste Management and practice lax enforcement.

Nevertheless, by the time Corbett ran for governor in 2010, the issue had faded.

Now, at least on his official bio, the past of a landfill defender is completely buried.

One more question, who is hauling polluted fracking water from Marcellus Gas Drilling, take a big guess?

One more question, does Corbett Tenure as Attorney General need an investigation bt the Feds now?


Anonymous said...

Corbett’s work for Waste Management was an issue in the hotly contested 2004 campaign.

His main GOP primary opponent, then-Montgomery County DA Bruce Castor, called Corbett “Forest Dump” and attacked his “dirty ties to the trash industry”.

Castor factually PROVED that Corbett had personal ties to convicted felons Bob Asher and DeNaples who had links to the gambling industry along with Mike Long a long time political trickster operative.

Louis A. DeNaples is a Scranton, Pennsylvania businessman, best known as former owner of the Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania. In January, 2008, DeNaples was charged with four counts of perjury due to his suspected ties to the Bufalino crime family when applying for a Pennsylvania state gambling license.

The charges were later dropped by Corbett in April 2009 after DeNaples agreed to turn over legal control of Mount Airy Casino resort to his daughter?

DeNaples is owner of Keystone Landfill Inc. yet another garbage dump approved by Corbett.

While chairman of the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania Asher was convicted of perjury, racketeering, conspiracy and bribery in connection with a state contract award. The first person Corbett thanked on election night was Bob Asher.

Mike Long was given the largest Bonus of anyone in the senate as he was chief of staff for President Pro Tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate Robert Jubelirer.

Mickey Long as called by his close friends, is also the brother-in-law of former majority leader, David (Chip) Brightbill.

Mickey was the "chief political strategist" for the Senate Republican Caucus and Corbett Campaign.

So, why no news from Corbett about Mike Long, shouldn't be surprising that even a sophisticated political site like would forget that Long was at one time a prime suspect for Corbett to investigate.

Yet, Corbett hired Mike Long to run his campaign for Governor while pretending to investigate Long?

If Castor is wrong on these facts, I challenge anyone to correct them.

Anonymous said...

"If you think money given to me is going to make me do something other than my duty, than you shouldn't have given it to me."~Corbett

If you think your cavalier little quip is going to remove the appearance of impropriety from your actions and your record, you're dumber than the photos make you out to be.