Thursday, September 8, 2011
PAYING THE PIPER, PART II
The state-paid legal fees did not cover the defense of officials once they were charged. They went to the cost of representing caucuses in the investigation and to ongoing bills for counsel for scores of House and Senate employees subpoenaed to testify. (Tribune-Review, 9/8/11)
During 2007 and 2008, when the House Democratic Caucus was the sole focus of Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett's investigation of the General Assembly, H. William DeWeese was Majority Leader.
DeWeese was not among the original defendants indicted, despite ample evidence of his culpability.
In 2009, Todd Eachus replaced DeWeese as Leader of the now-Minority House Democratic Caucus. In 2009, DeWeese was indicted, but Eachus was not, despite ample evidence of his complicity.
In 2009, Sam Smith was Leader of the Majority Republican Caucus. John Perzel, for all his former power, held no formal leadership role in his caucus. When Corbett finally got around to indicting Republicans in 2009, Smith was not among them and Perzel was, despite the fact that Smith signed the shady contracts at the center of Perzel's alleged crimes.
Under Pennsylvania's caucus system, the only person authorized to spend caucus funds, whether for bonuses or for computer contracts or for legal fees, is the Leader. Not the Whip, and not the "Speaker Emeritus."
As we have noted before, at least one judge in Pennsylvania recognizes that witnesses are reluctant to implicate the people paying their legal bills. One might say an entire investigation could be tainted by such an arrangement.
It's "interesting" that of the three sitting lawmakers indicted, none of them were in a position to pay the lawyers counseling the witnesses who testified to the grand jury, and no one who controlled the purse strings during the testimony was indicted.