Thursday, January 26, 2012


Here's a puzzle:

Since the very moment craven liar H. William DeWeese struck a deal with then-Gubernatorial Candidate and Attorney General Tom Corbett to escape indictment in the "Bonusgate" case, DeWeese has pointed to his very cravenness as evidence of his innocence and his ethics.

After "discovering" evidence that his chief of staff and other staffers were engaged in illegal electioneering, DeWeese says, he fired them.

But he never fired his former taxpayer-funded political operative Kevin Sidella, and he never fired his former press secretary Tom Andrews, despite overwhelming evidence of their participation in the same activities.


Don't expect prosecutors in DeWeese's trial to ask the question, even though this week DeWeese's lawyer actually invoked Sidella's involvement in the "Bonusgate" case in an effort to discredit Sidella's testimony against DeWeese.

And, although hope springs eternal, we don't expect the Capitol Stenographers Corps covering the trial to ask or even acknowledge the question.

The answer is simple: the very same evidence that implicated Sidella and Andrews implicated DeWeese himself.

That's why DeWeeese never turned it over to Corbett. And though it made its way to the OAG through another route, Corbett never acted upon it, or charged DeWeese for witholding it.

Much of Harrisburg seems to have forgotten, but when Corbett first launched his campaign for Governor by issuing subpoenas and executing search warrants on House Democrats, Bill DeWeese actively obstructed the investigation. He fought to quash the subpoenas and sought "legislative privilege" for the seized documents.

After the state Supreme Court shot him down, DeWeese negotiated a deal with Corbett, the precise terms of which remain confidential.

Then, with the taxpayer-funded help of high-powered fixer Bill Chadwick, DeWeese gathered emails and documents that implicated his former colleague Mike Veon and several staffers, turned them over to Corbett and leaked them to Corbett sycophant Dennis R. Roddy. At the same time, he fired most of the staffers implicated therein.

Just before that, however, DeWeese eased Sidella off the state payroll and continued to pay him the equivalent of his state salary out of campaign funds.

Andrews remained a part of DeWeese's Harrisburg staff until DeWeese was indicted on separate charges. Forced to resign his leadership position within the caucus, DeWeese had to downsize his staff. Andrews was spurned in favor of hypocritical whore Paul Sunyak, who remains assigned to DeWeese. Andrews was reassigned within the caucus, but remains loyal to his old boss.

We're curious what lies DeWeese might tell to justify his inconsistency in retaining ties with Sidella and Andrews while throwing up other staff as human shields.  But prosecutors won't ask, because it might reveal the 2007 "negotiation" that both Corbett and DeWeese want desperately to remain a secret.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Unlike the Computergate trial, which ran nearly six weeks this past fall and was largely a battle of documents, DeWeese’s trial is shaping up as a battle of witnesses, with an array likely to be called by both sides.  (Patriot-News, 1/23/12)

Curious why documents won't figure largely in craven liar Bill DeWeese's trial on illegal electioneering, even though the Office of Attorney General is in possession of reams of documents that inciminate Bill DeWeese and his state-paid aides on illegal electioneering?

Documents such as campaign-related faxes and emails among DeWeese's state-paid aides using DeWeese's state fax-machines and state email during the state workday?

Documents such as emails among DeWeese, a top state-paid aide, and a state-paid contractor detailing illegal campaign work performed by the state contractor?

Documents such as emails showing a state-paid DeWeese staffer worked on DeWeese's 2006 re-election campaign from DeWeese's district office, then transferred to DeWeese's Harrisburg office where he continued to perform political work?

Not just documents, but grand jury testimony from DeWeesese staffers that  DeWeese knew about the bonus scheme?

Documents such as an the infamous "U R welcome" email from DeWeese himself in which he explicitly acknowledged a bonus awarded for campaign work?

Why, with this plethora of evidence proving that DeWeese engaged in illegal electioneering, would the Office of Attorney General not even try to use it in a trial on charges of illegal electioneering?

The answer lies in a 2007 negotiation between DeWeese and then-Attorney General and Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett.

Corbett issued subpoenas to caucus employees, which DeWeese unsuccessfully fought to quash. Shortly after the Supreme Court shot down DeWeese's motion, DeWeese agreed to turn over selected documents and drop legal challenges to grand jury subpoenas.

DeWeese failed to turn over documents in his possession that incriminated DeWeese or top DeWeese aides, yet no charges were filed. Many of these documents found their way to the OAG through other routes, but none were ever used against DeWeese or his aides.

There doesn't appear to be anything illegal about this arrangement, whether formal or informal - Corbett granted immunity to hundreds of grand jury witnesses, some of whose immunity agreements remain confidential under seal. But the delusional DeWeese still clings to the laughable claim that he escaped indictment because of a lack of evidence. Corbett, meanwhile, clings to the claim that indictments in "Bonusgate" were based upon the evidence and not political considerations.

Now, prosecutors are faced with trying a suspected criminal without using the best evidence available to them, all because of a short-sighted agreement struck to expedite a criminal investigation along a political timeline.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


"We have every confidence that Justice Melvin can apply the applicable provisions of our Constitution to our appeal and render a fair and appropriate decision," said Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, who has an appeal pending before the court." (Tribune Review 1/21/12)

With all due respect, Senator, but you must be smoking some of your brother's weed. (Post-Gazette 11/17/10) There is no way that Justice Melvin will "render a fair and appropriate decision."

Millions of dollars were spent to put Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin on the Commonwealth's highest court for moments just like Monday when the court will hear your appeals regarding the 2011 legislative reapportionment plan. She is going to stick it to you just like the Reapportionment Commission did last month.

The ONLY, slimmest of narrowest chance you have for victory is to get her off the bench. A three- Democrat to three-Republican tie on the Supreme Court will create havoc and present more opportunities for more equitable options for Democrats in the matter. (PoliticsPa 1/18/12) When you're as far behind the proverbial eight ball as Democrats are at this moment, chaos is your friend...and your only hope.

Justice Melvin is accused of being compromised and corrupt in a manner much more insidious than Rolf Larsen. (Tribune-Review 1/11/12) She should be off the bench until her legal problems are settled.

Here at CasablancaPA, we imagine how the GOP would handle such a situation in the Democratic Party's shoes. With this much at stake, we're pretty certain they would try every option, turn over every stone, and pull out all the stops to gain any advantage.

This is about the future of the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania and all it stands for -- equitable education funding, clean air and water, affordable health care, to name just a few. All the Democratic press releases, Tweets, amendments, floor speeches and policy hearings are just futile screams into the wind unless the party controls the legislative calendar.

We are reminded of the following contrast between the Republican and Democratic parties' responses to the Bush/Gore results in 2000.  It should be required viewing for all the Democratic Caucus leaders (and any of their staff who aren't urging a full-frontal assault on Melvin.)  Pennsylvania Democrats should not proceed with the attitude of a Warren Christopher when Melvin provides them with the kind of red meat James Baker would rip to shreds. Nothing worth having comes to you without a fight. Start punching!  Now watch and learn:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


In the wake of Sharon Rodavich's plea bargain today (Tribune Review 1/18/12), the CasablancaPa Players proudly present their interpretation of Representative Bill DeWeese as he prepares for trial.  Anyone who has spent much time with DeWeese will acknowledge this is a spot on portrayal of Bill..
And, scene.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


"Sasinoski testified that Melvin's office was using so much paper for campaign work that on one occasion she and Melvin loaded boxes of paper from [Senator Jane Orie's] Harrisburg office into Melvin's car to stock up. 'The suspension was actually down on the car. I was concerned,' Sasinoski said." (Tribune Review 12/30/11)
Apparently, a witness under oath, in court, giving detailed testimony about Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin personally stealing state legislative property for her judicial campaign isn't enough to be suspended from the bench. (Post Gazette 1/11/12)  
But, it isn't just this one instance of theft.  A recent grand jury report has page after page of sworn testimony outlining the rampant use of Melvin's staff and offices for political campaigns over nearly twenty years. (Grand Jury Presentment)  Yet, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has not suspended her.
Here at CasablancaPA, we get a chuckle from this considering that just last week a sitting judge was suspended from the bench by the Supreme Court for allegedly exposing himself to an employee. (Inquirer 1/6/12)  This kind of lewd behavior is clearly worthy of a suspension.  How unseemly for a judge to even be accused of such activity!
However, it is just as unseemly for a sitting judge to be pilfering a state legislative office of its paper supplies for her personal political gain (and that's the least of the abuse of her authority).  Maybe it would have been different if Justice Melvin has exposed her her trunk...too?

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Finally, one of the defendants in Tom Corbett's politically-motivated investigation of the legislature has officially charged what we at CasablancaPA have been saying all along.

Caucus-paid lawyers, hired by legislative leaders, actively steered witness testimony away from the leaders who hired them.

Not a single legislative leader was charged in the original investigation.

In a lawsuit, former House Republican staffer Al Bowman claims caucus-paid lawyers blocked his efforts to give prosecutors testimony against caucus Leader Sam Smith.

What a surprise.

It doesn't take a genius to see the overwhelming conflict of interest presented by allowing the ostensible targets of an investigation to choose, hire and pay the lawyers for the witnesses in that investigation.  In fact, in any other instance, Corbett's office would have objected to such an arrangement.

In a case involving the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, former Deputy Attorney General Patrick Blessington, who prosecuted the "Bonusgate" case, was outraged by such an arrangement:

"Blessington told Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina that the request posed a conflict because the lawyers, Robert Welsh and Catherine Recker, were being paid by the archdiocese while advising potential witnesses whose testimony could hurt the church and its leaders.  He said the lawyers want to sit in on all meetings between the employees and law enforcement. 'You don't have to stretch your imagination to see the chilling effect that will have,' Blessington said."

Last year a judge, too, noted the conflict in a case where the Archdiocese agreed to pay an accused priest's legal bills, but only if the case turned out the way Archdiocese officials wanted. It was obvious to Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes that the Rev. James Brennan had a financial incentive not to incriminate the people paying his legal bills.

But even though Team Corbett objected to the arrangement in other cases, they had no problem with allowing caucus leaders to foot the bill for legal representation for the very witnesses who might testify against them. And that's because they had no interest in hearing testimony against any of the legislative leaders.

Even when Corbett was accidentally presented with evidence against legislative leaders, he never acted on it. Evidence in the  "Bonusgate" case implicated not only then-Whip, former Leader Bill DeWeese, but also Leader Todd Eachus and Speaker of the House, Keith McCall,  Evidence in the "Computergate" case implicated Leader Smith. A former legislative intern implicated former Senate Republican Whip Jane Orie. Corbett responded to exactly none of it.

Barring his ass-covering belated indictment of DeWeese, Corbett targeted only two sitting legislators, both rank-and-filers.  He had no intention of antagonizing the very legislative leaders who would be acting upon his agenda when he became Governor.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


After his strong showing last night in the Iowa caucuses, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum shot to the top of the list of GOP presidential contenders.  All this new attention on Santorum should - but probably won't - bring a renewed interest in his Pennsylvania non-profit, Operation Good Neighbor.

Everyone recognizes it to be quite irregular an organization.  Just this morning the Philadelphia Inquirer's John Baer lists it as one of the factors that may sink his presidential bid after further scrutiny by the national media.  (Inquirer 1/4/2012)  Perhaps he's right.

But, here at CasablancaPA, we can't help but draw the comparison to former State Representative Mike Veon's non-profit, Beaver Initiative for Growth, the subject of Veon's trial later this month. (Tribune Review 9/1/2010)

The charges brought against Veon by then Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate, now Governor Tom Corbett accused BIG of spending too much money on overhead and salaries, inappropriately mixing political and legislative work with that of the non-profit's, and using the non-profit's fund to benefit close personal and political friends.  (Tribune Review 3/26/2009)

Every one of those accusations applies to Santorum's Operation Good Neighbor.  There was a shockingly low ratio of giving to overhead. (“Sen. Santorum’s home mortgage foundation outlays raise questions” Philadelphia Daily News, 2/21/2006) 

There was a completely unacceptable blending of the non-profit operations with his legislative and political operations. (“Santorum’s Operation Good Neighbor is low on giving, high on fees” Associated Press, 2/25/2006) 

And, there was plenty of evidence that government contracts were awarded to friends of the non-profit and Santorum’s political causes and personal campaign. (“Big donor to Rick’s charity was seeking federal aid” Philadelphia Daily News, 3/2/2006; “Group tied to Santorum campaign gets $250,000 grant” Philadelphia Daily News, 3/24/2006)

At the time of Veon's arrest, Corbett falsely promised that he would be looking into other Pennsylvania non-profits that are connected to politicians:

"'The grand jury is also investigating other nonprofit organizations run by elected officials and funded by taxpayers' dollars,' Corbett said. 'This is far from a completed investigation.'" (Tribune Review 3/26/09)

Yet, Corbett never looked at Operation Good Neighbor (or any other legislatively run non-profits for that matter).  

Maybe it has something to do with Corbett's close political alliance with Santorum (PoliticsPA 11/17/2009)

Maybe it is because Santorum and Corbett share the same high level political consultant, John Braebender.  His work for Corbett (Capitol Ideas 12/22/2010) and Santorum (Boston Herald 1/4/2012) is a huge part of Braebender's business.

Just more politically-motivated hypocrisy from Corbett.