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.


Anonymous said...

Are "they" still investigating the Senate caucuses? When do the statute of limitations let the Senate off the hook for the investigated period?

Anonymous said...

That's a good question. Wonder if the media will be doing a follow up on that ticking clock?

Anonymous said...

So you agree thatVeon is guilty of misspending taxpayer dollars for personal gain? I thought you awns mike were completely innocent!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading this blog since before the trials and it hasn't said anyone was innocent. Instead, it's said Corbett is a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous 8:12, this site has been pretty consistent in it's stated mission of exposing Corbett, and they've done a great job...they've never skirted the fact that Veon raped the taxpayers and broke the law...I would expect Casa to be equally as objective when it's revealed how Veon and Rosepink misspent even more taxpayer dollars through his non-profit.

Anonymous said...

Veon did no more or less than any Senator, ethical violations at best, but Corbett wanted HEADLINES to become Governor against any foe.

Corbett also wanted to avoid political contributions revelations to Second Mile, so Corbett dragged his investigation of child abuse to protect his political friends.

All I know the cases broughts against VEON, COTT, AND ROSEPINK, were weak and even the Jury thought they were not guilty of any major crimes as said, after trial.

Anonymous said...

Former Capitol Aide Alleges Malpractice By Lawyers In 'Computergate' Case.

Thursday, January 05, 2012,
4:48 PM

A former state Capitol staffer has filed a malpractice suit against two large law firms, alleging they put House Republican leaders' interest ahead of his own during the state attorney general's "computergate" investigation.

Elmer "Al" Bowman, 36, of Red Lion, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in September and is awaiting sentencing.

Bowman is one of nine former House GOP officials to plead guilty or get convicted at trial last year in connection with a scheme to use taxpayer funds to build a high-tech campaign machine designed to preserve the Republican majority.

He alleges in his new complaint that because of his lawyers' conflict of interest, he missed chances to gain immunity for his cooperation with prosecutors and wound up facing criminal charges that have seriously impaired his career.

Those assertions could not be independently corroborated today.

Bowman, who was a staffer to former Rep. Brett Feese, R-Lycoming, received caucus-paid representation from K&L Gates and Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney during the grand jury investigation.

Bowman states he told the lawyers everything he knew about potentially criminal activity by Feese, then the caucus's top legal counsel, and others in leadership, including then-Minority Leader Sam Smith, R-Jefferson County.

But Bowman alleges attorneys from both firms shunted his efforts to get immunity aside, even to the point of telling prosecutors that Bowman was unable or unwilling to meet with them.

At the same time, Bowman asserts, the same lawyers arranged a series of meetings between the caucus leaders and investigators to try to steer them away from criminal exposure.

Bowman asserted that one reason that the leaders received preferential treatment is because of their import to the two firms' long-term lobbying and other relationships at the Capitol.

The case was filed in Allegheny Court late last month.

The attorneys named as defendants - John Krill, Abram Burnett and Linda Shorey of K&L Gates, and James Becker of Buchanan Ingersoll - either declined comment or did not respond to messages left by The Patriot-News.

Anonymous said...

So objectively, they confirm that Veon was guilty, and so was Cott. Good. Glad they put that in writing.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... So objectively, they confirm that Veon was guilty, and so was Cott. Good. Glad they put that in writing.
January 6, 2012 11:19 PM

Yes, if you look at it thatw ay, but add in Jubelier, Sam Smith, Brightbill, Gerry LaValle, Todd Eachus, Republican and Democratic senators and House members.


prosecutors misconduct is not going away either.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Yes, if you look at it thatw ay, but add in Jubelier, Sam Smith, Brightbill, Gerry LaValle, Todd Eachus, Republican and Democratic senators and House members."

So that made what Veon and Cott did permissible? Other people were doing it?

Anonymous said...

Presidential Candidate Ricky Santorum = Eddie" Haskell!

Ricky looks like Eddie Haskell the smart-mouthed best friend of Wally Cleaver.

Ward Cleaver once remarked that "Eddie is so polite, it's almost Un-American and one has to question his motives".

Ricky like Eddie Haskell was known for his neat grooming — hiding his shallow and sneaky character.

Typically, Eddie would greet his friends' parents with overdone good manners and often a compliment such as, "That's a lovely dress you're wearing, Mrs. Cleaver" or "Hi, Mrs. Weber."

Just like Ricky does with voters.

However, when no parents were around, Eddie was always up to no good — either conniving with his friends, or picking on Wally's younger brother Beaver.

Eddie's two-faced style was also typified by his efforts to curry favor by trying to talk to adults at the level he thought they would respect, such as referring to their children as Theodore (Beaver's much-disliked given name) and Wallace, even though the parents called them Beaver and Wally.

A weaselly wise guy, Eddie like Ricky could be relied upon to connive and instigate schemes with his friends, contributors, and political friends — schemes for which they would be in the position of blame, if (and usually when) caught.

Anonymous said...

Santorums Operation Good Neighbor is low on giving high on fees



Article Text:Sen. Rick

Santorum's charity donated only about 40 percent of the $1.25 million it spent during a four-year period,well below Better Business Bureau standards - paying out the rest for overhead, including several hundred thousanddollars to campaign aides on the charity payroll.The charity, Operation Good

Neighbor, is described on its Web site as an organization promoting "compassionateconservatism" by providing grants to small nonprofits, many of them faith-based.The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance has set a standard that charitable organizations spend at least 65percent of their total expenses on program activities.Operation Good

Neighbor is based at the same address as

Santorum's campaign office in suburban Philadelphia,and some of the same people who have worked on his campaign are working for his charity and collecting moneyfrom it, records show.Among them:* Maria Diesel, who has been paid fund-raising fees by the campaign, is listed as the charity's finance director. Filingsshow she has received $192,958 in professional fund-raising fees from Operation Good

Neighbor, Robert Bickhart, who has also been involved in raising campaign funds for

Santorum, is listed as the charity'sexecutive director. Filings show he has earned $75,000 in salary from the charity since 2001 and that his business,Capitol Resource Group, rents the office space to the charity. The charity has paid $20,437 in occupancy fees, filingsshow.

Santorum, the No. 3 Senate Republican, is embroiled in a tough campaign against his leading Democratic opponent,State Treasurer Bob Casey.Voice messages left Thursday and yesterday with the charity were not returned. Virginia Davis, his campaign presssecretary, said a response was being prepared but it was still not available late yesterday.

Questions about the charity's finances were first raised earlier in the week by the liberal publication AmericanProspect.From 2001 through 2004, filings show Operation Good

Neighbor took in a total of $1.6 million and spent about $1.25million. Of that amount, just over $501,000 was awarded in grants, helping people from the homeless to AIDSpatients.

The charity has not yet reported 2005 figures.The charity's IRS filings are signed by Barbara Bonfiglio, the treasurer. She is also the treasurer for

Santorum's campaign and his political action committee. Its secretary is listed as Mark Rodgers, his former chief of staff and nowstaff director at the Senate Republican Conference, where

Santorum is chairman. Charity filings do not show that either Bonfiglio or Rodgers were paid by the charity.

Santorum is not the only senator with a charity. Late last year, Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was criticizedafter an AP analysis found that his AIDS charity paid nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of hispolitical inner circle.

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., a former baseball star, has had a
foundation in which he raised money by signing baseballcards and has given himself a salary from it. *

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