Friday, March 16, 2012


One state senator is on trial on accusations of illegal campaign work. Another is about to plead guilty to charges of illegal campaign work. Yet not a single pundit, politician, watchdog or journalist finds it worth mention that the Governor of our fair Commonwealth, while Attorney General, claimed to have investigated the Senate for illegal campaign work and came up with zilch.

Nearly two years ago, when the Allegheny County District Attorney arrested then-Senate GOP Whip Jane Orie, a few Capitol-watchers briefly lifted their heads from their desks. Laura Vecsey of the Patriot-News sniffled:

If the Bonusgate probe did what the Attorney General’s office said—that is, probed all four caucuses of the state legislature—how come Senate Republican computers were allegedly still storing campaign files?

And the Philadelphia Daily News' John Baer mused:

I ask, since Corbett spent years investigating (he says) all four caucuses, why a fellow-Republican senator in leadership never shows up on his radar.

Why, indeed?

We don't yet know - and may never know - what documents or testimony led federal prosecutors to accuse former Senate Democratic Leader Bob Mellow of illegal campaign work. But we do know that one of two scenarios transpired:

1) Tom Corbett examined the same documents and testimony and chose, for unexplained reasons, not to indict anyone connected with the Senate.

2) Tom Corbett never examined any documents or testimony related to either Senate caucus.

Once again we return to the age-old question: is Tom Corbett corrupt, or simply the worst prosecutor in the history of jurisprudence?

We know that an intern actually called Corbett's office to report illegal campaign work going on in the Senate, but Corbett's office blew her off.

At that point, Corbett's alleged investigation of all four caucuses had been going on for more than two years.

Though the Senate GOP claimed to have turned over "tens of thousands" of documents" to Corbett's office, not a single Senator or staffer was subpoenaed.

Yet, when county and federal prosecutors subpoenaed staffers in both caucuses, they apparently had plenty to say.

Even the most slavering Corbett sycophant now realizes that Corbett was lying when he claimed to have investigated the Senate, even as he squandered taxpayer resources going through the motions for sake of appearances.

From a practical standpoint, who can blame him for ignoring the Senate? He thought he had a nice, tidy campaign issue wrapped up with a bow when he indicted the long-deposed former Democratic House Whip and a handful of Democratic staff in 2008. But headache after headache followed when leaks revealed the holes in Corbett's case, and it turned out the voters expected at least a token show of nonpartisanship.

Corbett never had any intention of ferreting out corruption in the legislature. Remember, it was a disgruntled employee who first shed light on bonus payments, and activists and editorial writers who pushed Corbett to investigate. Corbett, whose most likely opponent for the Republican gubernatorial nomination was in the thick of a high-profile political corruption case, saw the opportunity for political gain, and nothing more.

The question is now whether the snowball he started rolling will roll right over him.


Anonymous said...

But it's still not too late to actually go after both Senate caucuses. Here's a start: Mellow says he willfully overlooked staff and leaders doing political work on state time with state resources. Presumably he now has to testify cooperatively and honestly. How about calling him before the grand jury like next week?

Anonymous said...

Overheard at lunch:

1st guy: How in the world can you explain how Corbett could have investigated the Senate and not caught Mellow, or Musto, or Fumo, or Orie, or...

2nd guy: Easy, all you have to do is shut your eyes.

Anonymous said...

Unbelieveable. If this doesn't reinvigorate the AG probe into the Senate caucuses, then nothing weill. Or, maybe just no matter what nothing will.

Anonymous said...

You are missing the point: it's not the Senate that needs to be investigated, it's Corbett.

Bram Reichbaum said...

Fascinating discussion.

I think with the advent of the Cracker and the "success" of the austerity measures, the public is ready to give Corbett the green light on perhaps past selective prosecutions. It's like, sure that sounds like fun or whatever.

We should certainly investigate the Senate, and I like Anon 2:31's idea. Question Mellow.

Anonymous said...

Get a life, Payjacker Mellow!

Anonymous said...

The Magic Moment: Here come the prosecutors

Six decades of Pennsylvania governors, AGs, and the state Republican Party Part 2

We continue our essay on the Gov. Tom Corbett, Jerry Sandusky and Penn State University scandal with more background on Pennsylvania's troubled Office of Attorney General

It was an unwritten rule that whenever the police had evidence on a relative of a politician the politician would first be told about it to prevent 'embarrassment' 'You want to live, you want to retire, you play ball.'

Anonymous said...

3 Republican staffers get probation and don't lose pensions -because they cooperated. This is a message to Steve Stetler. Consider a guilty plea!

Anonymous said...

Tomorrow (3/21) we'll see f Republicans and Democrats get treated the same. If Perzel and Preski do not get at least 4 years (ala Veon) it's hard to see how it is equitable treatment. The same with Manzo - he should do more than 4 years too.

Anonymous said...

Inside the case against state Senator Jane Orie, there rests a few paragraphs of interest to anyone interested in Attorney General Tom Corbett’s Bonusgate probe.

Like the Bonusgate defendants, Orie is charged with allegedly using legislative staff, equipment and offices for campaign efforts not only for herself, but also her sister, Joan Orie Melvin, the new state Supreme Court justice.

Charges that “up until late spring of 2009, some of the very campaign and political records of Orie’s were maintained on computer hard drives.

In other words that Corbett has refused to respond to, if the Bonusgate probe did what the Attorney General’s office said—that is, probed all four caucuses of the state legislature—how come Senate Republican computers were allegedly still storing campaign files?

The Feds and DA's had to do Corbett job he claimed he did, but now we know Corbett never investigated the Senate Caucuses and his silence is and act of admission.