Wednesday, September 12, 2012


In 2008, then-journalist Dennis Roddy, using leaked evidence, exposed the use of state resouces to research political enemies.

In 2012, now-state employee Dennis Roddy is using state resources to research political enemies.

As the American Working Families Action Fund pointed out in a press release:

" employee working inside the office of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett had researched the backgrounds of people who appeared in our organization's Facebook page. Dennis Roddy, who is a Corbett communications staffer, used some of that research to post political comments on a blog dedicated to politics while apparently working on state time."

In 2008, Roddy quoted a target of the research saying challengers are "already up against the establishment, and now they're using our own tax dollars to investigate us. That's incredible. I pay my tax dollars to have someone investigate me."

In 2012, Roddy is part of the establishment using tax dollars to investigate the opposition.

In 2008, Roddy's boss, Tom Corbett, said researching political enemies on state time is a crime, and indicted the staffers who allegedly did it.

In 2012, Roddy says, "There is nothing inappropriate" about it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


No matter how many times we have pointed out that it's a lie, the Tribune-Review's Brad Bumsted just can't break his addiction to the "Democrats were destroying evidence" fable.

In a little-noticed item in July, the Tribune-Review reported, "The state attorney general’s investigation of legislative corruption that began in 2007 found no substantial evidence of wrongdoing among Senate Republicans."

Bumsted does not waste the opportunity to trot out, yet again, Tom Corbett's thoroughly-debunked excuse for launching a highly-publicized investigation of one caucus - House Democrats - in early 2007 while giving the other three a year or two to get their ducks in obstructive formation.

Corbett "needed to focus on House Democrats first" Bumsted writes, because they "tried to destroy evidence."

But Corbett didn't receive a tip about evidence being destroyed until six months after he began his House-Democrats-only investigation.

In a breathless account of Corbett's "surgically executed raid" on the House Democratic Office of Legislative Research in August 2007, Post-Gazette reporters Tracie Mauriello and Dennis Roddy (now "special assistant" to Corbett) make it clear that investigators "rushed" to seize the evidence immediately after receiving the tip. The agents were in such a hurry they met with a judge at an airport at 7:30 a.m. "to press their case for an expedited decision."

In August.

By August of 2007, Corbett had been investigating House Democrats, and House Democrats alone, for six months.

The fact that it's a blatant lie is just one problem with the "destroying evidence" excuse. It contradicts Corbett's original claim that he was investigating all four caucuses in 2007. And it acknowledges his own incompetence.

As Corbett's opponent in the 2008 Attorney General race, John Morganelli, pointed out:

"If I have four potential targets, and I think they all might be involved in the same thing, and if I go to house A and take all the evidence out and wait two years to go after B, C and D, there’s not going to be any evidence in B, C and D. What you do is you have to swoop in all at one time."

That is, if you really do have four potential targets. Even some Senate Republicans believe Corbett was politically motivated to spare their caucus:

Republican Sen. John Eichelberger, a fiscal and social conservative from Blair County who requested the investigation, told the Tribune-Review on Wednesday that he believes the lack of action by the office is politically motivated.

Monday, September 10, 2012


The public corruption cases against Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her sisters have been in the news lately because of recently issued court orders to try two sisters together and to suspend Orie Melvin's salary pending the outcome of her trial.

One aspect of the Orie case we expect never to be in the news is the Senate Republicans' apparent coverup of Sen. Jane Orie's crimes and then-gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett's cheerful tolerance of their lawbreaking.

Former Sen. Jane Orie was convicted in March and sentenced in June on five felonies and nine misdemeanors in connection with illegal campaign work at taxpayer expense, and a subsequent attempt to cover up her crimes.

The Patriot-News reported in February of 2008 that Senate Republicans had been supoenaed (a full year after the start of the investigation) for "evidence of campaigning on state time or using state resources."

The Allegheny County presentment accusing Jane Orie of her crimes reveals that "up until late spring of 2009, some of those very campaign and political records of Orie's were maintained on computer hard drives that were part of the state computer system."

We also know that political material was in Jane Orie's senatorial office at least until November 1, 2009, when her chief of staff Jamie Pavlot testified that she removed it.

These records were created during Jane Orie's 2002 and 2006 campaigns, so they were on the hard drives when Senate Republicans received a subpoena for them. So, at the very least, Senate Republicans failed to comply with a subopoena. When Corbett learned, through an investigation not his own, that Senate Republicans did not turn over evidence which he supposedly had subpoenaed, did he take legal action?

Perhaps the Senate Republicans believed that Corbett issued the subpoenas simply for show, in response to criticisms that he was not investigating all four caucuses. After all, he did nothing for a year after House Republicans ignored the subpoenas he supposedly issued in October 2007.

It's interesting to note that during nearly two full years when Tom Corbett allegedly was investigating all four caucuses, even after her caucus was subpoenaed, Jane Orie felt perfectly comfortable maintaining political material on state-owned computers. It was only when she learned that someone other than Tom Corbett was investigating - Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala, Jr. - that she became concerned enough to remove political material from her computers and her office.

Why, we wonder, did Corbett's investigation inspire no such concern?

Perfectly timed be be buried by release of the Freeh Report, the Tribune-Review dutifully reported in July that Corbett "found no substantial evidence of wrongdoing among Senate Republicans."

Sen. John Eichelberger never was interviewed, even though he has said that he could name times and places where he saw aides of former Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer, R-Altoona, campaigning in Cambria County races, including his own.

Eichelberger says the lack of action is politically motivated; it's hard to believe that Corbett wouldn't have found reason to indict someone in the Senate Republican Caucus, if only he had been looking. Of the bonuses that triggered the investigation, Senate Republicans awarded the largest, to staffers who worked on political campaigns.