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.