Saturday, June 30, 2012


“It was a calculated risk,” that Jerry Sandusky still could be victimizing boys as the investigation languished.  -- Tom Corbett, who indicted Penn State officials Tim Curley and Gary Schultz for failure to stop Sandusky.

"As Governor Tom Corbett stated, 'If we were going to do this case, we had to have the best possible case  ... the responsible and 'humane' thing to do was, like Governor Corbett (said), to carefully and responsibly assess the best way to handle vague, but troubling allegations."  Curley and Schultz, through their lawyers, pointing out that they took precisely the same "calculated risk" as Corbett.

Newly disclosed emails make it clear that Penn State head football coach  Joe Paterno dissuaded Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley from reporting serial child rapist Jerry Sandusky to law enforcement in 2001. The emails reveal that they, along with former Penn State President Graham Spanier, also were aware of a 1998 allegation of abuse.

Schultz, Curley and Paterno all allegedly lied to a grand jury about what they knew. Their inaction allowed Sandusky to go on to abuse at least four more boys, probably more.

These disclosures are horrifying, and everyone involved should be held accountable for their failure to act. Including Tom Corbett.

As Curley and Schultz point out, they did nothing that Corbett himself didn't do after allegations came to Corbett's attention in 2009. Corbett knew that Sandusky could be continuing to abuse children while he and his investigators did nothing to stop him for nearly three years.  He admits he took a "calculated risk" with the safety of children, while he figured what course of action would be most politically advantageous.

If Curley and Schultz face criminal charges for failure to stop a child rapist, why shouldn't Corbett?  A resolution buried in the House Rules Committee since December 2011 could answer that question. Rep. Brandon Neuman this week announced a discharge petition to force a vote on the resolution.

By now it's clear that prosecuting others for doing just what Corbett himself has done was Corbett's signature move as a prosecutor.

He prosecuted legislators and staff for working on political campaigns on state time using state resources, and putting political operatives on the state payroll when Corbett himself put his campaign manager and other campaign operatives on the state payroll and OAG staff spent hours working on Corbett's campaign on state time using state resources.

Now he's prosecuting others for taking a "calculated risk" that a serial child rapist would continue to rape children. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


"During the Bonusgate investigation, we had a shortage of investigators in Harrisburg." -- Randy Feathers, Regional Director, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, 6/24/12.

While Attorney General and candidate for Governor, Tom Corbett first received a sexual abuse complaint against Jerry Sandusky in March of 2009, agents from the Attorney General's Office were not assigned to the case until just before the election in November 2010.

Sandusky was not arrested until a year after that.

Ever since Patriot-News reporter Sara Ganim revealed these unfortunate details, Corbett's feeble propaganda machine has desperately sought to persuade an increasingly skeptical public that a three-year investigation of child rape is perfectly normal.

In a moment of uncharacteristic candor, Randy Feathers - a narcotics investigator, not a child abuse or sex crimes expert, by the way - blows Corbett's reassurances out of the water.

Feathers confirms what most Pennsylvanians already knew: When Corbett should have been trying to take a serial child rapist off the street, he was scrambling to fix his botched "Bonusgate" investigation in time for the election.

No one would argue that John Perzel and Bill DeWeese should not have been prosecuted for their crimes (DeWeese never was prosecuted for his most serious crimes). But by the time Corbett received the Sandusky complaint, he'd been "investigating" the legislature for more than two years.

The only reason he was chasing after Perzel and DeWeese in 2009 is because he'd deliberately left them out of the original investigation - just as he deliberately left out the state Senate. Politics, not justice, forced him to revisit the legislature.

If Corbett were conducting a real investigation of House Republicans in 2007 and most of 2008, would he have allowed them to replace their computers? Would he and his campaign manager have been meeting with Perzel? Would he have allowed the House Republican Chief of Staff to organize a campaign fund raiser for him? Would he have waited more than a year to enforce subpoenas for documents?

Fact: Corbett was not investigating House Republicans throughout 2007 and most of 2008. He was lying about that.

If Corbett were conducting a real investigation of Bill DeWeese in 2007 and most of 2008, would he have allowed DeWeese himself to select what evidence to turn over to investigators? Would Corbett have disregarded a mountain of evidence linking DeWeese to the activities at the core of the "bonusgate" case?

Fact: Corbett may have been investigating DeWeese in the first half of 2007, while DeWeese was desperately fighting to quash Corbett's subpoenas and shield evidence. But he most definitely was not after Deweese agreed to turn over hand-selected evidence and drop his legal challenges to the probe.

Months before receiving the Sandusky complaint, Corbett was feeling the heat for his failure to investigate Republicans. He convened hearings to force House Republicans to respond to subpoenas he'd let languish for a year. Just as he realized that he'd need to indict a token Republican or two to appear impartial, it was becoming clear that House Republicans hadn't sat on their hands for most of the previous two years. Missing evidence made the investigation more difficult, sucking up more manpower and resources.

As investigators were struggling with missing documents and well-prepared witnesses to make a case against Perzel, a bombshell hit: The Tribune-Review revealed that Corbett was in possession of a smoking-gun email in which Bill DeWeese acknowledged that bonuses were awarded for campaign work.

Three weeks later, the Inquirer laid out a comprehensive case linking DeWeese to bonuses and other illegal campaign activities.

Facing accusations of partisanship, it would have been unseemly to charge another Democrat without first indicting a Republican or two. But remember: missing documents and well-prepped witnesses were hindering the investigation of Republicans.

Is it any wonder there was a shortage of investigators in Harrisburg?

Who's to say how Corbett would have handled the Sandusky investigation even if he hadn't tied up all of his agents playing catch-up on "bonusgate?" Even after Perzel and DeWeese were safely indicted, at least 10 agents from the OAG were spotted in the courtroom during each day of Mike Veon's trial, while others were busily trying to unmask Corbett's anonymous critics.

When Corbett and his cronies talk about how long the Sandusky investigation took, they're talking about the year between the time OAG agents first were assigned to the case and Sandusky's November 2011 arrest. They've studiously avoided a thorough accounting of the investigation's progress between March 2009 and Election Day 2010.

Friday, June 22, 2012


The credibility of Tom Corbett's pathetic excuse for waiting 18 months to begin a serious investigation of accused child rapist Jerry Sandusky suffered another blow today.

The sports journalism website Deadspin reports that prosecutors are standing by with the complaints of additional victims, ready to file charges in case Sandusky is acquitted.

But Corbett, who was Attorney General when the first complaint about Sandusky surfaced, claimed the investigation took so everlastingly long precisely because he wanted to avoid filing additional charges after an acquittal.

“[If] you were to lose that one case, it would be much more difficult to bring charges in other cases because it would be seen by you, by the public, as vindictive,” Corbett told the Pennsylvania Press Club in November.

Corbett claimed "the one thing you do not want to do as a prosecutor" is make an arrest on a single complaint (even though prosecutors, including Corbett himself, do it all the time). But Corbett made almost no effort to identify any other victims until 18 months later, when investigators from the Office of Attorney General finally were assigned to the case

Does Corbett think the prosecutors are making a huge, vindictive mistake? Do the prosecutors think the former Attorney General's legal strategy is full of hooey?

Or was Corbett just talking out of his ass, as usual, when he scrambled to make excuses for why he allowed an accused serial child rapist to remain free for nearly three years after receiving the complaint?

After all, could Corbett admit that he gave the Sandusky investigation short shrift because his investigators and his attention were tied up fixing his botched investigation of the legislature in time for the gubernatorial election?

We're not surprised that Corbett lied. We will be surprised if he gets away with it.

Friday, June 8, 2012


"How many times do you have to get hit in the face with a brick to know what's what?" – Prosecutor Patrick J. Blessington, during closing argument in "Bonusgate" trial.

How many times, indeed, Patrick J. Blessington?

According to the Legal Intelligencer, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams's campaign improperly sent an email to his deputies on their public email addresses, inviting them to a fundraiser.

Patrick J. Blessington, the former deputy Attorney General who prosecuted state officials and staff for precisely this kind of abuse of office, is one of those deputy district attorneys.

Did Blessington - who proclaimed unequivocally that "It's against the law, a crime, to use taxpayer money to help somebody win an election" - open an investigation into this abuse of authority?

He did not. Which is not surprising, given his long history of overlooking illegal campaign work when it's performed by his own employer.

His office prosecuted state legislators for putting political operatives on the state payroll, but Blessington looked the other way when his own boss did the same thing.

His office prosecuted state legislators and staff for doing political work on state time, using state equipment, but Blessington didn't seem bothered by his own colleagues' political work on state time, using state resources.

John J. Contino, executive director of the state Ethics Commission, specifically compared the email to the "Bonusgate" case that Blessington prosecuted. He said the conflict-of-interest clause in the state Ethics Act has been interpreted to prohibit political activity when the public official uses aspects, benefits or attributes of the currently held incumbent office to advance those political or pecuniary interests.

Public election law expert Gregory M. Harvey said the fund-raising email could be construed as a violation of the "criminal prohibition of the use of public resources to carry on political activity.

Another lawyer called it "political macing" and said it could be a violation of both the state Ethics act and the federal Hatch Act.

Another said the email could be construed as "coercion."

Make no mistake, a similar email from a state legislator would have prompted Blessington to investigate. But when the perpetrator is Blessington's boss, Blessington sees no evil.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


An especially mean-spirited editorial in the Beaver County Times (we won't link to it) highlights the incredible double standard the Times applies to former Rep. Mike Veon and to his successor, Jim Marshall.

Yes, the Times' favorite whipping boy Veon was convicted of using state resources for political campaigns. But so was Republican John Perzel - and no one benefited more from Perzel's nefarious interventions than Marshall.

After Perzel directed a veritable tsunami of both legitimate spending and ill-gotten resources to Marshall's campaign in 2006, the very first vote Marshall cast upon assuming office was for Perzel for Speaker.

Marshall accepted Perzel's illegal campaign assistance in exchange for his vote for speaker. Make no mistake: Perzel never would have committed the resources to Marshall's campaign were he not assured of Marshall's Speaker vote. Marshall was a willing participant in the very same game the BCT finds so repugnant when Veon is the player.

And, of course, the mixing of politics and state work continued after Marshall assumed office.

Tom Corbett's own grand jury called the House Republican Office of District Operations "a wholly-owned subsidiary of the House Republican Campaign Committee." It was that taxpayer-funded Office that supported Marshall's campaign, with Marshall's full knowledge and consent.

And while there's nothing illegal about Marshall selling his vote for Speaker, can we honestly argue that Harrisburg would be better off if Marshall had gotten his way and Perzel had been re-elected Speaker?

Monday, June 4, 2012


Former Sen. Jane Orie has been sentenced to 2-½ to 10 years on crimes Tom Corbett refused to investigate.

It's undecided whether she should repay the taxpayers $1.3 million in legal fees.
Her attorneys argue she shouldn't have to reimburse the state, because Bill DeWeese, John Perzel and Mike Veon never had to repay legal fees incurred by the taxpayers.

There's a good reason Veon never was asked to repay legal fees - the taxpayers never spent a dime on Veon's legal fees. Veon was deposed from office long before the prosecutorial arm of the Tom Corbett for Governor Campaign even dreamed of the word "bonusgate." It was widely reported (then apparently forgotten) that Veon's lawyers unsuccessfully tried to have the House Democratic Caucus cover his legal fees.

DeWeese is another story. He paid a well-connected legal dealmaker at least $1.7 million in taxpayer funds to insulate himself from Corbett's initial investigation. He also used taxpayer dollars to pay the legal fees of staff members who agreed to testify against DeWeese's chosen targets.

Your taxpayer dollars nearly succeeded in keeping DeWeese out of hot water, until a leaked email revealed that Corbett had evidence of DeWeese's wrongdoing, and Corbett put the Sandusky investigation on the back burner while he scrambled to put together a belated, ass-covering indictment of DeWeese (suspiciously, not on bonus-related charges).

Because the House did not directly pay DeWeese's legal fees in connection with those non-bonus-related charges, DeWeese has not been asked to reimburse the taxpayers.

DeWeese's ability to bleed the taxpayers will not be hindered by his incarceration. His refusal to remove his name from the ballot, even though he will be ineligible to serve if he is elected, could cost the state another $150,000 for a special election. It's possible that before all is said and done, the citizens of the 50th Legislative District will have gone an entire year without representation in the House. Who will reimburse them?