Friday, March 15, 2013


"So the presentment says Brimmeier and six others broke the law to benefit legislative leaders and governor, but the legislative leaders and governor are not charged. Kane said that was because there was no evidence that showed those folks knew what was happening on their behalf." -- Capitolwire Bureau Chief Pete DeCoursey, "Turnpike probe results in alleged 'Immaculate Corruption," Capitolwire 3/13/13 (subscription required)

Could someone please run over to the offices of the Senate Republican leadership and check to see if the doors are marked with the blood of a spring lamb?

Decoursey  wonders why only one legislative leader was charged in a corruption scandal in which witnesses plainly testified that contracts went to campaign donors for former Governor Ed Rendell, ex-Sen. Vincent J. Fumo,  ex-Senate Majority Leader Robert Jubelirer and others.

The presentment is riddled with lists of contributions to Rendell and Senators #1, #2, #3, #4 and #6 - and those are only the contributions of those contractors whose records were examined.  Senators #1, #2, #3, #4 and #6 aren't charged - and who knows who else may have benefited from the pay-to-play scheme?

Attorney General Kathleen Kane and said no other elected officials were charged because investigators found no evidence of wrongdoing. We ask the same question we have asked before: did they look?

While the presentment is heavy on the testimony of Mellow's former Chief of Staff, there appears to be not a single reference to testimony from any Senate Republican staffers:

"A former Chief Operating Officer of the Turnpike explained, “the choice of who the - - which firms they are, as I said, typically, there was always a 60/40 rule, . . . that selection, depending on what year, and who the governor was, and who was on the State Senate, it would either come out of the Senate leadership or out of the Governor’s office.” In practice, the Senate provided direction to the Commission through their staff persons." 

Assuming that 60% of the contracts went to Democratic donors during the Rendell Administration - though Republicans had and retain a majority in the Senate - why is there no testimony about how 40% of the contracts were awarded? Why is the Democratic Chief of Staff the only legislative employee named in the presentment? Did any other staff member testify?

Throughout Tom Corbett's politically-motivated investigation of illegal campaign work among the General Assembly, his failure to charge certain suspicious officials consistently was glossed over with the pseudo-excuse that the Grand Jury found no evidence of their culpability.

That's because no one brought it to them. Not a single Senate Republican staffer was subpoenaed to testify in that case.
In 2008, prosecutors at least made a (hilarious and clumsy) attempt to justify why no charges were filed against Bill DeWeese regarding the use of a state-paid contractor for purely political work, despite emails from DeWeese and his top aides Tom Andrews and Kevin Sidella blatantly directing the state-paid contractor to perform purely political work: DeWeese had used his campaign email account, and not his official House account, to misappropriate the taxpayers' money (we told you it was hilarious and clumsy).

Not even a token effort was made in the Turnpike investigation explain why no Senate Republicans were charged in a scheme which was directed in part by Senate Republicans and clearly benefited Senate Republicans.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Laurel Brandstetter - who began the investigation under then-AG Corbett just prior to the launch of his gubernatorial campaign - and who prosecuted the politically-motivated B.I.G. case against Mike Veon - appears to have given Corbett's friends and supporters a pass yet again.
"If you say, as this presentment does, that governors and senators created a climate of corruption at the Turnpike commission, how is it that Kane admitted to having no proof or insufficient proof to name any of them but Mellow?

I guess it is appropriate that on the day the new Pope was named we have the miracle of a presentment that outlines an entire culture of corruption where the middlemen are named and charged with crimes but the folks they were allegedly obeying while doing the crimes, are neither named nor charged.

Up until now, especially in Pennsylvania, I had never heard of Immaculate Corruption."


Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think its sad for Bret to continually update this site? Go towards the light man. Its time to move on.

Anonymous said...

The grand jury system is broke and should be put to death in PA. The public does not realize that the grand jury is totally controlled by the prosecutors. There is only one side of the story that is presented and the grand jury is used for political cover to hind prosecutors' abuse of the law.

Prosecutors control the subject, witnesses, evidence and write the presentment. And politicians refer to the grand jury as the action committee. It is a joke. They see what is put in front of them and nothing more.

It is interesting how Corbett and Linda Kelly developed the Turnpike case against Democrats and then dropped it on Kane to prosecute, Democrat on Democrat.

More political manipulation by Corbett. The House needs to prepare impeachment articles.

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for them go after SEPTA Board too. The SEPTA Board makes the TP guys look like Cub Scouts.

Anonymous said...

How about the Supreme Court involvement in the Philadelphia Family Court building fiasco, and the contracts at the Delaware River Port Authority. AG Kane might also want to reread the grand jury report on the State Gaming Board. And how can they say the "middlemen" were charged in this case when it appears the people giving the orders and calling the shots testified under immunity.

Anonymous said...

Answer to sad anonymous. No. Maybe you should take antidepressants. They'll help when you are called to the grand jury and/or indicted.

Anonymous said...

Good column. It does look like the GOP is getting yet another pass.