Friday, May 10, 2013


The news that Pennsylvania's first elected Democratic Attorney General decided to not to press charges against the political insiders who used the Hershey Trust to line their pockets and set up lucrative deals for yet more insiders isn't much of a surprise.

Many will say it is vindication for GOP stalwarts like former Attorney General Leroy Zimmerman who let executive compensation and questionable real estate deals worth millions proliferate under his watch.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

However, it is important to note that there were enough shenanigans going on for Kane to demand reforms in how the Trust operates into the future.  But, some non-Pennsylvanian non-profit charity experts went so far as to call the Kane report "a joke" and "a whitewash." (Patriot News 5/10/2013)  Again, maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

It is also important to note, though, that Kane's top deputy is Adrian King.  King just happens to be the brother-in-law of current Hershey Trust officer John Estey. (Patriot News 1/9/2013 and Post Gazette 10/17/2011)  A relationship not too far removed from the controversial situation where the GOP's 2012 Attorney General candidate Dave Freed would have been investigating his father-in-law, Zimmerman.  And, for that matter, no less unseemly as then Attorney General Tom Corbett investigating Zimmerman, one of his closest political allies. (Inquirer 12/19/2010)

So, is Kane's report on how the Hershey Trust misspent millions of dollars meant for disadvantaged children just another example of nepotism and insiders taking care of one another?  Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Ah, the sweet smell of reform in the State Capitol!  Those "Gate" trials and the prosecution of the Orie sisters sure cleaned things up in Harrisburg.

Or have they?

Based on a very well-done bit of investigative reporting by Philly's Channel 29 reporter Jeff Cole, looks like State Representative J.P. Miranda is going to be facing an indictment very, very soon.  (Channel 29 5/7/2013)

Miranda was caught red-handed by Cole for keeping a ghost employee on staff.  This same practice led to charges against Bonusgate defendant Mike Manzo in 2008 after he hired his lover (and former Miss Rainy Day), Angela Bertugli (Post-Gazette 2/9/2010).  The grand jury presentment for the John Perzel prosecution in 2009 also went into great detail about the practice of hiring illegal ghost employees like former State Representative Sue Cornell (Patriot-News 11/24/2009).

Miranda was just elected in 2012, and yet immediately started his career in the House breaking the law by hiring a campaign aide to a $36,000 a year no-show job (with very good benefits worth tens of thousands more).  So much for the House of Representatives' vaunted reforms that were to keep such practices from ever happening again.  What the heck are the Human Resources staff (some of whom are paid in the six figures) even doing to let this kind of egregious abuse happen right under their noses in this age of "reform"?  There were months worth of unsigned time sheets in the Miranda situation ... were they merely for show or are the HR employees no better than ghosts, too?

How soon will newly minted Attorney General Kathleen Kane arrest Miranda?  When will the House Leadership ask for the resignations of the ethics compliance and human resources staff who were specifically given the task to never let this type of activity happen again?  We're counting the days.