Following the resignation of Bob Kerns as Montgomery County Republican Chair, the GOP power brokers of the Philadelphia suburbs have announced that State Representative Mike Vereb will be their party's new leader (Philadelphia Inquirer 11/17/13).
There was a time when this news would raise nary an eyebrow in Harrisburg, but that was before the bonusgate investigations. Investigations that led to Vereb himself to call for a special, new "public integrity commission." (Repvereb.com 7/26/10)
We are very curious as to how Vereb will shoulder the tremendous number of new political campaign responsibilities. Vereb said it himself just a few days ago -- "It's a busy job." (Philadelphia Inquirer 11/13/15) We don't doubt him for a second. Montgomery County is ground zero for swing voters in statewide elections. Governor Tom Corbett will need things to go well here if he has any hope of being re-elected. Plus, the Philadelphia suburbs are prime territory for state legislative pick-ups for the Democratic caucuses next year. It is a big, busy job indeed.
Yet, how will Vereb find the time to do all this extra work without breaking the law a la bonusgate?
In addition to his responsibilities to the taxpayers and his constituents as a state legislator, Vereb is also the House Majority Caucus Secretary. Vereb has been very clear about the importance and the time commitment required of the position:
"As caucus secretary, Mike is responsible for helping to establish a legislative agenda and recording all official legislative activities in the House of Representatives." (Repvereb.com Bio)
In fact, when Vereb was first elected caucus secretary he outlined just how busy his new job would be:
"Vereb said because he had been elevated to a leadership post he would lose his committee assignments on the judiciary, insurance and gambling oversight committees. He will be spending more time in Harrisburg during the legislative session because the secretary has additional duties." (Times Herald 11/11/11)
Oh, and for his extra responsibilities and effort, Vereb gets paid $8,000 more dollars a year on top off his $83,000 base state legislative salary.
We're wondering how will he do it? How will Vereb give the taxpayers their money's worth? How is this guy going to steer the most important county for Pennsylvania's Republican Party while at the same time give an honest days work to the taxpayers who elected him - and who pay him a big, fat paycheck, along with gold-plated health and pension benefits?
Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman should keep a sharp look-out to track Vereb's operation and his use of perks. Will he be using his taxpayer funded vehicle for tooling around the county on Republican Party business? Who will monitor how much political campaign work his taxpayer funded staff in both Harrisburg and Montgomery County may end up doing - even "after hours."
As we've all seen, even after bonusgate, elected officials including State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin still used taxpayer resources for campaign purposes. Even after the scandals from 2008 and 2009, state legislators like J.P Miranda still hire ghost employees. For Vereb to say he is different just won't cut it.