Monday, February 24, 2014


Two weeks ago, Tribune-Review Capitol correspondent and columnist Brad Bumsted helpfully explained to readers that Attorney General Kathleen Kane's announcement about unexpectedly recovered emails means either her examination of her predecessor's astonishingly lengthy Jerry Sandusky investigation has turned up damaging information, or it hasn't.

This week, he's followed it up with the equally insightful observation that the Office of Attorney General's February 2011 email dump means either Tom Corbett had something to hide, or he didn't.

As evidence that he didn't, Bumsted offers up the fact that neither Corbett nor acting Attorney General Bill Ryan had any way of knowing in February of 2011 that Kane would be elected AG the following year, launch an examination of the Sandusky case and seek those very emails.

In other words, Bumsted is asking us to believe that it never would have occurred to Corbett, who built his signature legislative corruption cases largely on email evidence, that emails ever could be used against him.

It's true that Corbett and Ryan could not have forseen in February 2011 Kane's election and eventual examination of the Sandusky case.

But what certainly did occur to them in February 2011 is that a case the OAG had largely ignored for two years was now headed toward an indictment.

There's nothing in the public record to suggest that Corbett ever seriously intended to investigate Aaron Fisher's complaint against Sandusky.  Corbett has publicly declared that he had determined he could not pursue the case without additional victims. And although Sandusky's charity The Second Mile put Sandusky in well-documented contact with hundreds of potential victims - Sandusky had even included the names of some of his victims in his 2001 memoir, Touched - for two years, no one from the OAG ever reached out to any of them.

It's fair to suppose that if the case had relied solely on the investigative efforts of the OAG, Jerry Sandusky might still be a free man.

In December of 2010, the mother of Victim 6 reached out to investigators after journalist Sara Ganim gave her their contact information.

Victim 6's complaint against Sandusky had been investigated by Centre County authorities in 1998. Corbett's office ostensibly had been investigating Sandusky since March of 2009. That they could have failed to identify Victim 6 over the course of two years - if they had been looking - is inconceivable. It's impossible to conclude that they were doing any active investigation during that time.

It was Victim 6's mother who told investigators about the book, Touched - again, it defies imagination that they wouldn't have known about it had they been conducting an active investigation. It was she who went through the book with investigators and identified victims 3, 4, 5 and 7.

Now that they had identified additional victims - and more importantly, now that Sara Ganim knew they had identified additional victims - it was clear by February 2011 that the case would proceed to an indictment.

Corbett and Ryan didn't need to forsee Kane's investigation to know how politically damaging emails from the two-year period when the case was inactive could be to Corbett.

What might the OAG have been discussing over email in the years before the email dump?

Aaron testified twice to the grand jury, to no effect, in June and November of 2009, according to his book, Silent No More. Why was he forced to do this when Corbett already had determined not to proceed without additional victims, and none had been identified by then?

Deputy AG Jonelle Eshbach told Aaron at least twice that an arrest was imminent: in February of 2010, again in March of 2010. Again, Corbett says he determined from the beginning he would not make an arrest without additional victims, and those victims weren't identified until December 2010 at the earliest. Why would Eschbach be talking about an indictment in February and March? A search warrant wasn't even executed on Sandusky's  home until June 2011.

In mid-August 2010, Eschback ignored repeated phone calls from Aaron's psychologist, Mike Gillum. When they finally spoke, Gillum said Aaron's mother wanted to go to the FBI.

It's not hard to imagine that all of these events and others like them were hot topics of email conversations within the OAG. And it's not hard to imagine that these events, which happened at a time when no one in the OAG thought anything would come of Aaron's complaint, took on quite a different cast in light of Sandusky's imminent arrest.

Bumsted muses, "If the email deletions were aimed at protecting anyone, the timeline suggests it had more to do with Corbett's public corruption cases pending at the time."

We won't suggest that Corbett didn't have plenty to hide about the pending cases - which, like Sandusky, were cases he never intended to pursue until public pressure forced his hand. But the accusations that he'd been playing politics with the legislative cases had been flying for years, with no lasting damage - after all, the only victims were unpopular politicians and their staffers.  Two years of dragging a child rape victim through hell? That's a different story.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


How long does it take the most sophisticated law enforcement agency in the sixth-largest state in the nation to track down a single victim of a prolific serial rapist who preyed upon a concentrated population of children and even included some of their identities in his own autobiography?

We may never know.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


The US Department of Justice recently indicted former Governor Bob O'Donnell in Virginia for accepting gifts from a businessman in exchange for favors (Associated Press 1/21/2014). Now, it is hard at work in New Jersey investigating Governor Chris Christie's involvement in the lane closures onto the George Washington Bridge and real estate developments in Hoboken.

When will one of the US Attorneys in Pennsylvania begin an investigation of Governor Tom Corbett's relationship with fracking waste hauler John Moran? 

There were gifts exchanged in return for very exclusive access for Moran and favors to his business. That certainly rises to the level of graft outlined by the O'Donnell indictment. And, we're talking about toxic fracking waste from the shale gas extraction industry. That has to be as important an issue as tying up traffic headed onto the George Washington Bridge for a few days.

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Will Bunch has done a fantastic job showing how within the span of a few months, Corbett received vacations and other gifts from Moran in exchange for a blind eye from the Corbett administration's Department of Environmental Protection. (Inquirer 1/16/13) In short, Corbett decided to allow millions of gallons of fracking waste to roll through dozens of Pennsylvania cities and counties in exchange for helicopter rides and a free vacation (State Impact 1/20/12)

Oh, Corbett tried to hide the gifts from the public, too. (Inquirer 1/20/12)

US Attorneys may also want to check into how Corbett used agents from the Office of Attorney General to intimidate Democratic State Representative John Galloway during Corbett's gubernatorial campaign in 2010. (Daily News)  Galloway had the temerity to question and have a public shouting match with the Attorney General over Corbett's laughably selective use of the grand jury investigating the state legislature. 

Keep in mind that the grand jury report on the PA General Assembly as a whole - not just the bonusgate figures - said "hundreds of legislative employees who, although paid by taxpayer dollars to do legislative work, do campaign work on state time." (28th Statewide Grand Jury Report Number One) So, when agents with subpoena power showed up at Galloway's office immediately after his spat with the Attorney General, it wasn't a subtle message from Corbett to the legislator that "you will be next if you don't shut up."

In New Jersey, US Attorneys are investigating how Christie's Lieutenant Governor was a messenger to the Hoboken mayor on a controversial real estate development.  How are two law enforcement officers barging into Galloway's office any less a scene of intimidation that that?  Based on the grand jury report of the ENTIRE state legislature, Galloway certainly had reason to be concerned if subpoenas started landing in his Capitol and district offices. Just look at what is happening to State Senator Leanna Washington after someone decided to look a bit closer at the work her taxpayer funded staff did on her campaign (Inquirer 10/24/13).

Maybe one of Pennsylvania's three US Attorneys are already investigating Corbett's connections to Moran or his unethical use of the Office of Attorney General as a tool of political intimidation. If not, there certainly is enough here - and publicly reported - to look into. Let's hope they get to work.