Leak Says Kane to be Indicted

According to press accounts a leak from a secret grand jury says Attorney General Kathleen Kane will be indicted for leaking secret grand jury proceedings to the Philadelphia Daily News to attack an enemy.  It’s ironic that the news comes via a leak.  It makes one wonder if it’s really a crime after all if the PA Supreme Court grand jury, begun by former Republican Chief Justice Ronald Castille and run by GOP District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman of Montgomery County leaked this information.  Who will now investigate this leak?

If it feels like a merry-go-round it is.  Of course my issues with Kane go back to the Pennsylvania Democratic primary for AG when Kane ran false claims against her opponent Patrick Murphy.  Her campaign made blatantly false assertions about him to damage his credibility with voters.  When I called them out on it they lied about giving me the information (it was given to me in a telephone call by her campaign communications director).  Kane then lied about it on PCN when a viewer called in questioning her veracity.

Since then Kathleen Kane has been in a downward spiral due to her penchants for attacking her political foes and for lying.  She made numerous assertions about why she wouldn’t prosecute numerous public officials caught on tape accepting bribes.  Philadelphia DA Seth Williams then took the case and, so far, has obtained three convictions.  Not only was the case prosecutable but Williams held a press conference and proved that Kane’s assertions about the cases were all lies.

Oh what a tangled web we weave…

Kane’s political carreer has been like a meteor:  up quickly and then burned out in flames.  Mentioned just last year as a possible contender for the U.S. Senate seat held by Tea Bagger Pat Toomey (up for re-election next year) she now is facing disgrace and a possible criminal conviction.

Ferman has now to decide when and whether to arrest the state’s sitting Attorney General.  She is not running for re-election so isn’t facing dire political consequences thus she can make this decision free of that baggage.  Current MontCo Commissioner and former DA Bruce Castor (a good man) has announced his candidacy to seek his old job.  He is the minority Commissioner and being DA would give him much more job satisfaction.

Schwartz Officially Enters Gubernatorial Race

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz officially launched her campaign for Governor yesterday.  Tom Corbett is rated the most vulnerable incumbent Governor in the country and prominent Democrats are lining up to evict him from Front Street in Harrisburg.  Schwartz joins former Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, former DEP Secretary John Hanger and evangelical fundamentalist preacher Max Myers in the field.  State Treasurer Rob McCord will enter the race soon and rumors continue to circulate around Admiral Joe Sestak.

Gov. Gasbag’s painfully low approval numbers (26%) and high disapproval (49%) have led to a strong field of challengers.  Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor has launched a website in preparation of a GOP challenge and another Montco Commish Josh Shapiro is also considering a run.

The fact Corbett slashed education funding while giving those funds to corporations as tax breaks has driven his poll numbers to the basement.  

Schwartz is progressive on social issues but not economic social ones.  Her record is something of a corporate Democrat and would normally allow the Pennsylvania progressive community to get behind such a candidacy.  In this race however both Wolf and McCord easily outpace her in progressive credentials.  With another strong turnout of women voters however she could win the primary.  There is substantial doubt about her ability to win statewide due to her past ties to a Philadelphia abortion clinic.  Though that should not actually hurt her (abortion is a constitutionally protected right) it will in western Pennsylvania where even the Democrats are conservative.

It’s going to be a heck of a race.

Handicapping the Governor’s Race

With just a Superior Court contest on the ballot this year political action around the Commonwealth is focused on next year’s race for Governor.  Tom Corbett’s inability to govern has created a wide open race and may even have him facing a formidable primary challenger.  Latest numbers on Gov. gasbag have him at a 26% approval rating and prompted Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz to jump into the race.  Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce castor launched a website recently around his probable challenge.  The conundrum for the GOP is how to keep control of the Governor’s Mansion after the Corbett debacle and against a strong field of Democratic contenders.  They also include Treasurer Rob McCord, businessman Tom Wolf, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and possible Admiral Joe Sestak.  John Hanger is a hanger-on and Max Myers’ candidacy is clouded by his involvement in a fringe religious organization (more about that in the future).

Bruce Castor is someone I’ve known for some years dating back to his time as Assistant District Attorney.  He oversaw the prosecution when a nephew’s wife was murdered.  Every year we see each other at a candlelight vigil in MontCo for families of homicide victims.  That was strained for a few years following an infamous series of emails he sent me while running for re-election as Commissioner.  His ticket mate Jim Matthews was accepting large campaign contributions from convicted felon Bob Asher and Castor had condemned Corbett for taking that dirty money when he ran against him for Attorney General (Castor and Corbett have a long history).  I asked where Bruce’s outrage was about Matthews taking Asher’s money and he responded with an email trashing Matthews.  That story wound up on the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer.  Still, I greatly respect Castor and his response to my question illustrated he still had his strong ethics and morals.  He would be a vast improvement over Corbett.

Still, Bruce Castor is a Republican with conservative ideology.  I respect the man but would support a real progressive with ethics and high morals.  For me there are three men I wouldn’t hesitate endorsing for Governor:  Sestak, Wolf and McCord.  I don’t know if Joe is prepared to enter the race but he sure sounded like a candidate while stumping for other candidates last year.  With this strong field he’s better off keeping his powder dry and waiting to challenge Sen. Toomey in a few years.

Tom Wolf is someone I met at the recent Democratic State Committee meeting.  He served as Revenue Secretary for Gov. Rendell and runs the family business in York.  Wolf ranges and stoves are the class of their field but the company hit hard times when the Bush Recession hit in 2008.  He briefly sparred with running to succeed Rendell then pulled out to save the company which he did.  He is known as a real progressive.  I hope to sit down with him in the near future and review issues and hear his vision for Pennsylvania.

I’d love to do the same with Treasurer McCord.  We had brief conversations in both Hershey and Harrisburg and his progressive credentials are well known.  He is the only Democratic candidate to have run statewide and won (twice).  He is popular and, like Wolf, able to raise the large sums needed to win a race for Governor.  He was a venture capitalist on Wall Street and has access to deep pockets.  His distinct advantage over Allyson Schwartz is he has attended both State Committee and the Progressive Summit while the Congresswoman chose to stay home.  The Party endorsement vote next January will be important and he has wined, dined and spoken with those delegates while Schwartz chose to ignore them.  I’ve covered many of their meetings and those state committee persons have long memories about who solicited their support and who did not.  He had the entire lunchtime podium and an audience of 600 progressives from 42 counties at his feet yesterday.  He was able to give his argument for being the nominee to them while all Schwartz had were some surrogates who left “Draft Allyson” flyers on the tables.  These were huge mistakes for the Congresswoman.

I’ve covered Allyson Schwartz for some years.  She last ran statewide in 2000 in the primary to run against Sen. Rick Santorum.  She came in second in a large field which was split east/west.  Ron Klink, the only western Pennsylvania candidate, swept to that nomination and proceeded to fail miserable in the general election running as an anti-choice Democrat.  Allyson Schwartz is known as a strong pro-choice, women’s rights candidate and as a champion of SCHIP.  Many progressives criticize her Wall Street money ties and consider her a corporate Democrat.  She is against single payer health care for example.

Jack Wagner may be a dark horse who enters the race if he sees an opportunity to exploit the east/west divide.  A former Auditor General, he could defeat a field composed of eastern candidates because western Pennsylvanians have been known to be extremely provincial.  They hate Philadelphians with a passion and have voted for bad candidates in the past just because they’re from the west (Dan Onorato for example).  This mentality has really hurt Democrats in the past and another anti-choice Democrat (Wagner) running statewide would mean a second Corbett term.

All in all this will be an extremely interesting race.  There is much at stake and progressives need to determine who is really a progressive and get behind that person fully to defeat Gov. Gasbag.

MontCo GOP Fails to File Campaign Finance Report

The Montgomery County Republican Committee has failed to file the required campaign finance report for cycle 5 as required by state law.  This is especially interesting because the Commissioners team of Bruce Castor and Jenny Brown has given them $305,000 in the last month.  Where was that money spent, on what and to whom?  This is a major County Commissioner’s race and a substantial amount of campaign spending is being hidden from voters in MontCo.  It doesn’t bode well for the sort of ethics and management the people of Montgomery County could expect from a Castor/Brown majority.

From MontCo Dems:

“They are hiding something, and the voters of Montgomery County deserve to know what that is,” (Marcel) Groen said.  “Campaign finance laws are there to make sure the public knows from whom the candidates and the parties raise their money, and how they spend it.  To thumb your nose at the law and the voters like that is just plain wrong.”

              Groen said that the campaign of Bruce Castor and Jenny Brown made three contributions to the Montgomery County Republican Committee totaling $305,000 over the past month.  The first transfer of $75,000 took place on October 6.  Another $100,000 was transferred on October 11, and a final $130,000 was transferred on October 17.

              “With the Brown Castor campaign transferring that money to MCRC and then MCRC not filing their report, it amounts to a massive shell game on the voters of Montgomery County,” Groen said.  “I call on (Montgomery County Republican) Chairman (Robert) Kerns to file his report immediately and stop breaking the law.”

Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards have a new ad out:

News & Notes June 22, 2011

I had to drive to Exton this morning and was near Rt 322 where Ryan Dunn crashed and burned taking a Navy SEAL to die with him.  Police say he was going 130 mph at 3 am after visiting a West Chester tavern.  He had a history of wild, reckless driving.  The lesson here is when you drive like a jackass you die like a jackass.  I never watched Jackass, I can see enough of them driving Pennsylvania’s roads every day.  Why glorify stupidity?

President Obama will address the nation tonight about a gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan.  Someone remind me, now that OBL is dead what IS the mission?  I’ll be on a 3:30 PM White House conference call previewing the speech.

Clarence Thomas is corrupt and must resign.  The New York Times expose which hit Sunday shows exactly how unethical this Justice is and his time has come and gone.  Go get your dirty Coke can Justice Thomas and try and learn a few ethics before you go down as the next Abe Fortas.  Combine this with his repeated failures to reveal his wife’s $800,000 in fees from The Heritage Foundation and other sources and the bottom line is simple:  we have a thoroughly corrupt Supreme Court Justice.

Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards might just gain control of Montgomery County for Democrats.  They have $378,000 cash on hand in their joint committee compared with $37,000 for Bruce Castor and Jenny Brown.  PhillyBurbs.com called them “money magnets.”  While money doesn’t insure victories in an expensive TV market it is absolutely necessary for a good result on election day.

The National Labor Relations Board reviewed organizing rules for unions and yesterday released revisions shortening the time for workers to vote on union membership.  This will help level a very unbalanced playing field for Labor.  The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO sent a press release yesterday from national President Richard Trumka:

Although we are still reviewing the proposed new changes from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), they appear to represent a common sense approach to clean up an outdated system and help ensure that working women and men can make their own choice about whether to form a union.

When workers want to vote on a union, they should get a fair chance to vote.  That’s a basic right.  But our current system has become a broken, bureaucratic maze that stalls and stymies workers’ choices.  And that diminishes the voice of working people, creates imbalance in our economy and shrinks the middle class.    

With the proposal of these new standards, the Board is taking a modest step to remove roadblocks and reduce unnecessary and costly litigation-and that’s good news for employers as well as employees. The proposed rule does not address many of the fundamental problems with our labor laws, but it will help bring critically needed fairness and balance to this part of the process.

Unfortunately, in today’s poisonous political environment, any action by the Board may unleash a torrent of attacks from politicians and ideologues opposed to any protection of workers’ rights. We call on leaders from both sides of the aisle to defend the independence of the NLRB. Political interference with any independent agency sets a dangerous precedent that should not be tolerated.

Bethlehem is the latest Pennsylvania municipality to approve a comprehensive civil rights ordinance.  It now goes to Mayor John Callahan who introduced the bill.  From The Pennsylvania Diversity Network:

June 21, 2011, Bethlehem, PA — Following a three hour public meeting, the City Council of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania voted unanimously to send the proposed non discrimination ordinance back to Mayor John Callahan for his signature. The ordinance was introduced by Mayor Callahan in September 2010 and previously passed unanimously through the Human Resources and Environment Committee and the First Reading of City Council. Mayor Callahan is expected to sign the bill into law.

Adrian Shanker led the coalition effort to pass this ordinance. Shanker, who is Vice President of Pennsylvania Diversity Network, built a coalition of more than 100 business, faith, labor, arts, education, and civil rights organizations in support of the ordinance. “We won tonight, but there were no real losers,” stated Shanker. “The Bethlehem community was loud and clear that they want Civil Rights protections, and the City Council tonight listened and voted accordingly.” Shanker continued, “This law helps working people, it helps small business, it protects religious freedom, and most importantly, it makes discrimination illegal in the City of Bethlehem.”

“I would be hard-pressed to find a vote that I support more than the one I’m voting on tonight” said Councilperson J. William Reynolds as he cast his vote in favor of this ordinance. Reynolds is not alone his sentiments. Mike Fegley of the popular Bethlehem Restaurant, the Bethlehem Brew Works stated, “this is the ethical thing to do in Bethlehem.” Before passing the ordinance, Council voted to clarify the religious exemption and retain expanded powers, such as subpoena power, for the Human Relations Commission., following requests from many supporters of the ordinance

Broad support for the law did not end in Bethlehem. Testimony was provided by the AARP of Pennsylvania, Equality Pennsylvania, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, Communities in Schools, and the Indian American Association of the Lehigh Valley, among others. Ted Martin, Executive Director of Equality Pennsylvania attended three of the four public meetings on the issue. Following tonight’s vote, Martin said, “I can only hope that the Pennsylvania legislature will follow Bethlehem’s lead and pass a fully inclusive statewide non discrimination law.” Senator Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) has introduced this legislation in the Senate, and Representative Frankel introduced companion legislation in the House. The lack of a fully inclusive state law has caused 21 municipalities, including Bethlehem, to pass their own versions on the local level.

Bethlehem follows neighboring Allentown, Easton, and Reading in passing this law. Liz Bradbury led a similar effort in Allentown more than ten years ago and attended tonight’s meeting. “I am so pleased that I can now recommend Bethlehem as a safe place to live or work for members of the LGBT community” said Bradbury.

The President’s visit to CMU Friday coincides with a visit from family coming from North Carolina so I won’t be able to travel to the Iron City for this event.  He’ll be speaking about manufacturing jobs at the same time he pursues more “free trade” (the only thing free about them is the ease with which OUR jobs are lost) deals killing manufacturing here at home.

Elsewhere on the jobs front a Pennsylvania company in Exton is featured on the website for the National Export Initiative.  Analytical Graphics hosted an event last year highlighting its success which I covered for the Department of Commerce.

I was on a White House conference call Monday morning about foreign investment in the States expecting some significant announcement but none came.  While it’s nice to see companies coming here and hiring our masses of unemployed why aren’t we doing more to create our own jobs?

The Pennsylvania legislature is so busy creating jobs they haven’t had time for voter suppression, making it easier to kill people, easier to get drunk, harder to get a safe, legal abortion, and tougher to get an education while tossing 100,000 seniors, children and poor people off Medicaid.  Isn’t it nice to see all these newly furloughed teachers, state employees, fireman and cops being disenfranchised to solve a non-existent problem?  By the way the budget is due a week from Thursday and doesn’t appear to be ready.  What have they been doing all this time???

I’m having some Achilles Heel issues and haven’t been able to sit for extended periods at the computer.  I apologize for not being able to blog much this past week.  I’m wearing a brace at night and icing it constantly and some progress is being made towards recovery.  Its tough getting old…

MontCo GOP Chair: Democrats Are Infidels

Montgomery County Republican Chair Robert Kerns was quoted recently calling Democrats “infidels.”  That, of course, is a loaded term in an age where some Muslims use the word to justify killing innocent civilians.  It is Osama Bin Laden’s justification for killing 3,000 Americans on 9/11.  For someone who purports to lead a political party it is a reckless, irresponsible and foolish move on the order of Helen Thomas’ recent utterance.  Here’s his quote:

“We need you in this fight,” he said. “We’re fighting those Democrats – those infidels – all the time, and we need your help.”

In case Mr. Kerns doesn’t know it many “infidels” are serving their country and some are even Muslims.  Most adherents of Islam are actually law abiding, peaceful people who believe in the world of their god just as Mr. Kerns does his.  Calling folks like Admiral Joe Sestak, Major Bryan Lentz, Lt. Commander Manan Trivedi, and other Democrats “infidels” reminds me of the racist statements made on Facebook by the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania College Republicans (whom we exposed).  These are outrageous, offensive comments made by a stupid, foolish person who obviously isn’t intelligent enough to understand the meaning of his words.  I’d like to watch Mr. Kerns tell a man like Eric Alva he’s an infidel.

This is an outrage and Robert Kerns needs to apologize to Democrats and the MontCo GOP should demand his resignation.

Update:  Montgomery County Democratic Chair Marcel Groen released a statement regarding Mr. Kerns’ remarks:

Unnecessary, Unfortunate Remarks

By Marcel Groen, Chair, Montgomery County Democratic Committee

             I would like to congratulate my counterpart, Bob Kerns, on being unanimously re-elected chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Committee.  It has been a long time since there has been a unanimous opinion about anything among county Republicans.  Mr. Kerns should be proud.

             What Mr. Kerns should be less proud of are the comments he made upon being re-elected.  According to published reports, including one in this newspaper, Mr. Kerns, in exhorting the party faithful to work hard, said, “We need you in this fight.  We’re fighting those Democrats – those infidels – all the time, and we need your help.”

             Infidels?  Mr. Kerns fancies himself a student of history, so he should certainly understand the connotations of such a charged term.  In dictionary terms, it means “one who doubts or rejects central tenets of a religion, or one who has no religious beliefs”.  In practical terminology, it is a term that has been used to justify the killing of millions of innocents under the guise of religious purity.

             Politics may be Mr. Kerns’ religion, but in today’s political atmosphere in the United States, I think we need a little less “zealotry” and little more understanding and bi-partisanship. I do not think it is productive to dehumanize our political opponents, or use terminology that conjures up the need for murder.

I will fight hard to convince people that our positions on issues are better, but I respect my opponents, their beliefs and their patriotism.  Mr. Kerns does everyone a disservice by using a fanatical religious expression to describe his political opponents.

Politics is not a crusade. At its best, it is a debate between competing visions and beliefs, and in our country that means a debate between our two main political parties.  I may disagree with my opponents and their views, but I respect them and realize that the country we all love is better off for that legitimate and spirited debate.

The so-called infidels that Mr. Kerns referred to in his speech are his neighbors.  Like his righteous Republicans, those infidels coach Little League, volunteer in the community, attend the same churches, synagogues and mosques that Republicans attend and they are defending our country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Democrats are not infidels, Mr. Kerns.  They are working men and women, patriotic Americans, and people who simply have a different view than you do of the role of government in our society.

             We have all seen and heard the excessively personal and destructive language used by all sides in the political discourse across this country in recent years.  People and ideas are routinely branded with historical and evil epithets.  Our Congress and legislatures have been frozen into inaction and gridlock by the same type of rigid ideology and lack of civility.

             When this type of behavior occurs we are all demonstrating an “infidelity” to our Constitution and the vision and dream that our Founding Fathers had for our political discourse and our society as a whole.  I urge Mr. Kerns to raise the tenor of the debate.  Our ideas are fair game, as are his, but I will not allow him to denigrate and dehumanize his fellow Americans, in particular, Montgomery County Democrats, without challenging his brand of political speech.


Pottstown Mercury, Castor Reveal Stupidity on Campaign Finance

I’m astounded at the level of ignorance in this Pottstown Mercury article.  Don’t Tony Phyrilliss’s reporters do any fact checking?  A simple phone call to Harrisburg would have enlightened them that county candidates don’t file campaign finance reports with the state.  Only candidates for judicial or state positions are required to file with the Pennsylvania Department of State.  County and local candidates ALL file with their county elections services.  These are readily available to anyone at every county courthouse.

The Mercury published this “in depth” investigative piece implying something corrupt is going on in Montgomery County because some imbecile doesn’t know that simple fact.  Had the reporter called Harrisburg and asked the good people at the DoS would have told them to go to their courthouse for the records.  Duh?

Worse, the idiot is a woman named Betsy McBride whom they claim is a former Deputy County Treasurer.  You’d think, maybe, a former Deputy County Treasurer would know that County Commissioner candidates file their campaign finance reports with their county.  No, instead she looked at the state then complained to a clueless reporter that they weren’t available.  The reporter then wrote a story making people think their County Commissioners are hiding something.  

Bruce Castor got involved saying he’d put this on the next meeting of the Montco Elections Board.  The County Commissioners sit as each County’s Election Board.  You’d think Bruce would know where he files his campaign finance reports wouldn’t you?  Wouldn’t you think he could have explained this to Ms. McBride or the moronic Mercury reporter?  Maybe he decided to have fun with them and help make fools out of their clownish reporting.  Here’s a snippet from this heavy hitting investigative report by The Mercury:

“My concern is there have been a lot of accusations about the misuse of campaign funds now that the candidates have been elected,” she said.

McBride claims she’s been unable to access records of expenditures for any of the three commissioners in 2008 and 2009 on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Web site, according to her letter dated Feb. 25, 2010.

Castor asked election board solicitor Joseph Bresnan for legal advice on whether the matter should be added to the board’s next agenda.

Please, someone explain to these people that every one of these reports is at the Montgomery County Courthouse.  Perhaps they need directions.  I hope they can see far enough beyond their myopic worldviews to see the building once they arrive.  Ask for “election services.”

Hoeffel: Castor Meets Fumo

Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel has released a statement regarding fellow Commissioner Bruce Castor’s illegal behavior while serving as District Attorney.  He’s keeping the heat on current DA Risa Ferman to actually do her job.  The statement:

Dear Friends:

In all my years in public life, I have never seen a politician appear to incriminate himself at somebody else’s trial.

But that is exactly what Commissioner Bruce Castor did two weeks ago when he testified for the defense at the criminal trial of former Senator Vince Fumo.

The good news is that Castor’s astounding admissions have opened the door to the most significant reforms of our county Ethics Code since I helped establish the code 15 years ago.

Under a withering cross examination by the federal prosecutor, Commissioner Castor admitted under oath that when he was DA and running for Attorney General he directed a subordinate attorney in the DA’s office to perform political activity and political fundraising on county time.  Further, Castor admitted using his county office for political meetings with his campaign manager and his fundraiser and using the county email system to schedule the meetings and invite his subordinate to attend, again on county time.

This activity is wrong on so many levels.  It violates our county Ethics Code and probably several state and federal criminal statutes as well.  The stunning irony of the testimony is that Castor seemed to be admitting to the same offense for which Senator Fumo is on trial:  defrauding the government of the honest services of a subordinate employee by directing that employee to perform political work on government time.

You can hear the audio tape of this jawdropping testimony on the website of the federal court for the Eastern District of PA through the PACER account (Public Access to Court Electronic Records).

I called on our new DA, Risa Ferman, to investigate Castor’s activities, knowing that the Republican powers in Montgomery County would try to sweep this controversy under the rug.  DA Ferman immediately tried to do that very thing, criticizing me for grandstanding and – with no investigation – stating she saw no criminal activity.  Since then the DA and I have met to discuss the matter.  She is considering my request and I still hope that she will conduct a serious investigation, but I am not holding my breath.

At last Thursday’s public meeting I offered several reforms of our Ethics Code for a future vote.  In addition to updating the code, requiring more financial disclosure and improving enforcement, we need to de-politicize the everyday workings of county goverment. I suggest we prohibit key policymakers and employees with discretionary legal and financial authority from running for office or fundraising for any candidate.  This would effect well over 100 employees, such as the commissioners’ senior staff, key department heads, and lawyers in the offices of the Solicitor, Public Defender and District Attorney.  This reform would be similar to political bans in place in the Philadelphia and Manhatten DA’s offices, U.S. Attorney’s offices nationwide, the Governor’s appointees in state government, and our own county court.

Simply put, the proper use of discretionary government power is too easily corrupted, in fact and appearance, by the demands of political campaigning and fundraising.  We must shield these critical employees from the political process and from political bosses.

Montgomery County government needs ethical reform and I will keep fighting for it.  Stay tuned and I will keep you posted.  And please let me hear from you!

If Risa Ferman is going to refuse to investigate she should resign now and allow a DA with integrity to take over that office.  If Vince Fumo’s behavior was so serious as to trigger an FBI investigation and federal trial Castor’s deserves, at the minimum, a county investigation.  If not Ms. Ferman needs to be investigated for dereliction of duty.

Hoeffel Calls For Castor Investigation

On the heels of Bruce Castor’s sensational self incrimination during the Vince Fumo trial Joe Hoeffel has  called for an investigation.  Hoeffel and Castor are both Montgomery County Commissioners and Castor previously served as County District Attorney.  Risa Ferman succeeded fellow Republican Castor in the position and now is in an uncomfortable spot.  Doe she investigate her former boss or appear to be a political prosecutor who only investigates her opponents?

Bruce Castor testified for Vince Fumo and confessed he used the same operative as Fumo and at the same taxpayer expense.  It was also revealed that he used his office for political activity along with his official email account.  I can attest to that latter charge as I received political emails from Castor and reported it at the time (it was a well covered story).

Joe Hoeffel’s statement:

“In view of Bruce Castor’s testimony under oath yesterday in federal court, I am today asking District Attorney Risa Ferman to use her newly formed public corruption unit to investigate Commissioner Bruce Castor’s apparent violation of the Montgomery County Code of Ethics and possible violation of state and federal laws while he was district attorney.

“In court yesterday, Commissioner Castor admitted, under cross examination by the federal prosecutor in the trial of State Sen. Vince Fumo, that he had then Assistant District Attorney Christian Marrone do fundraising and other political activities related to Mr. Castor’s candidacy for state Attorney General.  The prosecution produced emails that were clearly political between Mr. Castor and Mr. Marrone sent on the county email system.  Mr. Castor also admitted that he held political meetings with Mr. Marrone in his county office and that Mr. Marrone conducted campaign activities on county time.

“This is a clear violation of our ethics code and a possible violation of state and federal statutes, and I believe that this type of activity is exactly what District Attorney Ferman had in mind when she christened her corruption unit.

Castor Admits Being A Crook

The Vince Fumo trial continues to be very interesting.  The defense began yesterday and called their first witness:  Bruce Castor.  He is the former Montgomery County District Attorney and now Commissioner.  I had an eye opening email exchange with Castor when he was running for County Commissioner.  All of his emails to me, political in nature, originated from his County email address and server.   They were written and sent on County time.

The prosecution established that Castor used his office for political work including emails:

Pease introduced e-mails, apparently kept and provided by Marrone, showing Castor campaigning on state time and using his county office for campaign meetings and governmental e-mail account for political communications.

Castor acknowledged telling federal investigators in a pretrial interview that he regretted using the county e-mail system for politics. “I probably shouldn’t have done that,” he told the investigators.

Castor testified yesterday that he did the same things Fumo did, some of the same things Vince Fumo is on trial for in federal court.  It seems that Christian Marrone who was an important prosecution witness once for Castor in the DA’s office doing the same illegal activities he performed for Fumo.  Castor and Marrone had a falling out when Castor ran for state Attorney General and Marrone supported his primary opponent Tom Corbett.  Marrone got fired for supporting Castor’s opponent, something to be expected.  The fact Castor hired Marrone to do similar political work on taxpayer time that he did for Fumo shows if one is a crook both are crooks.

If Vince Fumo is on trial for this we should expect to see Bruce Castor in the docket next.  Foolish move Bruce but it isn’t your first.  One would think a District Attorney would know better than to do political work on County time.  Unfortunately this is all too common in Pennsylvania.  So common that Vince Fumo’s defense is essentially that “everyone does it.”  That doesn’t make it legal.