Two Once Powerful Pols On Trial

Vince Fumo’s federal corruption trial resumes today in Philadelphia while former Superior Court Judge Michael Joyce’s insurance fraud case also goes to court.  Senator Fumo was once one of the most powerful officials in Pennsylvania brokering much important legislation through Harrisburg.  He is accused of defrauding taxpayers, his non profit and a museum of millions he used for his personal benefit.  A new judge in the trial delayed proceedings.

Judge Joyce is accused of faking injuries suffered in a car crash to finance a lavish lifestyle.  How the mighty have fallen due to their greed and hubris.

After a fender-bender in 2001, a Pennsylvania appellate judge claimed he was left in constant pain, unable to golf or swim or even at times hold a cup of coffee steady.

Yet the following year, prosecutors say, he was golfing regularly enough to keep up his handicap, piloted a plane at least 50 times and renewed his membership in an association of professional scuba divers.

DeWeese Knew According to Testimony

Majority Leader Bill DeWeese was fully aware Pennsylvania House staffers were working on campaign on taxpayer time and with taxpayer resources according to testimony today.  Mike Manzo, DeWeese’s former chief of staff who ran the illegal operation directly our of the Capitol, said DeWeese knew the bonuses paid to staffers who spent most of 2006 working on political campaigns were actually for their work on those campaigns.

DeWeese has denied any direct personal knowledge that his staff was running the House Democratic campaign Committee right under his nose.  Sure and I have some nice oceanfront property to sell you in Sedona, Arizona.

DeWeese has no comment.  Gee, isn’t that a remarkable change for the normally eloquent and loquacious liar.  

Republican Threatens Liberal Donors

A Republican with deep pockets has mailed 11,000 letters to liberal contributors with a very clear threat:  continue giving money to liberal interest groups and he’ll out you in your local community and, perhaps, insure you face criminal charges.

Vote suppression doesn’t get any uglier than this folks.  Ben Smith broke the story at Politico:

Your name has been put in our database. We are monitoring all reports of a wide variety of leftist organizations. As your name appears in subsequent reports, it is our intent to publicize your involvement in your local community. Should any of these organizations be found to be engaged in illegal or questionable activity, it is our intent to publicize your involvement with those activities. You should know that instances of coordinated voter fraud are surfacing all across America and investigations into possible criminal coordination are underway.

The letter was signed by Howard Rich on behalf of Americans For Limited Government.

Note:  this is unacceptable from either side of the ideological divide.

Captain Renault Comes to PA

Captain Louis Renault of “Casablanca” fame has arrived in Harrisburg and is opining on the hypocrisy surrounding BonusGate.  Quoting the famous movie character’s shock of discovering gambling going on at Rick’s cafe Americain you’ll recall this:

“I’m shocked, aboslutely shocked, to find there’s gambling going on in this establishment!”

Similarly Attorney General Tom Corbett is shocked to find there’s political campaigning going on in the state capitol!

The good Captain has launched a blog to show his outrage.  His statement:

The oftentimes cynical reporters and editors who cover politics in our state haven’t done much to point out the hypocrisy and double standards in the “Bonusgate” story.  Most of the Main Stream Media (MSM) here refuse to believe that politics could be injected into the justice system.

But Captain Renault knows better, and so do you.

In fact, we have seen this particular movie before and it’s a bad one.  For nearly two years, the MSM refused to take seriously the charges being made (mostly by bloggers) against the US Justice Department and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that politics were running rampant in what were supposed to be the halls of justice.

The bloggers would not let up and the MSM finally could not ignore the story any longer, and we know how that movie has ended.

Captain Renault was inspired by the bloggers who covered the Alberto Gonzales story.  As Bonusgate developed over the last 18 months or so, Captain Renault watched and read the developments like everyone else.  The longer the story went on the more clear it became that hypocrisy and double standards were ruling the day.

Corbett Will Not Charge Republicans Before Election

Attorney General Tom Corbett announced this week that he will not indict any Republicans in his BonusGate investigation before the election.  How convenient.  Bob Asher gets to flood Corbett’s campaign with his dirty money and gets this huge payoff as a result.  Asher doesn’t want his people in Harrisburg going down with the ship on November 4th so Corbett has quiescently complied with his benefactor.

Here’s an interesting letter making the rounds titled “Corbett Sold You A Bridge to Nowhere:”

House Democrats:

Just like Sara Palin and her bridge to nowhere, Tom Corbett is a liar.

Tom Corbett is lying about the conduct of his bonusgate investigation and Tom Corbett is lying about his motivations behind his latest decision to not bring charges against Republicans before the Election.

First, the conduct that partisan Republican liar Corbett ignores.

Corbett told the Morning Call yesterday, “I, and the career lawyers in my office, are conducting this investigation as thoroughly, fairly, honestly and as quickly as we can.”

Simply not true.

Four times as many Democratic staff as Republican staff have been subpoenaed. (AP 7/31/08; Patriot 8/14/08)  No Republican members have had to testify or have even been interviewed. (Post Gazette 8/16/08)  The schedule of the investigation has given the Republicans ample time to destroy evidence, most notably their hard drives and servers. (Patriot News 8/3/08)

Corbett strategically timed his investigation in order to give his Republican friends an opportunity to destroy evidence and prepare for what little window dressing of an investigation he felt he needed to do politically. This timeline clearly illustrates Corbett’s foot dragging:

4/16/07 – Corbett empanels Grand Jury (Tribune Review 4/12/07)

8/23/07 – Corbett raids Democratic offices (AP 8/30/07)

9/10/07 – Corbett compels House Democratic staff to testify before Grand Jury (Patriot 9/12/07)

10/22/07 – Corbett issues first subpoenas for House Republican documents (Post Gazette 10/24/07)

2/12/08 – Corbett issues first subpoenas for Senate Republican documents (Patriot 2/13/08)

Circa 8/1/08 – Corbett interviews first Republican House staff (Post Gazette 8/7/08)

This morning Pete DeCoursey with Capitolwire put it best:

“Corbett oversaw an investigation that managed to take nearly 19 months so far, and only charge House Democrats before a re-election, where he, a partisan Republican, is running for re-election. And in an election where many believe he could lose, especially if eastern Republicans dumped him, because, say, he just indicted a bunch of their pals, again, the smell here isn’t quite right.”

Now, let’s discuss partisan Republican liar Corbett’s motivation behind his decision to not bring charges before the election.

Corbett told the Tribune Review yesterday, “I know this investigation very well,” Corbett said.”I know that my office cannot present to the grand jury in that one week … all of the testimony and other evidence that will be necessary to complete the next phase of the investigation.”

Again, Corbett is fibbing about his real motivation.

Corbett’s own office has been illegally leaking to Dennis Roddy at the Post-Gazette that his supposedly fleet-footed investigators are looking at the huge political operation John Perzel, Brian Preski and John Hanley ran from the House Republican Caucus:

“Yesterday, several aides to former Republican Speaker of the House John Perzel, R-Philadelphia, were interviewed by prosecutors, according to a source close to the probe.” (Post Gazette 9/23/08)

Corbett is lying about being overwhelmed with evidence as his reason to not bring charges.  In reality, he succumbed to the pressure from Republican power brokers who understand that charges against Republicans before the election would hamper the GOP’s chances of taking back the majority in the House.  It is the same kind of pressure Dennis Roddy buckled under to when he erased his coverage of Brian Preski’s Fumo-esq use of Republican IT staff to wire his home. (Post Gazette 9/11/08 original; 9/12/08 changed)

And, it probably doesn’t hurt that John Perzel and Brian Preski have contributed over $50,000 to Corbett’s campaigns. (3/4/04 $25,000 from Citizens for Government Reform to Friends of Tom Corbett; 4/2/04 $1,219 in-kind from Friends of John Perzel to Friends of Tom Corbett; 10/18/04 $25,000 Friends of John Perzel to Friends of Tom Corbett; 12/31/07 $500 Brian Preski to Friends of Tom Corbett)

An even more blatant untruth is partisan Republican liar Tom Corbett’s assertion that he couldn’t begin investigating Republicans because he had no probable cause:

“Corbett responded that investigators must have probable cause for a search warrant, meaning they must show a judge evidence of wrongdoing.” (Tribune Review 9/23/08)

This is where partisan Republican liar Corbett is trying to close the sale of his bridge to nowhere.  And, he is hoping everyone will buy it.

Republican campaign activity in the Capitol has been known and written about for years.  Corbett is just choosing to ignore it.  Just refer to Mario Cattabiani’s item “A tangled web at statehouse” from 2/18/07 (yes, 2007, 20 months ago):

“[An animated Perzel political commercial] was parked online by the state House Republican Caucus, on a Web site funded by tax dollars.  So, too, were other campaign materials: photos of Perzel going door to door in his Northeast Philadelphia district, and a 20-minute video tribute narrated by his wife, Sheryl. There was even a 487-page primer on how to run legislative campaigns, produced by the Republican National Committee…. The site containing the campaign-related material was registered and paid for with state money by the House Republican Caucus.”

Even Steve Miskin admits it was blatantly illegal.  “It’s wrong. It should not have happened, and it should never happen.” (Inquirer 2/18/07)

This isn’t enough probable cause for Corbett to seize documents, issue subpoenas and begin his investigation?!?!?!

Instead, the Republicans were given ample time to purposefully and systematically destroy their hard drives over the summer of 2007. (Patriot 8/3/08)  Thus, eliminating evidence for Corbett to follow (even though he has shown no propensity to aggressively do so.)

There is still time to return this bridge to nowhere back to the partisan Republican liar Tom Corbett!!

He is slapping all of you in the face with not even a whimper from you.  Many of you are being battered in your campaigns because of Corbett’s bonusgate charges against Democrats.

Demand that he stop this partisan charade and bring charges against Republicans!!!

Corbett has the evidence.  Corbett has the probable cause.  But, just like Sarah Palin and her bridge to nowhere, he is hoping that if he lies enough times to you that you’ll all start believing him.

Tom Corbett is up for election this year so now we have the power-the power to throw him out of office for his malfeasance and dirty money.  It is time to get rid of an AG who is owned, lock, stock and barrel by a convicted felon.

BonusGate Spreading to GOP

BonusGate is beginning to affect the Republican House caucus as they try to use the scandal to capture seats this fall.  For some inexplicable reason the Republican Party seems to be deceiving voters into thinking only Democrats abused their tax dollars and used them for partisan political purposes.

Wrong.

The grand jury is now investigating the Republican caucus and is looking into a computer system, installed at taxpayer expense, used to catalog voters and track new registrations for partisan political purposes.

Within three years, the caucus was paying $1.8 million for a sophisticated database system that tracked information.

The contract, with Aristotle Inc., a Washington, D.C., data firm, is now the subject of a probe by a state grand jury. The jury has questioned current and former employees of former House Speaker John Perzel, R-Philadelphia.

A copy of the contract, obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, contains a May 30, 2003, amendment to an older contract between the House Republicans and Aristotle, outlining an array of services that at points openly refer to elections. Pennsylvania law forbids the use of state funds or resources for campaign purposes.

Both Parties abused the taxpayers and as the investigations continue both caucuses in both legislative bodies will be investigated and many more indictments will follow.  Unfortunately for Democrats Attorney General Tom Corbett timed his inquiries so the indictments of House Democrats would occur prior to his re-election effort got underway this fall.  The manipulation of state resources for political purposes goes much farther than simply the legislature.

BushCo: Sex, Drugs and Rigged Contracts

It’s good to be an oil executive with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in the White House.  It means you get rigged contracts and sex from the federal bureaucrats who are supposed to be regulating your industry.  Not only is the fox guarding the henhouse in this administration he’s screwing the hens.

The newest scandal coming from a scandal ridden administration is the Interior Department.  Interior employees took their duties a bit too seriously allowing executives from oil companies like Hess, Shell and Chevron to probe their interiors, do drugs with them, give them gifts and provide favorable contracts in return.

Remember who really got screwed before you re-elect Republicans to run this government.

Now we know what the Republicans mean when they chant “drill baby drill.”

Fumo Trial Commences, Finally

State Senator Vince Fumo, one of the most powerful and effective figures in Harrisburg, goes to trial today in Philadelphia.  The wealthy Senator and bank owner was allegedly obsessed with using “other people’s money,” including the taxpayers, to finance his lavish lifestyle, spy on ex lovers and political opponents, and abuse his public standing.

The 139 count indictment might have been larger if key aides hadn’t erased scads of computer files including emails.  As such Fumo escaped being tried for allegedly extorting $17 million from PECO to his non profit.  The head of the non profit is also on trial.  

Among the federal allegations are that Fumo used state and non profit assets to buy 19 Oreck vacuum cleaners for his homes, had state employees refurbish, maintain and repair his Philadelphia mansion and Harrisburg area farm, drive his cars to Massachusetts each summer for his vacation, and the personal use of a museum yacht and lavish meals (he was on the Museum Board).

Fumo was a force in Harrisburg and accomplished much.  Unfortunately his greed and hubris brought him down.  If it is said that power corrupts it corrupted Fumo completely.  Larry Farnese will be the probable successor to the First Senatorial District seat come January.

Mark Scott’s New Ethical Lapse

Berks County Commissioner Mark Scott has, again, committed a serious ethical lapse.  While sitting in his capacity as a Board of Elections Commissioner last Thursday he voted on a matter involving Exeter Township.  Scott’s partner, paramour and Executive Assistant Michelle Kircher sits as an Exeter Township Supervisor.

As such Scott should have recused himself from that vote.  This is a significant ethics violation.  He and his secretary have been a romantic couple for several years now and she wields undue influence over his decisions, especially regarding Exeter.  They attend many public meetings there together, as a couple.  The fact their relationship isn’t formalized with a marriage certificate does not negate its fact.  For him to sit and vote on a matter directly involving her job is a clear conflict.

Mark Scott has had previous challenges when it comes to ethics.  He slams the state ethics commission at every opportunity due to its finding him at fault when he attempted to use public funds for a private lawsuit against a landfill.  He gained financially from that settlement and the state made him share the proceeds with the county after using its money for his litigation.

Then earlier this year I caught him lying to my face.  Challenged about a smear campaign he orchestrated against a Democratic opponent using local Democratic smear artists he denied knowing the couple.  The problem is he was overheard giving the man the false information at a very public event:  2007 Earth Day at Centre Park.  Mark Scott is not to be trusted, especially when it comes to conflicts of interest.

CREW Sues For Cheney Interviews

CREW has filed suit to obtain records of interviews Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald conducted during his investigation of PlameGate concerning Dick Cheney.  Since the purposeful leaking of a covert CIA agent’s identity came primarily from the VP’s office these are important interviews.  They have yet to be released however as part of the extensive documents on file.

Why have so many other records been made public but not those involving Cheney?  Scooter Libby, his Chief of Staff, was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in this case so these are critical interviews so the public can better understand how the Vice President undermined our national security.