Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SPARE US THE OUTRAGE


Professional fame-whore Eric Epstein last night shared with ABC 27 his mock outrage that a Senate staffer who testified against his former boss in the PA Turnpike "pay-to-play" scandal still has a job.

Sometimes, people who come clean on wrongdoing within their organizations are called "whistleblowers," and there are laws to protect their jobs. But in Harrisburg, it seems we reserve the sympathetic term for staff who testify against Republican lawmakers.

Not that there appear to be any in the PA Turnpike "pay-to-play" case.

Where is Epstein's outrage over the fact that Republican staffers - who did exactly what the Democratic staffer did, let's not kid ourselves - still have their jobs? Even more importantly, where is his outrage over the fact that Republican senators who accepted bribes and the contractors who bribed them have not even been inconvenienced, much less charged or publicly humiliated?

Staffers have borne the brunt of Tom Corbett's obsession with the legislature. Of the 25 people charged in the investigation that began with "Bonusgate," 20 were staffers or former staffers when they were charged. Judging by the grand jury presentments, only staff were forced to testify to the grand juries, and  save for Sam Smith, no sitting legislators were forced to testify at trial - despite  evidence of legislators' complicity. 

Charging - and subpoenaing - staff instead of legislators allowed Corbett to tell a tale full of sound and fury, with minimum disruption to the legislators whose cooperation he would need to advance his agenda as governor.  He quite pointedly did not charge Speaker of the House Smith, whose signature was on the illegal contracts that sent Perzel to prison. And Bill DeWeese, whose approval was needed on all caucus expenditures, was conspicuously absent from the original "Bonusgate" indictment. Had public pressure not forced his hand, the only sitting legislator Corbett would have charged was an ultimately-acquitted, sophomore rank-and-filer - not so coincidentally also a candidate for a competitive Senate seat.

Corbett repeated this pattern in the "pay-to-play" investigation, charging the PA Turnpike personnel who facilitated the scheme, but - with the exception of former Senate Minority Leader Bob Mellow -  not the legislators or contractors who benefited from the scheme.

The reason for this outcome is clear. Corbett didn't launch an investigation of corruption at the PA Turnpike. He launched an investigation of the Senate Democratic Caucus, after attention by federal investigators prompted suspicion about Corbett's original legislative corruption investigation. But then, Corbett never really launched an investigation of illegal campaign practices in the legislature - he launched an investigation of the House Democratic Caucus, which had just taken the majority.

The best way to damage the Democratic caucuses enough to put or keep them in the minority, but retain enough goodwill from individual legislators to protect his agenda? Focus on easily-expendible, non-voting staff.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought whistle-blowers were the good guys who did not benefit financially from the corruption they exposed. Eric is right. TV 27 News reported that this Senate staffer admitted to being part of the conspiracy.

Is there any doubt that Corbett used the Office of Attorney General for political purposes? Frank Fina was his First Lieutenant.

It is a sad day in Pennsylvania when the chief law enforcement officer and his prosecutors abuse the law in order to advance their power. Holding indictments for a favorable news day, deplorable!

Another staffer, Brian Nutt, wore two hats for Corbett; state paid OAG Chief of Staff and Corbett Campaign Manager. He alone could put Corbett in jail.

Is it true that Nutt participates with Corbett in Republican Senate meetings in the Capitol?

Brian please talk to Mrs. Kane and come clean.

Anonymous said...

Either charge staff uniformly, or not at all. The Turnpike probe seems to implicate staff in a much greater way than most of the bonusgate staffers, but some get convicted and lose their pensions, while others keep making absurd salaries with no consequencies. It was like the original explanation for handcuffing and perp walks - that's the policy, everyone is treated the same.

Except, by the second round the cuffs were on front, not behind the back. And by the third round, no handcuffs and no perp walk. No one asks when the same policy for all became a different policy for everybody.

And the real outrage is that the Senate staffer most implicated not only didn't get charged, he didn't get fired, either. Nor did Republican House staffers implicated, nor Democrat House staffers implicated. Don't Mr. Costa, Mr. Smith and Mr. Dermody feel any need to say to the public - we won't have active co-conspirators working in big jobs here? Justice in deed.

Anonymous said...

Brett Cott did far, far less than Tony LePore, or for that matter other House R and D staffers. How about equal justice under the law?

Anonymous said...

That's not really the point; many "Bonusgate" staffers who testified under immunity or plea bargains were more culpable than the staffers against whom they testified, but they took the deal and the defendants didn't. In this case, Republican staffers apparently weren't even called to testify. There was no investigation of any legislators other than Mellow.

Anonymous said...

Corbett cost Taxpayers over $3 Million in failed Lottery Studies?

Already, the costs of the consultants hired to assist the Corbett administration in that endeavor exceed $2.85 million, said Elizabeth Brassell, a spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, which oversees the lottery.

The same proposals and studies could have been done with Commonwealth Employees, especially since 4,000 are paid over $100,000 for their "Expertise"?

Maybe we need more In-House Lawyers and should Ban Campaign Contributions by Outside Law Firms, so we can avoid these pay for play Lawyers, Law Firms, and Friends of Tom Corbett?

Here's a hypothetical for all my Republican friends. Suppose at a stockholder's meeting, an executive announces that he has used $2.85 million worth of profit, which would have been paid out as dividends, to finance a project of questionable value and one which virtually none of the stockholders support.

He further announces that he intends to spend even more money on this project because he feels -- alone, apparently -- that it's a good idea.

My question is, would they just fire him or would they have him criminally charged as well?

You folks who genuflect at the word "corporation," answer that one for me.

Anonymous said...

A man driving down a back road in a brand new BMW pulls up next to the fence where a farmer is standing, the man gets out and says, "Hey Mr. Farmer, if I can tell you how many sheep you have out in your 50 acre field here will you give me one?"

Farmer says "sure" The man in the expensive 3 piece suit whips out his lap top, plugs in an air card, franctically goes clicking through screens and GPS images and after only two minutes declares "Sir, you have 537 sheep."

The farmer says ok you are right , you get a sheep, the suit grabs an animal and puts it in the back seat. Farmer says, but let me guess, you are a consultant?"

The suit stands amazed and says, "How did you know that?

The farmer says "You want to get paid to tell me something I already know and you have no idea how to do anything for yourself, now get back to your car and put my DOG back over the fence please............

Anonymous said...

Corbett's daughter has a state job...sell her job to WV, his son-in-law, state job, now an outlaw.

Lets sell the govenors job to the Rhode Island govenor they can handle both states with Consultants.

Don't forget about the contract for the Commonwealth web site infrastructure management. That went to an out of state company as well.

Another big Sandusky Second Mile sinkhole created by Tom Corbett going after Campaign Funds when AG Corbett was suppose to be investigating Republican Senators and Staffers that got the biggest bonuses???

...so lemme get this straight. The 2nd worst governor in commonwealth history is pushing a privatization that will guarantee $30mil. to the firm employing the WORST governor in commonwealth history. Nothing to see here folks, move along........Tom Corporate.

Anonymous said...

Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away.

The Pennsylvania Lottery had sales of nearly $3.5 billion and profits of more than $1 billion in 2012. Currently The Pennsylvania Lottery is the only lottery in the nation to exclusively dedicate all its proceeds to programs for older residents.

If Camelot takes over the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will pay Camelot’s operating expenses – including salaries for private executives.

Those payments would be in addition to the company’s management fee – a cut of Pennsylvania Lottery profits, which otherwise would go to senior programs???

Under Corbett, Political contributions pay off in a big way. Who needs to hit the lottery?

Anonymous said...

Epstein seems so outraged. For him to be so openly critical and full of condemnation, I guess he must have refused all help from senate staffers when he ran for office against Piccola.

Anonymous said...

Turn your attention to the Office of the Inspector General. Corbett payoffs continue.

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Anonymous said...

It's OK to hate on Corbett.

He's an awful governor, in bed with the fracking folks and unwilling to fund education.

He got into office on the basis of name recognition derived from politically driven investigations of Democrats, and we now have a pretty good idea of his veniality and corruption when we examine this whole Sandusky and Second Mile mess.

The guy deserves to get voted out of office, clearly, and his poll numbers reflect that likelihood.

He's a dead man walking politics, and he knows it.

And for the record, I'm a Republican who votes for Democrats when they are the best candidates.

I voted for Corbett the first time, and have come to greatly regret it, and would do so even if there were no Sandusky affair.

I voted for Reagan twice, and might even vote for his corpse again if it could be put on the ballot, but also voted for Clinton once and Obama once.

In sum, I'm an open-minded guy.
And, I still hate Corbett.

We need to get away from the knee-jerk reactions to the words "Democrat" and "Republican" in this country.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

I'm not a tree-hugging environmentalist, either.

I just want the gas and oil taxed like everybody else, and Corbett's initital position was to give them a complete free ride, thanks to the way they bankrolled his campaign.

The amount we fund education in this state has nothing to do with it. It is what it is.

You can't use that argument to justify massive slashing of said funding in big fell swoops, period.

If he wants to cut back the amount of money they get, that's fine, but don't make huge cuts all at once and tell administrators to figure out how to solve the problems themselves.

That's the coward's way out, and we've learned that Corbett is truly a massive coward willing to hide behind others while pushing his personal agendas.

What Corbett did on Bonusgate Investigations was a crime. He let his Republican Senate Friends and Staffers go without any investigation and went after others and that is called a Tyrant misusing the Justice system for his own gain.

Anonymous said...

If anyone read the part about the "charming sociopath" and their lies, this describes Corbett and his Staffers accurately.

They seek to lull their victims through subtle lies and manipulation of reality.

Smith that signed the House Data Contracts is a liar period.

Nothing charming about him, although he fits the description of sociopath.

Jim Jones and David Koresh were both examples of charming sociopaths who manipulated their followings through lies and deprivation.

In this case, Commonwealth Taxpayers and Citizens are being deprived of the truth and are forced to endure contrived falsehoods, crap about enabling and phony cover-ups.

The last 3 Attorneys Generals should be under investigation and should be going to jail.

Zimmerman on his misuse of the Hershey Trusts, Corbett on Bonusgate cover ups and Sandusky delays, and Kelly on covering for the other two above.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the whistle-blower lawsuit by two employees from the Office of the Attorney General? They were fired and filed suit in Federal Court. Had to do with non-competitive bid contracts for collection agencies to do minimal work. Sounds like the PA Turnpike deal.

Looking forward to your comments.

Anonymous said...

You must be kidding!!!!
OAG Carusone is using his state taxpayer paid email address for his personal part-time job. This is the same lack of ethics displayed by the new Director of the Office of the Inspector General while he helped Fina in OAG prosecute the Legislative Branch of state Government. Disgusting.
http://law.widener.edu/Academics/Faculty/ProfilesHbgAdj/CarusoneChristopherD.aspx