Mar 31, 2010

Some Struggle To Understand Corbett's Use Of Political Posturing

In his article today in The Bulletin, Chris Friend suggests that the conflict of interest allegations against Attorney General Tom Corbett by his political opponents are baseless. Then proceeds to point out how challenging the constitutionality of the health care law by Corbet somehow has nothing to do with political posturing.
Later in the week, Corbett sued the federal government over the passage of health care legislation.

He didn’t do this as a partisan Republican, attacking a Democratic health care bill.

No, his decision was rooted in something much more basic: his belief that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to usurp the rights of the state, and force citizens to purchase health care --- or risk fines and jail.

Wow. Call me crazy, but isn’t that what a state Attorney General is supposed to do --- protect the citizens of his state from criminals and unconstitutional laws? (The Bulletin)

Click Here To Read More

Apparently some struggle with understanding the concept of political posturing in order to gain a political advantage over one's opponent. O.K. Chris I will take this opportunity to call you crazy for you pointless rant today.

If Corbett is not using these high profile cases for political posturing than where was Corbett during the 2005 pay raise? I don't remember Corbett immediately holding a press conference and challenging the constitutionality of that law. I mean after all that is what state Attorney Generals do right? And why has it taken so long for these Bonusgate trials to occur considering the Patriot-News first reported the bonus scheme over three years ago. I think Chris needs to take the Tom Corbett, Space Cadet blinders off.

Some Sound Voting Advice From PennPatriot

Here is some great guidelines if you are still struggling to decide which candidate to vote for in the state legislative races this year.

Vote for the candidate who:

A. Is not under indictment

B. Is not under investigation for public corruption or conflict of interest

C. Is not an incumbent

D. Has the least political experience.

E. Is not a lawyer

F. Does not have a spouse or an immediate family member who is a judge or is involved with the Judiciary in any capacity.

G. Was not a former campaign staffer or legislative staffer

H. Does not have any previous connections with the Harrisburg lobby culture

I. Is involved in or supporting by the Tea Party movement!

That should do the trick :)

I Guess State Lawmakers Haven't Learned Their Lesson

This is just ridiculous!!! It is time to start sending these guys a message since the pay raise backlash of 2005 wasn't enough. Here is a great editorial piece in today's Tribune-Review.
Think the recidivist pickpockets in Harrisburg learned their lesson with the pay-jacking of five years ago or the continuing investigation into allegations of legislative corruption?

Think again.

Two months before the state House Democratic Caucus enacted a salary freeze that supposedly began on Jan. 1, two staffers were given handsome raises.

Paul Parsells was given a raise of $18,642. He's the chief of staff to House Speaker Keith McCall, D-Carbon. That's a 14 percent increase, boosting his salary to $150,000.

And Reizdan Moore, the House parliamentarian, received a raise of $3,926. That boosted his salary to $158,470. Mr. Moore later played an integral role in denying The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, the newspaper that first reported the pay hikes, access to what clearly is public information.

Twelve other staffers received raises after the freeze was imposed. House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne, calls the raises, each about 3 percent, an administrative error. Nonetheless, he says the raises will stand.

Of course. The buck always "stops" at the bottom of the taxpayers' pockets, eaten away by these rats on the banks of the Susquehanna.

Some things never seem to change in Harrisburg. But voters once again can challenge that reality — beginning in the primary election come May.
The point is nothing will change if we the people don't become active in our political process. It is time to vote out these career politicians and convict them on election day of violating the public trust.

Pay Raises To Top Democratic House Staffers Were A 'Mistake'

Apparently the Pennsylvania House Democratic Leadership are saying that the pay increases that they gave their top legislative staffers a month before the Jan 1st salary freeze was a mistake. The salary increase ranged from 15,000 dollars a year to 20,000 dollars a year. Staffers of lower profiled democratic lawmakers complained to the Patriot News this weekend that the pay raises were rushed through and seemed to favor the staffers of the democratic caucus leadership. But even though they were a "mistake" the staffers will be able to keep their raises according to Majority Leader Todd Eachus.
At a time when most Americans are dealing with stagnant wages or unemployment, the good times are rolling for some top Pa. House Democratic staffers. Two high-level aides received hefty salary increases late last year and a dozen others received increases after a pay freeze took effect on Jan. 1. (Pocono Record)
So there you have it folks. Wouldn't it be nice if your boss accidentally gave you a 20,000 dollar pay raise this year? These lawmakers can't be living in the real world and make decisions like this. The quality of the leadership in Harrisburg is unacceptable. Actually it is embarrassing.

Mar 30, 2010

Santorum Laying The Ground Work For A Presidential Run In 2012

I think we can formally announce on PennPatriot Blog that former Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum is planning on running for President in 2012. He has already visited Iowa once earlier this month. According to reports Santorum spoke to about 500 Evangelicals at a Des Moines church. In his speech to supporters Santorum emphasized his journey from being a new republican legislator who was afraid to openly voice his views abortion to eventually becoming one of our country's most outspoken pro life Senators. Click Here.

Now Santorum's Political Action Committee (PAC), America's Foundation, has announced that Santorum will be returning to Iowa to speak at a Pottawattamie County Republican Party event on Tuesday, March 30. All indications are that Santorum may be spending a lot of time in Iowa.
“I am thrilled to visit Council Bluffs to discuss the many critical issues -- health care, the economy and national security -- our country is facing. I look forward to sharing my views with local residents about how we can best tackle these challenges,” said former Senator Rick Santorum. Click Here.
There is no doubt that Santorum is using his America's Foundation (PAC) to build support and rally his conservative base. Much of the PAC's funds have been used in direct mailings or other campaign type expenses.
In the second half of 2009, according to federal filings, the PAC raised $710,000. Of that total, $557,000 was spent on direct mail and related expenditures -- building a nationwide base of donors and supporters for Mr. Santorum. Just $38,500 was donated to candidates or causes. (Post Gazette)

Click Here To Read More
It will be interesting to see how Santorum will be received by the Republican Conservative base considering he supported then Republican Senator, Arlen Specter over the more conservative candidate Pat Toomey in the 2004 Pennsylvania Senate Race. But one thing that Santorum has going for him is that he was hands down the most conservative U.S. Senator based on his career voting record.

Mar 29, 2010

Gov. Rendell’s take on State’s Rights and Health Care

Written by Roberta Biros

Regardless of who wins the General Election in November, we can all look forward to Ed Rendell’s reign as Governor ending at the end of 2010. Can I hear an Amen!

Let’s be honest. Governor Rendell is nothing short of a Socialist. Please realize that “Socialist” isn’t a term that I’ve ever used in this blog to describe ANYONE. The term was only used once, and it was used by the Chairman of the Mercer County Democrat Committee (Bob Lark) to describe ME (for a good laugh and some insight on my political background on this topic read HERE), but I’ve never used it to describe anyone else. So understand that I don’t make this remark light-heartedly. I make the statement today in direct response to an interview that Governor Rendell had on Fox News this morning, March 29, 2010.

The topic of the interview on Fox and Friends was “Is it unconstitutional for the Federal Government to mandate that people buy insurance?” Governor Rendell’s response was as follows (and I quote):

“There is no legal question. These lawsuits are frivolous. There is no legal
merit. It’s just grandstanding by Attorney Generals. Why would you want to take
the immediate short-term benefits away from your citizens.”
Governor Rendell went on to explain that this is just a political game being played by the Attorney Generals across the country and in his own state.

If I could talk to Governor Rendell directly I would say . . . “No legal merit? What about the laws that are defined in the single most important document of law in the Country.” I would ask . . . “have you ever heard of the Constitution?” I would probably need to be more specific and expand on my question with . . . “have you ever heard of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution?” While you would think that the Governor would be familiar with the Bill of Rights, you really can’t “assume” anything in this case. If I could talk to Governor Rendell I would offer him a pocket edition of the Constitution for reference.

What the Governor fails to understand is that it is the RESPONSIBILITY of our state lawmakers to defend the rights of their constituents in our state. Failure to do so would be a breach of their “contract” with us as our elected officials. His only argument against the constitution is a reference to “short-term benefits”. “Short-term benefits” is the only carrot he could find for his stick. In an attempt to lure people away from the Constitution, Governor Rendell is offering “short-term benefits”.

I am hopeful that after this storm blows through, the Constitution survives . . . intact. Not for the “short-term benefits”, but for the long-term freedom of the people of the United States.


Stetler's motion about AG could have consequences

Here is a great article on that further explains the motions filed by Attorney Joshua Locke who is defending former Representative Steve Stetler and Representative Brett Feese with Dauphin County Judge Richard A. Lewis. The motions accuse Attorney General Tom Corbett of using office staff and state office resources for campaign purposes. Apparently the defense feels that Corbett violated the same law that Corbett is using to convict state lawmakers and their staff. At first I thought the motions were just a defense tactic but apparently after reading this article I think they have some teeth.
Lock's argument is not the same one made by prior Bonusgate defendants, said Michael Palermo, the lawyer for Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink, who was convicted of corruption charges along with Veon.

It's stronger, Palermo said, front-loaded with bits of evidence he and other defense attorneys hoped to elicit from witnesses at trial. That didn't happen because Lewis didn't allow the testimony. Lock has put his allegations on paper, forcing the court to confront them.

But Stetler and Feese go further than the Veon defendants had, Palermo said, when they allege the Attorney General's office has staffers doing campaign work on state time -- a common charge against Bonusgate defendants.

"When I read it, I was jealous," Palermo said. "This is a fully developed motion . . . Our motion was a grain of sand -- Josh Lock's is the beach." (York Daily Record)

Click Here To Read More
Corbett's office is saying that everything related to campaign activity has been above board and all of these allegations against Corbett had been made before in previous cases, but the details of the motions filed by Lock suggest differently. According to court documents, apparently Corbett hired three former campaign staffers to work for the Attorney General's office. One of the staffers was Brian Nutt who worked for the Corbett campaign in 2004 and 2008. Nutt is now Corbett's campaign manager.

Apparently staffers would take "Leaves Of Absences" to work on Corbett's campaigns and then return and work for Corbett in the Attorney General's Office. Lock is suggesting nine Attorney General employees were given "Comp" time,"flex" time, or their own time to work for Corbett's campaign. All of this seems a little fishy to me. Like I said before the more you research Corbett's political career the more questions arise!

Mar 28, 2010

Can Corbett See the Forest for the Trees?‏

Guest Column by Tim Potts

Although a jury returned guilty verdicts against former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon, D-Beaver, and two staff on Monday, Attorney General Tom Corbett didn't have long to savor his victory last week. The rest of the week was all downhill. Click here for a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story summarizing the verdicts.

At his victory news conference on Tuesday, Corbett exposed a curious myopia about the relationship between the trees felled in the trial (as well as 13 more defendants awaiting trial) and the forest of government that he hopes to lead as he campaigns for governor.

"Hopefully the people of Pennsylvania can have a little bit more faith in their state government today now that these defendants have been convicted," Corbett said in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Click here. Other news reports also quoted Corbett as saying that we will never know whether lawmakers have learned a lesson from his prosecutions.

Corbett seems to be unaware and unconcerned that after three years of investigations, trials and pleas, lawmakers have not enacted a single law to make sure that this scandal, which has now cost taxpayers more than $10 million according to some estimates, will not happen again. New laws, plus better enforcement of existing laws, can raise citizen confidence and show that lawmakers are determined to repair the conspicuous problems with state government. Now they seem to be biding their time before reverting to the culture of corruption that allowed the Bonus Scandal in the first place.

Given his roles as both attorney general and gubernatorial candidate, Corbett is in the ideal position both to recommend new laws to prevent a repeat of the Bonus Scandal and to campaign for a Constitution convention where citizens can decide for themselves how to alter and reform their government. He has done neither.

By the end of the week, that dual position became more troublesome. A preliminary hearing for another defendant, former Rep. and former Revenue Secretary Steve Stetler, D-York, had to be postponed. Stetler's attorney filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him with the accusation that Corbett engaged in the same practice of using tax dollars to subsidize his own election campaigns. Click here for a story from the York Daily Record.

Judge Richard Lewis has given Corbett two weeks to respond to the motion.

Also, an attorney for one of the staff convicted on Monday has asked the judge to declare a mistrial. A juror wrote in a blog post that jurors had visited the capitol building during lunch one day to see the scene of the crimes. However, jurors are not permitted to do their own investigations and must limit their deliberations to the evidence presented in court. Click here for a Post-Gazette story.

Lewis gave Corbett two weeks to respond to that motion, too.

While finding a variety of activities to be illegal, jurors did not find another act to be illegal. That is the practice of lawmakers charging taxpayers for meals on top of the three meals a day taxpayers already buy them with per diems . Veon and a cadre of basketball buddies charged taxpayers more than $15,000 for meals following their after-hours pick-up games. Click here for Brian O'Neill's latest column in today's Post-Gazette.

Questions for lawmakers:

We often pose questions that citizens and reporters may want to ask their lawmakers. Now the AP's Mark Scoloforo has compiled a list of questions that voters can ask incumbents as a result of the Bonus Scandal. Click here.

And here are a few of our own:
  • When will PA debate a "resign-to-run" law to prohibit public officials from serving in one office while running for another?
  • How many meals do taxpayers have to pay for each day? Why aren't three a day enough?
    When will the House and Senate adopt a rule (better yet, a law) that tax dollars may not be used for food beyond what lawmakers receive in per diems?
  • Which "leader" is going to make that happen?
  • When will the House and Senate require lawmakers to document their expenses in order to receive per diems, just as everyone else in America must do?

Tim Potts is the founder of Democracy Rising PA and cand be contacted at Click Here to find out more informaiton about Democracy Rising PA.

Ok So We Should All Jump Off A Cliff

I am beginning to think that I am being too hard on Attorney General Corbett. I agree that the "but he did it too" defense is not going to be successful with members of the jury in upcoming Bonusgate trials.
One big rap against the Bonusgate probe was that it hadn't resulted in convictions - in the first case to go to trial, a former state representative from western Pennsylvania was acquitted. Well, that changed last week - and it's worth noting that there have been several guilty pleas.

And, whatever Mr. Corbett's motives might be, this probe is pushing our political-ethics-challenged state in a positive direction. (York Daily Record)

Click Here To Read More
Corbett does deserve credit for having the courage to challenge how things have always beeen done in Harrisburg. Plus you got to love Governor Rendell's take on the bonusgate investigation according to the article.
During an editorial board visit some weeks ago, Gov. Ed Rendell predicted that Mr. Stetler would be acquitted, saying essentially that he was being accused criminally - and unfairly - of doing things the way they've always been done in Harrisburg.
When you consider just how much corruption really goes on in Harrisburg maybe we should be happy with a few guilty verdicts resulting from the Bonusgate investigation. But we can't assume that any of this is sending a message to our elected leaders in Harrisburg. Right Governor Rendell! Maybe all the corrupt lawmakers in Harrisburg should just all jump off a cliff since they all think that public corruption is acceptable.

Health Care Lawsuit Expected To Impact Political Landscape

The lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett and 12 other state republican Attorney Generals challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform law will no doubt be impacting the political landscape here in PA. Governor Rendell has already suggested that Corbett drop the lawsuit and House Appropriation Chairman Dwight Evans has threatened to stop funding the Attorney General's Office. So the fireworks are just starting.
The suit has sparked a fresh round of debate across the country - in Internet chat rooms, on editorial pages, and within state government. By the end of the week, the suit had state and national party leaders in a renewed war of words. On Friday, four Democratic governors - among them, Gov. Rendell - sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, offering to help him defend the act against their own states' attorneys general.

"We believe their legal efforts will fail in court, unnecessarily delay the urgent need to get our citizens access to health care and waste our state tax dollars," said the letter signed also by the governors of Washington, Michigan, and Colorado. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Click Here To Read More
It is also interesting to note that according to the article state Senate Pro Tempore, Joe Scarnati, is planning on introducing legislation to allow Pennsylvania to opt out of the Bill. Obama and Democratic Leaders in Congress may have won a victory but the war to stop socialized health care isn't over.

Should Pennsylvania Voters Question Corbett's Role As Chief Law Enforcement Officer and Candidate

Political pundits are questioning if it is a conflict of interest for Attorney General Corbett to be prosecuting high profile state lawmakers while running for Governor at the same time.
In the legislative corruption investigations, he's been going after high-profile state lawmakers from both parties. Someone could conceivably use the attorney general's position to neutralize those who might oppose him as a candidate.

The recent motion by two Bonusgate defendants -- former York state Rep. Steve Stetler and former state Rep. Brett Feese -- accusing Corbett of unethical behavior only makes the separation of power more imperative, Balchunis argues.

"Even if Corbett is doing everything appropriate, I think the question is whether there's an appearance of inappropriate behavior," Balchunis said. (York Daily Record)

Click Here To Read More
I think the answer to the question is obvious. If you understand that the Attorney General Office's function is the chief law enforcement officer of the state than you can understand the dilemma Corbett finds himself in. He has an advantage as a candidate but also will face extra scrutiny in prosecuting the Bonusgate investigation. Corbett should have resigned his office once he announced his candidacy for Governor.

State House Democrats Rushed To Give Staffers A Pay Raise Prior To Pushing Pay Freeze In January

If you really want to understand just how greedy lawmakers are in Harrisburg then pay attention to this article from the Patriot News. Apparently, state House Democrats moved fast back in November to give themselves a pay raise before the January 1st pay freeze was implemented for this year.
In the two months before the state House Democratic caucus enacted a salary freeze starting Jan. 1, staffers saw a flurry of activity that raised eyebrows.

Those with access to payroll information saw a raise amounting to $18,642 annually for Paul Parsells, the chief of staff to House Speaker Keith McCall, D-Carbon. While he received a 14 percent bump boosting his salary to $150,000 a year, other staffers got a maximum 3 percent raise.

Staffers saw House Parliamentarian Reizdan Moore received a yearly raise amounting to $6,095. It struck them as odd because his anniversary date is in the spring. Typically, House employees are considered for raises on their hiring anniversaries. Others in McCall’s office received raises, too. (Patriot-News)

Click Here To Read More
It seems like legislative leaders in Harrisburg are always thinking up ways to give either themselves or their staffers pay raises. But I have to give the House Democratic Caucus leaders Speaker McCall and Majority Leader Eachus credit for this one. They pushed for a pay freeze that started on Jan 1st while at the seam time pushed through raises for their staffers.

How do they think the 16000 Pennsylvanians who lost their jobs last month feel about this kind of behavior of the people that should be representing them? Our state economy continues to struggle and the Speaker's Chief Of Staff got a $19,000 dollar pay raise. Today lawmakers at every level should thank the Tea Party for controlling themselves instead of complaining about verbal threats. They are lucky it is not 1776!

Mar 27, 2010

Tom Corbett's Political Career, The Art Of The Quid Pro Quo

Attorney General Corbett's gubernatorial campaign has been relatively smooth thus far. Corbett is heavily supported by the PA GOP party establishment and easily won the nomination of the Republican State Committee over primary challenger Rep. Sam Rohrer. Corbett has done an outstanding job of portraying himself as a good government crusader fighting political corruption in Harrisburg. I'm sure everyone has either seen or read about one of Corbett's infamous Bonusgate press conferences. My guess is that Corbett's popularity will continue to grow now that he has heroically challenging the constitutionality of the new health care legislation recently passed by the Democratic Congressional leadership and President Obama.

As a republican, I can see how easy it is to give Corbett a free ride considering that he is firmly the frontrunner for Governor. But as you peal back the layers of Corbett's political career many concerns come to light. In fact, Corbett's entire public career is a political science lesson on the art of the quid pro quo.

My investigation into Corbett's political career and his rise to power in Harrisburg has primarily been motivated by Corbett's criticisms of Sam Rohrer's pay raise vote in 2005. What I have found is very interesting to say the least. Corbett has no direct link to the passage of the 2005 pay raise, but he does have a direct link to the passage of the Act 51 pay raise legislation of 1995.

In 1995, Pennsylvania legislators led by then President Pro Temp, Bob Jubelirer passed a law (ACT 51) that established cost of living increases (referred to as COLAs) for themselves and other state officials, including the governor and judges. At the time it was billed as the pay raise to end all pay raises by former House Speaker John Perzel. Since the passage of ACT 51, on December 1st of every year state lawmakers and other state officials in Pennsylvania have received the benefit of an automatic pay raise based on the cost of living numbers somehow tied to Philadelphia.

When researching the passage of the Act 51 pay raise of 1995, I couldn't help but notice some alarming similarities to how 2005 pay raise passed. It is truly amazing how history has a tendency of repeating itself in Harrisburg except back in 1995 the pay raise had similar characters but a different backroom deal. And as in the 2005 pay raise deal, at the center of it all was everyone's favorite pay raise architect former Senate President Pro Tempore, Bob Jubelirer.

So what does this have to do with Corbett?

Back in June 1995 the state's Attorney General Office was in shambles, rocked by a corruption scandal that eventually led to the indictment and conviction of then republican Attorney General, Ernest D. Preate Jr. Preate's plea agreement ended a five-year Federal investigation of his involvement with video poker machine operators who contributed to his campaign for attorney general in 1988. Although Preate was re-elected as Attorney General in 19992 the investigation cost him the Republican nomination for governor in 1994. In that race, Preate finished second to Tom Ridge, who was then elected in November.

According to a Salon.Com article entitled "Blind Ambition", Ridge made the investigation into Preate a cornerstone of his campaign. Ridge promoted himself as a Harrisburg outsider who promised to clean up corruption Harrisburg..
Ridge promised to clean up the capitol when he ran for governor in 1994, saying he had "one message -- change Harrisburg honestly." He decried pay raises for the Legislature and, significantly, railed against "legislative initiative grants." The grants, nicknamed "WAMs," for "walking-around money," were given to General Assembly members for projects in their districts, doled out by legislative leaders to good soldiers as they campaigned for reelection. WAMs were Pennsylvania sleaze at its greasiest: secretive, stinking of cronyism, far removed from the very people whose cash was being spent.
When Preate resigned in June of 1995 it was up to Governor Ridge to appoint someone to replace him. Ridge took a political risk and decided to go outside of the Harrisburg establishment and nominated Attorney Tom Corbett a close friend for the post. Corbett was already a player in the new Ridge administration. Corbet served first as a campaign adviser to Ridge's gubernatorial campaign. Following Ridge's victory, Corbett served on a number of state commissions including the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which he served as chairman prior to the appointment.

However the Republican controlled Senate headed by then President Pro Temp Bob Jubelirer wasn't happy with the nomination of Corbett. In article written by Megan O'matz in of the Allentown Morning Call on July 7, 1995 entitled, "Wins And Loss Ridge's Attorney General Nominee Appears Doomed..." Jubelirer confirmed that there was no way the Senate was going to approved Corbett's nomination.
Thomas W. Corbett Jr.'s nomination for attorney general appears to be sunk. Senate President Pro Tempore Robert C. Jubelirer said yesterday that he will not reconvene the Senate on Monday as expected, because there still aren't enough votes to confirm Corbett, of Pittsburgh.

"It's the governor's decision," said Jubelirer, R-30th District. "He doesn't want his nominee embarrassed."
The common consensus at the time was that Senate democrats wouldn't approve Corbett until he agreed to not run again after Preate's term was up in 1996. But as in Harrisburg things are not always what they seem. It just seems to be a little funny that legislative leaders like Jubelirer began pushing for a pay raise the same time Corbett was appointed.

All of this is coincidental when you think about the origins of Act 51. At the same time Governor Ridge wanted desperately to appoint his good friend Corbett Attorney General, Jubelirer and other legislative leaders wanted a pay raise. In fact, the very day Preate resigned June 5th 1995 is the same date that President Pro Temp, Bob Jubelirer and Minority Leader Robert Mellow first introduced Senate Bill 1074 that would eventually become Act 51 of 1995. The prime sponsor of the Bill was Senator Loeper.

So what really changed in Harrisburg from the time Corbett was first nominated in June of 1995 when Legislative leaders were saying Corbett had no chance of be confirmed to October 3rd of 1995 when Attorney General Tom Corbett first took the oath of office after the sate Senate confirmed him by a two-thirds vote? Amazing when you consider just three months earlier Corbett had no chance of being confirmed. It is not a stretch to connect the dots here and see that the pay raise might have had something to do with Corbett's confirmation.

As stated before Ridge campaigned against legislative pay raises. But according to the Salon.Com once Ridge became Governor he quickly changed his "tune".
Ridge changed his tune on the pay raise for state legislators pretty quick, soon signing into law an 18 percent pay raise for the General Assembly and state Senate.

"The governor was initially opposed to that," Reeves acknowledges. "The General Assembly made it very clear in very short order how important it was to them, and what an impediment it would be to any business being done if he didn't sign off on it. So he did what he believed was the right thing for him to do at time for Pennsylvania. It wasn't something that he enjoyed."
Maybe the reason why Ridge changed his "tune" was Corbett's confirmation. Considering all the corruption in Harrisburg we may never know what really went down behind the scenes. I just have a hard time believing that it is just mire coincidence that that Corbett took the oath office on October 3rd of 1995 and Ridge signed Act 51 of 1995 into law October 19th of 1995. A law that raised executive branch salaries including the Attorney General, state legislative salaries, and the judges salaries by 18% and created COLA raises each year that are tied to the cost of living of Philadelphia. A costly quid pro quo when you really think about it.

My question is how much did Corbett know about the behind the scenes pay raise negotiations between Senate leaders and the Governor during his confirmation process between June of 1995 to October 1995? Corbett was a close adviser to Ridge and was already part of his administration at the time. Did Corbett know before his confirmation that the salary of the Attorney General's Office was being increased from $84,000 to $104,000 a year?

As you can see there is know doubt that Corbett understands how the game is played in Harrisburg. The more you research Corbett's political career the more questions you will find.

State corruption verdicts tell story of politics in Pa. - The Mercury Opinion: Pottstown, PA and The Tri County areas of Montgomery, Berks and Chester Counties (

State corruption verdicts tell story of politics in Pa. - The Mercury Opinion: Pottstown, PA and The Tri County areas of Montgomery, Berks and Chester Counties (

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Mar 26, 2010

3rd Congressional District Candidates Face Off

Written by Roberta Biros

Energy levels were high as the crowd squeezed into the Schict Auditorium at Grove City College on Thursday night. The event was a candidate debate hosted by the Grove City College Republicans. The forum made it possible for concerned citizens to compare the six Republican candidates that are vying for the 3rd Congressional seat against Congresswoman Dahlkemper in 2010.

At the start of the presentation the room was cramped. Co-moderator, Michael Coulter, announced that additional seating for the event was available in pour-over rooms that had a live feed of the event. The high attendance was a testament to the fact that this is a VERY IMPORTANT election. Interest is high and that is always a good thing. The stage was set for a heated debate.

The format of the debate was simple. There were a few questions from the moderators that were directed to all candidates. Additionally, each candidate was given the opportunity to direct a question to another in the group. The decision of who would question whom was decided by a draw from a hat.

In the end, the forum allowed each candidate to enjoy a high point or two . . . some experienced more high points than others. Below is a quick breakdown of those highlights (and maybe a “low light” or two). My analysis would be incomplete if I didn’t also provide my opinions, which are scattered in for flavor.

The Candidates

Seated from left to right on the stage were Dr. Marta Moore, Steve Fisher, Paul Huber, Ed Franz, Mike Kelly, and Clayton Grabb.

Opening Remarks and Sound Bites

Each candidate was given the opportunity to introduce themselves. Below are some of the interesting sound bites from each.

Dr. Martha Moore:

“Why do I want to run for congress? Three words . . . enough is enough.”

Steve Fisher:

“People in Washington are not paying attention to what the citizens want. The difference is in listening to what is being said.”

“I’ll be as visible for you in Washington as I am in this district during this campaign.”

Paul Huber:

**While I have no specific sound bite for Mr. Huber, he overviewed his numerous qualifications and outlined his business background. **

Ed Franz:

“I think that Washington has been tone deaf to the 3rd District and the citizens of Pennsylvania.”
“Kathy Dahlkemper and the rest of the Democrats including Barack Obama aren’t concentrating on putting Americans back to work.”

Mike Kelly:

“I know what it takes to run a business. Wouldn’t it be nice if the people that run the Country knew how to run a business?”

Clayton Grabb:

“We The People”. Three simple words. Three powerful words. Three words that are divinely inspired.”

“They (in Washington) are our servants. They are no different than you or I. That is why I’m running.”

Highlights (or lowlights) for each Candidate:

Based on everything that was said throughout the evening, I’ve selected a few interesting remarks that summarizes the performance of each candidate.

Dr. Martha Moore:

The first question to all candidates asked when they would be willing to compromise on issues. Dr. Moore (who seems to have a quote for everything) referred to the quote “In issues of style, go with the stream . . . in issues of principle stand like a rock”. That was a pretty cool response.

Another highlight from Dr. Moore was not in her responses but in the question that she offered Paul Huber. Dr. Moore finally asked the question that everyone has been tip-toeing around. She asked “You started as a Democrat but now you sound like a Reagan Republican. Are you going to get to Washington and turn into a Democrat again?” It was a great question and it needed to be asked. Unfortunately, the response ended up being one of Paul Huber’s highlights (see below).

Steve Fisher

One of the highlights of the evening for Steve Fisher was his response to a question regarding what government program he would reduce and/or eliminate. Unlike some of the candidates, Steve Fisher made the bold statement that he would “reduce Welfare”. Bravo! Mr. Fisher, however, refused to commit to one program that he would eliminate. Like most of the candidates, he explained the he would need to look at all of the programs in more detail before he could make a determination like that.

Another highlight for Steve Fisher was in his question from Mike Kelly. In may have been a softball question on Kelly’s part, but he asked what suggestions Fisher could make to fix the Health Care problem from the private level. Fisher is an insurance professional and handled the question expertly. He has a firm grasp of the Health Care issue, and the question from Kelly gave him an opportunity to show that off.

A final highlight from Fisher came in his closing remarks. The question (to all candidates) was “Why do you feel that you are the most electable candidate over Dahlkemper?” Fisher’s response was “I think Kathy Dahlkemper is vulnerable.” He explained that he is drastically different from Mrs. Dahlkemper because, in his words, “I’m going to listen to what the people are looking for.” Fisher’s response stated the obvious . . . Kathy Dahlkemper ISN’T listening. Fisher positioned himself as the candidate that will do the people’s business.

Paul Huber

One highlight for Paul Huber was his suggestion of what Federal programs should be reduced or eliminated. He agreed with Steve Fisher’s choice (welfare). Mr. Huber also picked out the program of Agricultural Subsidies. Many of you may know that this is an area of specific interest to me. I’ve written about Farm Subsidies in the past, and I’m against them. While he didn’t take the opportunity to discuss the matter on Thursday night, he did describe his concerns in more detail last Sunday. At that time he explained that he was raised on a farm and still farms to this day. He explained that in all that time “he has never accepted subsidies”. This pushes on a point that I’ve debated for quite sometime. It is often the case that subsidies don’t actually go to people that need them. Instead, they simply go to people that know how to use the system. I found this interesting and I like his stand on it.

The second highlight for Mr. Huber came in his response to a question from Dr. Moore. As stated above, Dr. Moore questioned Huber’s recent change to the Republican Party. I find this issue of particular interest because I’ve seen a similar argument in my own political background. Paul Huber had a wonderful response that struck a chord with me. He stated “labels belong on jars . . . not on people”. I thought that was particularly well said. Mr. Huber then went on to explain his conservative beliefs and background.

A lowlight moment for Mr. Huber was in his question to Ed Franz. Mr. Huber’s question was “What would you do regarding tax policy, regulatory policies, and employment policy that would help manufacturers get people back work?” It is my opinion that Mr. Huber comes off as an intellectual elitist. His question was asked in such a way that it seemed as though he was intending to belittle Ed Franz in some way. Ed Franz’s initial response was one of his highlights (see below).

Ed Franz

As mentioned above, the question from Paul Huber to Ed Franz came off in a bad way. After Huber asked his question, Ed Franz simply paused and said “well, thanks for that question Paul”. There was a hint of sarcasm in his voice and it was noticed by all attendees. The response received chuckles across the room. It was a very funny and light-hearted moment.

Another highlight in the evening for Franz was his response to a question regarding how he would “compromise” in Washington. Ed Franz went in a perfect direction when he stated “The death tax needs repealed. A compromise is to lower it. As long as the compromise helps, I’m okay with it. Where I won’t compromise is in deficit spending.” This simple statement managed to position Franz as a fiscal conservative. In my opinion, Franz needs to concentrate on this issue in order to pull himself away from the pack as a focused fiscal conservative.

The final highlight from Ed Franz came from his response regarding his electability against Kathy Dahlkemper. Franz made the bold move to state “(Kathy Dahlkemper) ran on the issue of Pro-Life. 14 months later she proved that she is not a friend of the unborn . . . she voted for a bill that will pay for tax funded abortion. We can’t afford to send fakes to Washington.” Wow. Those sound like fighin’ words to me. He took a bold stand, and I applaud him for his direct attack at the Congresswoman. It was refreshing.

Mike Kelly

A highlight for Mike Kelly came in his response to a question from Steve Fisher. The question was regarding the GM bailout. Fisher asked Kelly, a GM Dealer, how he would have voted on the government bailout. Kelly said “If you can’t make it on your own, how do you expect to make it on someone’s back?” He went on to say “I would have voted No. Your tax dollars should not have gone to keep a company alive that couldn’t make it on their own.” Those have been my thoughts regarding the bailouts, and it was nice to hear them clearly stated by one of the candidates. Mike gets extra credit for that one.

Kelly’s final highlight was, unfortunately, also a lowlight for him. During the closing question regarding his electability against Dahlkemper, Kelly started by explaining that “we’ve all had it with politicians”. He continued with “don’t blame the government. . . blame the people that we have sent to Washington” and he used great sound bites like “Say what you mean and mean what you say”. Unfortunately, as he was presenting his worthy sentiments, his voice was rising and he took on a very mean and angry tone. I realize that this might be part of Mike Kelly’s “schtick”, but he left me (and others in the room) with a sense that he is just a very angry man. In my opinion, it was an unfortunate ending to his performance. In an argument about why he is the best person to defeat Dahlkemper in November he managed to demonstrate why he may not fair well against her when it comes time to take her on face-to-face.

Clayton Grabb

Clayton Grabb had numerous highlights throughout the evening. Mr. Grabb seems very sincere and he genuinely speaks from his heart. While he may not be the most polished “politician” of the group, that is exactly what makes him appeal to the “anti-government/anti-incumbent” crowd.

One specific highlight from the evening was Grabb’s response to the question about which Federal programs should be eliminated or reduced. Grabb is the ONLY candidate that provided an example of a program that he would eliminate. Grabb stated “Eliminate the Department of Energy. We need energy independence and that department is not getting it done.” In a question that was ducked by many, Grabb stood out with his bold comment. Grabb also commented that there should be a “freeze on all government hiring”. I say “Amen” to that.

A second highlight came for Grabb in his use of humor. When discussing ways to improve health care, Grabb made the reference “You can’t have a night watching TV without seeing a caveman or a gecko.” This was an obvious reference to the fact that insurance companies have plenty of money for advertising. As a follow up he stated “Open up the markets and let there be competition”. His use of a bit of humor was a great way to bring attention on the issue. It was a light-hearted moment.

The most memorable highlight for Clayton Grabb was in his closing statements regarding his electability against Dahlkemper. Realize, first, that his comments followed those of Mike Kelly, which were very angry and loud. After a brief silence Grabb first stated “I know in my heart that I’m going to win the Primary in May and I feel confident that I’m going to beat Kathy Dahlkemper in November.” Clayton Grabb has the ability to inject emotion in his words, and it is moving. He then went on to make a statement referencing his military background and the explanation of what occurs when there is a “breach in the wall”. He used the same words last night as he did at a similar forum last Sunday, but it is a REALLY GOOD speech. I won’t even attempt to quote it here as it simply wouldn’t do it justice. Let me simply say that if you haven’t heard Clayton Grabb speak you should make it a point to make it to one of his upcoming functions.

In Closing . . .

Those were the notable highlights and lowlights of the evening . . . from my perspective, of course. I’m sure that everyone in the room left with different impressions of the events of the evening, but that is what makes this Country so great. One thing that we can all agree on is that formal debates like this one are an important part of the political process. It was encouraging to see so much interest from the community. I can only hope that everyone went home more informed than when they arrived.

As always, just my opinion.
~Mercer Conservatives

Bonusgate juror's blog post prompts mistrial request

This is interesting. If I was a juror in the Bonusgate trial a trip to the Capitol building in Harrisburg may have caused me to get thrown off. I would have brought a pink pig with me or something like that.
In a motion filed this morning, Michael O. Palermo, attorney for Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink, said it is improper for jurors to view places related to crimes they are adjudicating unless under "the security and protection of the court."

In the blog post, which was written after the verdict was rendered, juror Jonathan Smith indicated that some of the jurors visited the Capitol after lunch one day during the trial.

"After all, the Capitol was at the center of this whole case. We wanted to see this place. Actually, we wanted to see room 626, which was talked about so much during the trial," he wrote. (Post-Gazette)

Click Here To Read More
Next time I am up for jury duty I'm just going to say I'm a blogger. This will scare lawyers on both sides of the case :)

Mar 25, 2010

Corbett now facing legal challenges from lawyer of Bonusgate defendents

Joshua Lock a lawyer for former State Representatives Steve Stetler (D., York) and Brett Feese (R., Lycoming) in the next round of Bonusgate hearings is accusing Attorney General Tom Corbett of violating the same laws that his clients are being charged with. Lock asked the judge to dismiss the charges against his clients and to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Corbet for "misconduct". According to Lock, Corbett has been using the resources of the Attorney General's office for campaign purposes.
Among the 48 exhibits Lock attached to his motions were records reportedly showing that Corbett routinely used his campaign cell phone to contact staff in the Attorney General's Office during state work hours. He also alleges that top aides of Corbett's have jumped back and fourth over the years between state and campaign payrolls.

"At a minimum, his conduct is hypocritical," said Lock, a Harrisburg lawyer known for his aggressive defense strategies. "He has compromised this entire process and has violated everyone's rights." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Click Here To Read More
Lock feels that Corbett is using the bonusgate scandal and the corruption trials to further his gubernatorial campaign. A spokesman for Corbett called the allegations "bogus" and that the allegations suggest that Lock has no other defense than "accuse the accuser". Lock also accused Corbett of tainting the jury pool with his press conferences after the verdict of the last trial.

I think Stetler's attorney has a point. Why has the investigation taken three years and is just now beginning to be prosecuted this year? A year that Corbett is running for Governor. There is no doubt that Corbett's campaign for Governor has a distinct comparative advantage over other candidates whom hold less profile state offices.

More: Stetler to judge: Dismiss charges (York Daily Record)

Brad Bumsted: Defense asks for special prosecutor to investigate Pennsylvania attorney general (Tribune-Review)

MAHONEY: Message to the GOP party establishment. 'Business as usual is the way to blow the 2010 opportunity'

Guest Column By D. Patrick Mahoney

Since President Obama was sworn in, the Republican Party has won surprise statewide victories in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts. But in a big year for the party, Republicans lost all five special House races, including two in ruby-red districts because House special-election candidates are not chosen by rank-and-file Republicans in a primary but rather by a handful of party insiders in a back room.

Consider the special election to replace Senate appointee Kirsten Gillibrand last spring in upstate New York's 20th District. Behind closed doors, members of state and local Republican committees chose career politician Jim Tedisco, leader of the powerless Assembly minority, to be the party's standard-bearer though he didn't even live in the district. Mr. Tedisco lost to 38-year-old upstart Scott Murphy despite 70,000-more Republicans than Democrats in the district.

Republicans farther north in the Empire State's 23rd District didn't learn any lessons from the Tedisco disaster. Last fall, they nominated liberal Assembly Republican Dede Scozzafava and rejected Doug Hoffman even though he had far more support from actual Republican voters.

Republicans recoiled at Mrs. Scozzafava and backed Mr. Hoffman, who secured a third-party nomination from the state's influential Conservative Party. Mrs. Scozzafava ultimately dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democrat, who narrowly defeated Mr. Hoffman. The Republican establishment's self-inflicted wound handed the Democrats a seat that just 10 months earlier gave the Republican candidate 65 percent of the vote.

But these nightmare scenarios are nothing compared to what the Republican establishment did on March 11 in Pennsylvania's 12th District special election to replace the late Jack Murtha.

Led by state Republican Chairman Rob Gleason, insiders rejected Bill Russell, even though the retired 82nd Airborne officer and Iraq War veteran had given Murtha a real fight as the Republican candidate in 2008, raising $3.6 million and earning 42 percent of the vote.

Mr. Russell's campaign kept going at full speed after 2008, focused like a laser on 2010. An experienced districtwide organization and high name recognition give Mr. Russell, a survivor of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon, a significant advantage in a special election just two months away.

So why, despite Mr. Russell's military pedigree, strong financial and electoral showing in 2008 and ongoing campaign, do Republican hacks want to change horses when they are nearly across the stream? Because they found a guy named Tim Burns who is worth nine figures and willing to part with substantial portions of it to get the nomination.

The party line is that Mr. Burns is a better candidate than Mr. Russell because he can self-fund his campaign. But Mr. Burns' money can't possibly purchase an organization or name recognition comparable to Mr. Russell's in the truncated special-election cycle.

The real reason establishment types like Mr. Gleason are falling all over themselves to support Mr. Burns is that under Pennsylvania's lax campaign finance laws, individuals can contribute unlimited amounts to state and local elective officials. Mr. Burns can even donate to town, county and state Republican committees.

In short, Mr. Burns can give unlimited amounts of money to the very individuals and organizations who just gave him the nomination.

Remarkably, Mr. Gleason admitted in a recent Washington Independent article that he doesn't care about winning the congressional seat when he chastised Mr. Russell for running too hard in 2008. Mr. Gleason whined, "I lost a state legislature race in 2008 because Russell was surging in the polls and Murtha turned out his forces to come out for the Democrats."

On Thursday night, the Pennsylvania chapter of a party that prides itself on national security told Mr. Russell: You can put your neck on the line for us on foreign shores and we'll tolerate you as our nominee in elections we don't think we can win. But don't dare get in our way when we are trying to conduct business as usual. For although you spent a career defending this republic instead of getting rich, this time around, qualified, working-class combat Veterans need not apply.

To Mr. Russell's credit, the savvy paratrooper read the establishment's hand, refused to be intimidated and already has earned enough signatures to run in the primary, which is scheduled for May 18, the same day as the special election.

A Zogby poll of likely Republican conducted Feb. 17 and 18 indicated that Mr. Russell leads Mr. Burns by an astounding 29 points. Because of the unique, dual-election dynamic, Republicans voters can elect Mr. Burns in the special election but also give Mr. Russell the nod to be the nominee for the November general election. Under this likely scenario, Mr. Burns would instantly become a lame duck and the Republican establishment would again be exposed as bumbling jackals.

D. Patrick Mahoney is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and president of Iraq Veterans For Congress PAC.

Mar 24, 2010

State House Democrats Threaten To Cut Funding If Corbett Continues Health Care Lawsuit

State House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia)is threatening to cut funding to the Attorney General's Office if Corbett moves continues to move forward with any lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health care law signed by President Obama yesterday. It is obvious that Evans and other state lawmakers are not to happy about Corbett's lawsuit.
Evans blasted Corbett, saying "I can assure him, as chairman of the Appropriation Committee … that I will find a way within his department, if he continues this effort, that he will pay for it in his department. ... We’re not going to sit idly by and allow him to play politics on the backs of the taxpayers. We’re not going to accept that.” (PennLive)

Click Here To Read More
Other State House Democrats wrote a letter to Corbett encouraging him to drop the lawsuit. Are these tactics becoming familiar to voters around Pennsylvania. This seems like a habit with Democrats these days. You don't like our bill we will change the rules and pass it anyway. You want to challenge our bill with a lawsuit we will cut your funding. This is madness. I say go ahead Evans do it. Cut the funding and force Corbett to stop the lawsuit. You will see what happens. The law clearly violates the 10th Amendment of our Constitution. But that doesn't matter does it Evans?

I say if republicans had to endure the democrats bending the rules of Congress to pass the bill then democrats like Evans can endure the constitutional challenge and shut their mouths. Suck it up Evans we are not in Kindergarten anymore! You can't take your ball and go home.

Bill Russell Slams State Chairman Robert Gleason. Says Gleason Has A 'Conflict Of Interest'

12 Congressional District Candidate, Bill Russell, is now confirming a lot of the things that concerned many GOP supporters when Robert Gleason was first chosen to head up the Republican State Committee. He is accusing Gleason of collusion in regards to Gleason's insurance business dealings with Murtha.

I remember reading that Gleason openly admitting that supported and voted for Murtha in the past. According to Russell Gleason never supported his campaign in 2006 when he ran against Murtha the first time.
Russell, appearing on Family-Life TV’s Talk of the Town, criticized state Republican Chairman Rob Gleason.

“Unfortunately we’ve got a state Republican chairman who has a direct conflict of interest and really had no interest in, one, either defeating Jack Murtha when he was in Congress or, two, in taking that seat,” Russell said, referring to Gleason’s ownership of an insurance agency. “His direct personal interest is in keeping that the status quo. The direct financial interest is the fact that his insurance company writes the insurance policies for many of the companies Mr. Murtha used to bring in, and he has a vested interest in keeping the status quo for that. It is really unfortunate because, one, he has a vested financial interest in going against the Republican party, two, in a recent news interview, he attacked me for doing too well in the 2008 election because that caused Jack to bring out the Democratic forces including Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton for six calls, Barak Obama. With the turnout of the Democratic electorate to save Mr. Murtha’s seat, he says that actually led him to lose a state legislature seat. So he was angry with me for doing too well against Mr. Murtha.” (Kittanning Paper)

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I think Russell has some great points. Why would Gleason push for Tim Burns who is relatively unknown outside the political establishment over Russell? Especially, in a political environment that is trending ever more hostile towards establishment candidates and is being heavily influenced by the Tea Party movement. Supporting Burns just doesn't make any sense to me considering he has less than 10% name recognition in a special election that will end in in May. Does Gleason want former Murtha Chief Of Staff and Democrat Mark Critz to win the special election? Maybe Gleason wants to keep the "status quo". It wouldn't surprise me.

This was wrong way to do health care reform

Guest Column By Sandra Eshenower

So they passed the health care reform bill.

What a travesty.

Secret backroom politics straight out of Chicago, corruption at its worst arm-twisting, intimidation, threats.

Pretty bad when you pass into law a bill that most Americans did not want because they know in those 2,000 pages is massive fraud.

I have talked to every one of my doctors they were not for the bill and not one of them belong to the American Medical Association.

When I look at my grandchildren and great grandchildren, I shudder to think what kind of America they are going to grow up in, for I know this is only the tip of the iceberg.

The worst is yet to come.

There are a few good men in Washington Tim Holden, Joe Pitts, Todd Platts and Bill Shuster, who had the courage and conviction not to vote for a bill that will hurt Americans, not help them.

I am sure the great one has no idea what is even in this bill, which was crafted by trial lawyers and lobbyists.

Do you know that the IRS is going to manage your health care?

I also want to thank Tim Holden for not taking the advice of your biased editorial board.

Health reform should have been done the right way.

This was the wrong way.

Most Pennsylvania Voters Think State Lawmakers Are Corrupt

I have to say that some of the testimony during the bonusgate trial should fire up Pennsylvania voters who seem to be already unhappy with the way things are in Harrisburg. This from the latest Franklin & Marshall Poll. In fact many of us think our state lawmakers are just a bunch of crooks.
Kirkham is among 67 percent of registered voters who think the only difference between Veon and most state legislators is that Veon got caught, according to a Franklin & Marshall College poll.

"I think that's part of the problem with conviction in some" cases, said G. Terry Madonna, the poll's director. Many people appear to have adopted the attitude about the charges that "this doesn't come as a surprise to me."

Click Here To Read More
The real problem for incumbents is that voters are feeling that they are no longer in control of their government and that makes everyone a little uneasy. I love this quote.
"I don't think anybody has a really high opinion of government, at all, right now — state or federal. They're not listening," said Aaron Faulkner, 28, of Monaca.
That is the stuff Aaron. Let's vote all the crooks out in November. It is time for a good old fashioned incumbent hunt in November and you don't even need a license to hunt incumbents politicians this year :)

Corbet Says Veon Is Going To Jail

Attorney General Tom Corbett feels that Veon is going to spend some time in jail. Apparently Veon was convicted of the 14 more serious public corruption and conflict of interest counts.
Attorney General Tom Corbett said Tuesday he expects a judge will sentence former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon to prison on multiple felony convictions but would not say what arguments his office might present for sentencing.

"Personally, yes," Corbett said when asked whether he believes Veon will draw a prison term. "We haven't said what we'll recommend." (Tribune Review)

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I don't know how much more voters in Pennsylvania can take. Every time you turn around some state lawmaker is being convicted or charged with something. I hope Veon's sentence which can be a maximum 70 year sentence sends a message to the rest of the corrupt bunch in Harrisburg. Stop the corruption in our House Now!!!

State Revenues Down 102 Million Dollars In February

State revenues are down according to the latest Tribune-Review article.
Figures from the Department of Revenue show the state collected $102 million less than expected in February. For the fiscal year that started in July, collections are $476 million — or 2.9 percent — less than expected.

Nationwide, the bad economy created some significant declines for states: Individual income taxes were down 12 percent to $246 billion, while sales taxes dropped 5.4 percent to $228 billion.

Click Here To Read More
So the solution is to increase spending by four percent. Wow! That is a smart strategy Speaker McCall and House Democrats.

Congressional Candidate Debate in the 3rd District (Thursday, March 25): Comparing Apples-to-Apples

Written by Roberta Biros

For those of us concerned citizens that reside in the 3rd Congressional District, the upcoming debate of the Republican Congressional Candidates is a MUST SEE. The details were published by my friends at The Herald HERE. Here are the specifics:


Thursday, March 25, 2010




Grove City College, Schict Auditorium of the Hall of Arts and Letters


This meeting with give the six candidates that are trying to de-thrown Congresswoman Dahlkemper the opportunity to pit themselves against each other. It will provide us with the ability to compare apples-to-apples in this very heated race. We need to get to the details, and this debate MIGHT just do that.

Who will be there?

Attendees will include concerned citizens like myself. I urge you all to attend.

The six candidates that are running in the May Primary on the Republican ticket are . . .

  • Steven M. Fisher, 52, Cochranton, a health insurance salesman.
  • Ed Franz, 48, a Conneautville hourly worker at General Electric Corp. in Erie.
  • Mike Kelly, 61, a Butler car dealership owner.
  • Clayton Grabb, 47, a Butler pharmaceutical salesman.
  • Dr. Martha Moore, 52, a Sandy Lake family practitioner.
  • Paul Huber, 65, a Meadville businessman.

In Closing

I've had an opportunity to speak with all of the candidates personally. I have had at-length discussions with three . . . Steven Fisher, Mike Kelly, and Ed Franz. I like all three. Fisher, Kelly, and Franz all have "a backbone" and "a clear and fiscal conservative vision" for the people of the 3rd Congressional District. Most importantly, these three all get points in the "likeability" column.

Clayton Grabb seems to be a stand up guy. I like his "independence from Party" stand, and I think his military background is a bonus. He also gets points in the "likeability" column.

Dr. Martha Moore and Paul Huber leave me empty.

For additional details regarding these candidates, please review my article titled "Anyone for a game of political hot potato (Part One)?: Misuse of Legislative Resources ".

I will attend the event, and I will report the highlights back to you in this forum.

As always, just my opinion.

~Mercer Conservatives

Veon's dramatic fall has supporters thinking what might have been

After conviction, Veon supporters reflect on his downfall.
Those who supported, worked with and, at one time, believed in Veon lamented the sad conclusion of a political career that was once thought to have unlimited potential. Less than 10 years ago, it wasn’t hard for some Beaver County residents to imagine the charismatic Veon becoming a congressman or governor.

“It’s just a darn shame that someone with his talents and abilities had to end his political career in this manner,” said former Beaver County Controller Rick Towcimak.

Click Here To Read More
Veon's story should be a lesson to public servants at all levels of government. Veon viewed politics as a game of power and greed instead of doing what is right for the people he served. It caught up to him.

Spend, Spend, Spend: PA Budget Passed in the House

Written by Roberta Biros

Governor Rendell is in a hurry to pass a budget before the June 30th deadline (for the first time in his career as Governor I might add). That is a GOOD THING.

Unfortunately, the piece of garbage that passed the House today is a mess. I don’t usually allow legislators to put words in my mouth, but in this case I’ll make an exception. I’d like to quote Representative Michele Brooks (R-17th District), whose official email announcement stated that “this spending plan is a fiscal train wreck”.

Wow! I wish I had written it myself! In a way, I guess I just did. It was absolute plagiarism . . . plain and simple but I digress. Regardless of WHO said it first . . .

Calling the budget a "fiscal train wreck" is some strikingly straight talk from a Harrisburg insider. In response, I say “It’s about time”.

I received numerous email messages from Pennsylvania legislators today. Each one explained that the idea of passing a budget quickly (and well before the deadline) is a great idea. Every legislator hopes to have a budget passed before the end of June this year . . . especially those legislators that have opponents in the General Election. However, the obvious fiscal irresponsibility of House Bill 2279 is poor policy. We can all tiptoe around the fiscal quagmire that IS the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but all of the icing in the world can’t sweeten this poison pill that they call a State budget.

Here are a few excerpts from the legislator email messages that were received in my “In Box”:

Representative Dick Stevenson (R-8th)

“At a time when state revenues have not yet rebounded, Pennsylvania needs to look to other states and follow their lead to reduce spending, not increase the state budget by $1.2 billion or 4 percent,” said Stevenson, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Neighboring states like Maryland, New Jersey and New York have all taken steps to decrease expenses. They face the same financial obstacles we do, but they realize their taxpayers cannot afford a penny more in increased taxes and fees.”

Representative Brad Roae (R-6th)

“I voted ‘no’ because there is too much spending in the budget bill. Spending has increased by more than $8 billion since Governor Ed Rendell took office. We cannot afford to spend more than a billion dollars more than last year’s budget.

Representative Karen Boback (R-117th)

“I am greatly concerned about the overall spending number of this budget. The 2009-10 budget used all of Pennsylvania’s reserve accounts, and we are facing another deficit at the end of the year. To increase spending by $1.2 billion, which is 4 percent growth, is not wise. We should continue to look for ways to allocate our resources prudently, and we should remain cognizant that federal stimulus funds we have received for the past two years will soon run out. This is just not the time to increase state spending. “

Representative Sam Rohrer (R-128th)

“The current administration has led Pennsylvania down the path to fiscal insolvency,” Rohrer said. “The budget approved today by the House is simply a continuation of the fiscally irresponsible practices of the last eight years. It spends too much, disregards financial reality and ignores the wishes of Pennsylvanians.”

Representative William Adolf (R-165th)

“While I am pleased to see us debating the budget this early in the process, I believe the spending plan that was passed today is taking us in the wrong direction,” Adolph said. “This budget spends far more than we can afford, and it sets us up for some major financial problems in the near future.”

Representative Michele Brooks (R-17th)

“I agree that government should be listening to the people it serves and address the numerous calls to live within its means. This spending plan is a fiscal train wreck that does not reflect the priorities of the people who are paying the bills and who have told us government must operate more efficiently and effectively.

In Closing . . .

HERE is a link to the budget document, and HERE is a link to the House Vote (which ended at 107 to 89 . . . pretty much along party lines).

My father used a saying when I was a kid. I never had a purpose for it until today. He would say “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear”. I find that analogy to be perfect in this situation. House Bill 2279 is a sows ear. It will be the job of the State Senate to transform it into a silk purse before June 30th.

Unfortunately, my faith in the ability of the Senate to bend and twist this sows ear into something attractive is limited. Our State Senators are concerned about having their names tethered to another delayed budget. That concern will make them hold their nose and vote FOR this “train wreck” with hopes of not drawing attention to themselves. They are crossing their fingers, closing their eyes, and praying for this election year to blow over without incident.

Time will soon tell.

Mar 23, 2010

Attorney General Tom Corbett Says 'Justice Has Been Served"

I just don't understand why Attorney General Tom Corbett has to continue to hold a press conference for every single thing. It's like Corbett is here, over there, and everywhere. Did Corbett really need to hold a press conference to comment on the verdict in this case. Ridiculous! So he is celebrating a case that has taken him 3 years to investigate.
(The Times Tribune) Despite acquittal on charges of per diem abuse, a jury convicted former Rep. Michael Veon and two aides on the most serious public corruption charges of conspiring to defraud the people of Pennsylvania, state Attorney General Tom Corbett said Tuesday.

"We believe justice has been served by the verdict," Mr. Corbett said at a press conference.

With the first landmark case in the three-year "Bonusgate" investigation into legislative corruption behind him, the attorney general outlined a series of court hearings and trials for other defendants in the next two months that should keep the investigation in the news.

Click Here To Read More
This press conference should have been more about where do we go from here and what cases are going to be prosecuted next not a lecture on how Pennsylvanians should hold their legislators more accountable. Garbage!

Also: Pa. AG outlines legal challenge to health care law (Forbes)

$29B budget bill passes Pa. House, heads to Senate

Apparently the state House is trying to get a jump start on budget negotiations this year. Yesterday the House passed Governor Rendell's budget proposal.Last year Pennsylvania didn't have a final budget until the end of October. Although the move looks promising, Rendell's budget once again calls for wasteful increases in state spending which isn't going to go over well in the Republican controlled Senate
The bill would increase spending by about 4 percent and would require no increase in any broad-based taxes. It will rely on about $3 billion in federal budget aid, including some that Congress is expected to approve.

But the state's tax collections are running behind expectations this year and Republicans say cutbacks are needed.

Click Here To Read More
This is not responsible leadership by Governor Rendell or the Democratic leaders in the House. We are smarter than they think. If they know that the Senate is not going to go along with spending increases why then are they even proposing them? It is a joke and voters in Pennsylvania understand it is a joke.

Once again Governor Rendell will hold Pennsylvanians hostage until he strong arms his spending increases through the legislature. Republicans Senators need to stand firm and call for no spending increases this year considering that state revenues are under the original projections.

More: Pa. House passes a budget, early - but hold the accolades (John Bare, Daily News)

Tea partiers vow revenge over health overhaul

Tea partiers vow revenge over health overhaul

Toomey Destroying Specter In Latest Franklin & Marshall Poll

NEW Franklin & Marshall POLL:


In The Race For Governor:
  • Onorato 6% Wagner 6% Hoeffel 6%
  • Corbett 26% & Rohrer 4%
According to the poll many voters are still undecided on who they are planning to support in the primaries. Seven in ten registered Democrats say they are undecided, and the frontrunner position is shared by three of the candidates−Dan Onorato, Jack Wagner, and Joe Hoeffel. Corbett is still enjoying a hefty lead in the Republican primary.

In The Race For Senate:

Toomey 44% Specter 34% (among likely voters)
Toomey 38% Sestak 20%
Specter 33% Sestak 16%

The poll reveals that this race is shaping up to be a referendum on Specter more than anything else. Likely voters are wiling to vote for Toomey despite knowing very little about him. This combined with Specter's favorable/unfavorable numbers indicate that things are not looking good right for Pennsylvania's Senior Senator.

Tea Party Movement Support

Also in the poll, the Tea Party movements seems to be a major factor in Pennsylvania. 39% of respondents indicated that they supported the Tea Party movement to 29% who say they oppose the movement. Even better 45% of respondents indicated that they would support a candidate who supports the Tea Party movement's goals.

Corbett Caught Selling Get out of Jail Free Cards?

Oliver Hall is Ralph Nader's lawyer and he uncovered a damaging piece of information that Attorney General Tom Corbett would like to keep quiet.

It could smash Corbett's Pennsylvania "Idol" image as it puts a sour taste in the mouths of voters who will question not only Corbett's honesty and commitment to the law, it will make them wonder who else he is willing to throw under the bus to pad his own pockets. He has already has a history as being a money magnet for special interests including casinos interests and the most powerful Teachers union.

Click Here To Read Hall's Piece In The Corporate Crime Reporter

After reading YOU will likely question if you can trust TOM CORBETT as your next Governor?

Did the party boss Robert Gleason and the Republican party machine blow it once again and bet on the wrong Pretty faced horse. Last time Republicans endorsed the popular and clueless Lynn Swann. This time they endorsed the arrogant Corbett over the peoples favorite Sam Rohrer because Sam bucked the bosses and took the lead to dethrone his own parties Speaker of the House John Perzel, who is now up on 185 charges of misusing taxpayer money. Once again Sam Rohrer beat Corbett to the punch.


Ralph Nader, to qualify for the 2004 Presidential ballot had to obtain 25,000 legitimate signatures on a petition in Pennsylvania. He obtained 51,000. The Pennsylvania Democratic party was concerned that Nader would steal votes from their Kerry /Edwards ticket in a close race. They enlisted the service of the Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith legal firm to work over time with state employees to help them challenge and disqualify enough votes to keep Nader off off the ballot.

A Pennsylvania court backed Reed Smith eventually invalidating 30,000 of those signatures keeping Nader off the ballot. The court also ruled Ralph Nader to reimbursed Reed Smith $81,000 for related court costs. Nader hired Hall to fight it. That was 6 years ago. On April 21, 2010 they are to finally meet in court and Reed Smith made an effort to attached Naders bank accounts.

In a Shocking and surprise move Attorney General Tom Corbett was slapped with a request to recuse himself from investigating Reed Smith in the Bonusgate trial. "Bonusgate" was a result of Democrats being changed with paying bonuses to state workers for these disqualification efforts out of taxpayer money.

Oliver Stone made this request pointing out that Tom Corbett had filed a grand jury presentment that implicated the Democrat's “law firm” in its participation in the conduct under investigation in Bonusgate. Reed Smith claimed it had done the campaign work probono. Corbett sure hadn't ever brought up charges agasint them. In fact did anyone recall any investigation?


Hall pointed out damaging testimony from a number of witnesses in the Bonusgate trial who pointed to Reed Smith for being much more involved. He also showed evidence the firm was awarded over $136,000 in bonuses for this same time period that they claimed to be doing probono work. With such testimony on the record WHY wasn't our Attorney General diving further into this investigation?

Oliver Hall called for Corbett to RECUSE himself from investigating the Pittsburgh firm of Reed Smith and in doing so stated the following:
"We discovered that in August 2008, not six weeks after Corbett filed this grand jury presentment implicating an unnamed law firm in this criminal conspiracy that Corbett had accepted at least $15,900 in campaign contributions to his re-election campaign as Attorney General from Reed Smith and from the litigators at Reed Smith,” Hall stated.

“This is an unacceptable conflict of interest.”

“More to the point, Corbett himself has pledged that in his twin roles as Attorney General and now as a candidate for Governor, that he would not accept campaign contributions from parties who he may be investigating.”

“And that’s exactly what he did here. We asked that Corbett return the campaign contributions. He refused.”

“And we put out a press release. To this day, to my knowledge, he has not returned the campaign contributions – despite his pledge not to take money from people he should be investigating.”

“Here you have an Attorney General running for Governor, benefitting from a reputation as a crusader against this massive criminal conspiracy involving political corruption in the state legislature,” Hall says.

“He’s prosecuting these mid and low level state employees – who by all accounts were simply following the orders of their supervisors – often unwillingly and at pain of losing their jobs. And they were doing it apparently in consultation with legal counsel.”

“And yet these mid and low level state employees are now facing jail time. Whereas the attorneys who they were working with have gotten away without as so much as a slap on the wrist.”
A Reed Smith Spokesman offered the following:
"Reed Smith did indeed help coordinate the Nader challenge and contributed hundreds of hours to the effort. Reed Smith has no knowledge of any bonuses paid to legislative staffers and had on the contrary been assured that any such volunteers had been working on their own time.

Reed Smith successfully uncovered what President Judge James G. Colins of the Commonwealth Court called ‘the most deceitful and fraudulent exercise ever perpetrated upon this court.' Mr. Nader’s accusations of misconduct against these lawyers now, six years after the fact, are wholly without merit."
Oliver Hall was ready for them and responded with:
"Read Justice Thomas Saylor’s dissent –which the majority simply ignored,” “He notes that the record contains ‘no evidence’ of any fraudulent conduct by anyone associated with the Nader/Camejo campaign.”

“Judge Colins’ own factual findings indicate that only a tiny handful of the signatures – 1.3 percent of the total – were counted as so-called forgeries – resulting from pranks or sabotage by signers.”
TOM CORBETT needs to explain:

1) Why wasn't testimony pointing to Reed Hall investigated?

2) Do you understand the term "Quid Pro Quo" > Explain how that did not occur here when after YOU accepted their campaign donation YOU stopped investigating this Bonusgate involved Pittsburgh legal firm ? Friends of yours?

3) Do you include yourself in the mix when you state you will clean up corruption in Harrisburg?

4) Why do you continue to avoid a real debate with the peoples choice for Governor. SAM ROHRER?