The LuLac Edition #518, July 10th, 2008
A current and a former state lawmaker are among the 12 charged in a sweeping investigation of the state Legislature.
The 12 face charges including theft, criminal conspiracy and conflict of interest and as part of a grand jury probe into bonuses paid to employees of the Pennsylvania Legislature and the possibility that state resources were used in political campaigns. State Rep. Sean Ramaley, D-Beaver and Allegheny counties, Mike Veon, former House Democratic Minority Whip, and Michael Manzo, the former chief of staff to Pennsylvania Democratic House Majority Leader H. William DeWeese are among those charged by Attorney General Tom Corbett's public corruption unit after an 18-month investigation.
After an hourlong press conference, Corbett accused the 12 of stealing "millions of dollars of taxpayers funds, resources and state employees for political campaign purposes." The political implications of this are huge because Veon was always House Leader Bill DeWeese’s number 2 man. Did DeWeese know what was going on? If so, did he condone the behavior? Or did he let his underlings do the political grunt work while he grandstanded in the House Chambers. And the man, I’ll give him this, is quite the orator. Either way, Deweese looks like an accomplice in these indictments or a very poor leader who let the mices steal the cheese. Governor Rendell weighed in this afternoon too. The Guv told reporters in Harrisburg that this was a cry for reform of the Legislative branch of government but was also quick to acknowledge that even under a cloud of suspicion, the State House did very good work in enacting legislation during the last session helpful to Pennsylvanians. Meanwhile on PCN in a show hosted by one of the “LuLac Women We Love” category, Francine Shertzer, Republican Senater Jeff Piccolla said he took no pleasure in the Democrat's problems but pointed out they brought it on themselves. Tom Corbett has received high marks for the handling of the investigation and has avoided a political conflict by announcing the indictments early enough so as not to interfere with his re-election bid as Attorney General. Corbett has been mentioned as a possible GOP choice for Governor in 2010.
Also charged are: Jeff Foreman, chief counsel to House Democratic Majority Whip Keith McCall and former Veon chief of staff; Rachel Manzo, executive director of the House Democratic Policy Committee and wife of Michael Manzo; Scott Brubaker, the caucus's former director of administration for DeWeese; Jennifer Brubaker, director of the Legislative Research Office for the House Democratic Caucus; Patrick Lavelle, a research analyst for the caucus; Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink, former legislative assistant to House Democratic whip; Stephen Keefer, the caucus's former information technology director; Earl Mosley, the caucus's director of personnel; Brett Cott, former special assistant to House Democratic Leader. For 18 months, Corbett's public corruption unit have been investigating whether any of $3.6 million in taxpayer-funded bonuses paid in all four caucuses to legislative staffers during the 2005-06 session. This was first brought to light by the fine reporting of the Harrisburg Patriot News.
Not to be outdone, local radio talk show host Steve Corbett had a hankering to go to Senator Bob Mellow’s big political summertime event at Montage next Wednesday. So he began asking around as a regular guy and found that he could get the tickets for the Mellow political fundraiser at any local Mellow district office. Even had a name and contact and was told the guy was in the office to chat. A few minutes later he called back as “Corbett”, radio host and investigative superman and was told the same guy was not available. That led to some comments from Corbett, the host and citizen. The Mellow event is huge. Anyone who is anyone has been attending for years. You would think though with the spotlight on the comingling of legislative staff work and political fundraising, especially on the day the indictments came down for Mellow’s party, you’d think the staffers might have been a little more careful. Or had a heads up. Nope. Pure arrogance. I mean you'd think that, right?
AUTISM BILL PASSES
Just so you don’t think the Legislators have done nothing, here’s a news item. Gov. Ed Rendell has signed a bill that advocates for people with autism say will make the state a national leader in helping children with autism. Rendell signed the bill Wednesday at The Vista School in Hershey, which serves children with autism. After much wrangling during the past week, a bill finally passed both the state House and Senate. It requires health insurers to pay up to $36,000 per year toward medically necessary treatments of autism. Covered treatments include applied behavior analysis, a long-term therapy intended to teach people with autism to perform normal tasks. The bill requires insurers to cover medically necessary treatments forpeople up to age 21. Health plans covering small businesses with less than 50 employees are exempt. Local resident George Shadie has been an advocate for Autism legislation and has done numerous shows with WYOU TV’s Eric Sheiner on this important issue.