The LuLac Edition #1381, Nov. 23rd, 2010
PHOTO INDEX: RAY MUSTO FROM HIS VERY FIRST CAMPAIGN IN 1971.
THOUGHTS ON MUSTO
I started my day at work today thinking the State Senator from our area that would have a less than desirable Thanksgiving would have been Bob Mellow. Instead the news came down today that Ray Musto was indicted. Call me naive, call me a babe in the woods but I’m stunned. Throughout Ray Musto’s long career in government there wasn’t a hint of scandal. This is the guy who walked out of the Abscam scammers when he was a Congressman. No relative of mine works for Musto and those who do work for him or did either ignore me or hate my guts. I campaigned as a high school Junior for Musto when he ran for late Representative to succeed his late father. I thought it was the right thing to do. I met Musto three more times during his tenure. He always said if I ever needed anything in Harrisburg, even to use his office, to stop by. I never did.
Musto has been forthright since the charges were announced submitting to a Times Leader interview as well as going on “Corbett” on WILK this afternoon. He says he will fight the charges and I hope he does. Here’s why:
1. Musto was charged with with honest services wire fraud, corrupt receipt of a reward for official action and making false statements to a federal agent. The easiest charge to throw at anyone is Mail or wire Fraud. That charge is like the proverbial fortune cookie as a throw in with Chinese take out. The corrupt receipt of a reward also bothers me because the name of the company who bribed him is not made public. Why? And then the name of Robert Mericle surfaces. Mercile as we all know pleaded to a few charges and gave the feds Lord knows what in his cooperation. Making false statements to an agent is also a boilerplate charge because no one in their right mind would say to an agent, “Yep I did it, don’t know what I did and what you’re looking for, but yep, I did it”. All of those things bother me.
2. My second question is “where is the pattern”? All of a sudden after 35 years in public life Ray Musto goes off the rails morally? I’d love to see the “intent” behind this deal. It looks to me like Musto was trying to refurbish a building and help someone out. Maybe he should have paid more attention to detail but my question is “where is the pattern?” Did this guy ever go on a junket coming back with a tropical shirt on? Jeez, did this guy ever take a vacation? Sorry Senator but if you were taking kickbacks, it wasn’t to improve your wardrobe. The Senator dressed like a guy from Pittston. Functional suit, tie and shirt. Designers? Uh..no.
3. Much is made of Robert Mericles campaign contributions to Musto. If I had Mericle’s money, I’d have contributed to Ray. But if I gave $29,000 in legal contributions, why isn’t there a pattern of spending, unless of course this was a personal rainy day fund which may come out if that fact is true.
4. On the $3,000 charge from the municipal authority agent, I say, “who was it?”
Those are my questions. Do you mean to tell me that with all of Tom Corbett’s investigations in Bonus Gate, he ignored Ray Musto? Musto made a serious misstep. And it could ruin his reputation and even land him in jail. But he says he’s going to fight the charges in Court. I hope he does. And remember, even with the more than 30 guilty pleas the last few years, remember the person who was proven innocent when an overzealous prosecutor went after him in the late 90s. Let’s hope if there is nothing to these charges, Ray Musto can pull a “Joe McDade” and walk away from this thing with his innocence and dignity in tact. In the meantime, there should be no rush to judgement. Until the Judge opens the trial and the Senator gets his day to tell it all.