Saturday, August 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Capitol Crimes

For those keeping score at home, we're up to 22 convictions or guilty please in state legislative scandals -- and we're still counting, and wondering.

Capitol Crimes

For all of you keeping score at home, the state Legislature's various scams, scandals and corruption schemes now tally 22 convictions or guilty pleas.

Gotta make ya Pennsylvania Proud.

Plus, we're not yet done counting, or wondering why there aren't even more.

Former Democratic House Whip Mike Veon yesterday went down for the second time, convicted of 10 felonies in Dauphin County Court in connection with charges he used tax dollars to create a non-profit development group that then used its money for personal and political gain.

The former Beaver County lawmaker with 22 years in office already is serving 6-14 years for his role in giving away $1.8 million in taxpayer money to legislative staffers as reward for working on campaigns.

He's scheduled to be sentenced on his second conviction April 14.

The numbers so far from the nation's largest full-time Legislature: 25 arrests, 22 convictions or pleas (13 Democrats and 9 Republicans), two acquittals, one case of dropped charges and one former lawmaker still awaiting trial -- former Rep. Stephen Stetler, a York County Democrat.

Meanwhile, convicted felon and former Democratic House Speaker Bill DeWeese, still a member of the House (elected in 1976), is on the reelection ballot in Greene County and could be nominated for another term on the same day, April 24, that he's scheduled to be sentenced to prison.

This sets up the prospect of DeWeese being bounced from the House, then sent to prison, then reelected in November while sitting behind bars, an event that would surely garner Pennsylvania some additional national attention.

Behind all of this, however, lurks the question of whatever happened to then-AG, now-Gov. Corbett's supposed probe of the state Senate. When stuff starting popping five years ago, we all were assured the Republican-dominated Senate also was a target of investigation.

Since then? Zippo.

Whenever one asks, the AG's office says the investigation is "ongoing." But the fact no senator or Senate staffer has been charged leads many to question why. Did early concentration on the House give the Senate time to "lose" evidence? Or is the Senate simply a stand-up model of decency and good government as opposed to the House?

The other backdrop question is what's the deal with John Perzel? The former Republican House Speaker pleaded quilty in August to eight of 82 counts against him related to using millions of dollars in taxpayer money for computer technology to use in campaigns.

Why hasn't he been sentenced? Theory is he's singing, maybe to state prosecutors, maybe to the feds. Certainly during his 30 years in office, especially the last several in positions of power, he learned where the bodies are buried.

Point is, we got big numbers and we ain't done. So keep your scorecards handy.

 

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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