Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pols in Prison

There's at least a chance that former Democratic House Speaker Bill DeWeese and former Republican House Speaker John Perzel could meet up behind bars this week.

Pols in Prison

There's at least a chance that former Democratic House Speaker Bill DeWeese and former Republican House Speaker John Perzel could meet up behind bars this week.

DeWeese on Monday began serving time for public corruption with processing and paperwork at Dauphin County Prison in Harrisburg. He might already be in (or on his way to) the nearby State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill where Perzel is being held for what's called "diagnostic evaluation and programming" before being sent off to his "home" institution.

Perzel reported April 24. Processing, according to state corrections officials, takes four to six weeks, so the two have a chance of bumping into each other. Both are sentenced to roughly two to five years in separate scams involving using tax dollars for political campaigns.

DeWeese, as he was entering prison, told a Harrisburg TV news crew the following:

“I just want to say three things. One, I’m going to behave myself and obviously conform to the protocols of the institution; two, I’m going to stay in tip-top physical condition; and third and finally, I’m going to make some new friends."

(I don't even want to think about that third thing.)

There's also a chance, each former leader could meet up with other colleagues later.

Former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon (convicted in two corruption cases) is in Laurel Highlands in southwestern Pennsylvania. Former Lycoming County GOP Rep. Brett Feese (who's also a former DA and headed the House Republican Campaign Committee) is in Waymart in the far northeastern section of the state.

There are 27 state correctional facilities (hey, we need a lot of room just for our pols), only two of which are for women (another argument for more women in public life).

So soon-to-be former state Sen. Jane Orie (a one-time member of GOP Senate leadership), who's awaiting sentencing, gets either Cambridge Springs in the far northwest or Muncy in the state's north central area.

Former Democratic Senate Leader Bob Mellow is also awaiting sentencing, but on federal charges. There's an outside chance he could end up with former Democratic Senate powerhouse Vince Fumo, who's serving his term in a federal prison in Ashland, Kentucky.

I'm sure these folks would just love to hang out together behind bars, you know, like they used to hang out together in front of bars.

Then again, I'm betting lots of taxpayers hope that their incarerated former public servants "make some new friends."

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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