Here's the conversation this morning from around Pennsylvania.
John Baer says this Perzel thing reminds him of a recent situation with another lawmaker from Philly:
It's another tale of the high and mighty brought low; another rise and fall, another city politician up from the neighborhood to statewide power cut down by complex charges of abuse.
The Inky editorial page says Harrisburg is a "bipartisan disgrace":
Taken together, these indictments on both sides of the aisle allege that key members of the House leadership over the past decade were corrupt and ripping off taxpayers. The allegations paint a picture of systematic theft of taxpayers' money by both parties to help them win elections and strengthen their grip on power.
It's not just a few bad apples.
It's an indictment of an accepted culture in the legislature, where protecting incumbency matters more than anything.
Capitol Ideas has quotes from House Minority leader Sam Smith and the House Democratic Campaign Committee, via Chuck Ardo. An excerpt from Smith:
"The grand hury's findings have highlighted the lack of trust the public has in government today. We understand that. House Republicans, as a caucus, have long understood there is a difference between legislative work and campaign work."
"The alleged violations of the public trust revealed in today's presentment speak for themselves. Although it's hard to believe that only a single elected Republican was aware of the massive program.
Moreover, hypocrisy is defined as the pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious belief or principle that one does not really possess."
Will Bunch has some fun with his commenters.
YPP wonders about Tom Corbett's motivations:
It does raise certain questions about whether Perzel was an easier target than perhaps some GOP state lawmakers because his political star amongst other Republicans had been by most accounts somewhat waning in the wake of the Dem takeover of the PA House.
PoliticsPA reports that the Attorney General/Gubernatorial candidate won't resign:
“I’m not running against any of these individuals,” Corbett said, referring to the men and women his office has filed charges against. “I’m not running against any member of the House or the Senate. I have a job to do, and we’re doing that job.”
There are reaction quotes, too. Getting back to Perzel, though, the Patriot-News says there's a systemic problem here, and a clear measure that can be taken to help alleviate it:
This is a perfect example of why we need assurances the spending of legislative funds, especially the millions of dollars sitting in the caucus accounts and spent at legislative leaders’ discretion, is fully disclosed to the public.
Lawmakers keenly wrote themselves out of the right to know law they so proudly passed. That law has allowed citizens to access information from local and state entities that would have been difficult or impossible to get in the past. Now it is time for the General Assembly to fully add itself to the law.
And, finally, the Patriot-News has a response from Perzel, via e-mail:
"First and foremost, I am innocent of the charges against me. I have faithfully served the people of my district, my city and my state for more than 30 years, and I have never used public funds for my personal or political gain.
"Second, this investigation has lasted for nearly three years, and it’s only now, on the eve of his gubernatorial campaign and in response to claims that he was unfairly pursuing only Democrats, that Attorney General Corbett has decided to bring charges against 10 Republicans, including me. It smacks of political opportunism at the expense of my reputation, and I am going to fight very aggressively to prove my innocence."
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