Witness at corruption trial: Rendell's people did it, too

The corruption trial of former State Rep. Mike Veon continues in Western Pennsylvania. Eric Webb, a former top aide to Veon, told the jury yesterday that Democrats kept detailed information on a scheme to use state money to pay for campaign work.

Mr. Webb, who was granted immunity, admitted that he maintained statistics on the amount and kind of political work done by House Democratic staffers. That list was later used to determine bonus amounts.

The biggest surprise? Webb's testimony implicated some other big fish in the scandal.

Mr. Webb testified that John Estey, former chief of staff to Gov. Ed Rendell, ordered opposition research to be conducted on 2006 Republican gubernatorial hopefuls Bill Scranton and Lynn Swann. Mr. Webb said that work was assigned to state workers who on state time had been digging up court filings, voting records and other material on political foes.

Reached by e-mail yesterday, Mr. Estey denied requesting the research.

If the jury believes this, it could be a big deal -- because if Rendell's people did it, then maybe everybody id it, and it's not fair for Veon to go to trial.

We'll see.

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