Archive for the ‘Bonusgate’ Category

It didn’t take long for me to realize that Pennyslvania House Democrats were extremely arrogant people. All it took was for me to read the first couple paragraphs of Dennis Roddy’s and Tracie Mauriello’s article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Here’s all the proof I needed:

In startlingly blunt language, a group of aides, at points working under the direction of then-House Minority Whip Michael Veon, D-Beaver, rated the political work of state employees, sometimes adjusting the amounts of the bonuses based on time they spent in the field or, in one instance, in getting presidential candidate Ralph Nader off the Pennsylvania ballot.

“Mainly, I based my decisions on the number of days people spent in the field,” wrote Eric Webb, director of Democratic member services, in one of the e-mails, “but a few people were bumped up for extra efforts, like being a phone bank captain,” or “helping with the Spanish phone bank.”

That isn’t the only proof of their arrogance in this article. Here’s another example of their arrogance:

An e-mail Mr. Webb wrote to Mr. Manzo in August of 2005 suggests that Mr. Webb made the initial determination about payroll bonuses that year.

In an attached spreadsheet, Mr. Webb lists various employees and their accomplishments. The “rock stars” include more than a dozen House aides, including Mr. Manzo’s wife, Rachel, Mr. Veon’s top aide, Brett Cott, and Mr. Webb himself. Notations in column G, contain such comments as “went off payroll for 7 days,” “helped with oppo research,” “team captain, spent a month volunteering,” “phone bank leader,” and “volunteer coordinator.”

Then there’s this:

Mr. Brubaker had something of the same opinion about his own political work, telling Mr. Manzo at one point that he thought one staff member, Jonathan L. Price, a policy analyst, deserved more money in his year-end bonus.

“26 days in the field along with oppo plus the $$. He’s a star compared to me,” Mr.
Brubaker said, suggesting his own bonus was excessive.

“Good point on Price,” Mr. Manzo replied. “Add another grand. You’re staying put though!!!!”

“Will do. On both,” Mr. Brubaker responded. “Thanks so much. Very generous.”

“Enjoy,” Mr. Manzo responded. “Get yourself that new truck!!!”

That’s what supreme arrogance sounds like. These Democrats are talking this way because they’ve always gotten away with talking this way. It’s like a grizzly or lion in their domain. They don’t hide their movements because they’re kings of their environments. Democrats think of themselves as kings of their domain (the centers of government).

A perfect example of this malady, at least on the national level, is John Murtha. His arrogance is unsurpassed. Robert Byrd is another example.

At some point, Pennsylvania voters will have to ask this simple question: Am I willing to let these politicians pick my pocket to pay for their campaign ‘volunteers’? This is costing taxpayers real money. Isn’t it time for them to pay for their campaigns themselves?

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This Brad Bumsted article offers a perfect translation of Bill DeWeese’s statements. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

DeWeese: “Last July, after reviewing these same documents, I directed that Mr. LaGrotta’s employment with the caucus be terminated.” (After losing the May 2006 primary, LaGrotta had been given a job working for the caucus.)

Potts: “But did DeWeese ask for the money back? Or was LaGrotta right last January when he e-mailed his niece: ‘You can pay it back if you choose but no one here is asking that’?”

Potts is former DeWeese speechwriter Tim Potts. Now they’re butting heads on issue after issue, which has to be DeWeese’s worst nightmare. Here’s more:

DeWeese: “When we learned about these allegations (against LaGrotta) several months ago, I directed my staff to fully cooperate with the attorney general’s investigation and we provided many of the documents referenced in today’s (grand jury) presentment, including the e-mails.”

Potts: “DeWeese doesn’t mention that he went to court to obstruct the attorney general’s investigation into the Bonusgate scandal, challenging lawful subpoenas and search warrants. DeWeese was also the last caucus leader to make pubic who got the bonuses and how much they got.”

I think Mr. DeWeese has met his match. Tim Potts obviously has his number. Potts will keep calling that number, too, because he’s now on the opposite side of the reform issue than DeWeese.

I strongly recommend reading Brad Bumsted’s column. It’s very enlightening.

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If this article by Tracie Mauriello and Dennis Roddy is verified, then Bonusgate just went from alarming to monstrous. Here’s the first paragraph:

State investigators rushed to seize 20 boxes of records from House Democratic offices after a tip that they were about to be destroyed, and now the state attorney general is weighing possible obstruction-of-justice charges in an ongoing probe into the use of state employees for political work.

That this was prevented likely means that (a) the AG’s office was already investigating and (b) someone cooperating with the investigation tipped them off. That also likely means that they’ve got an eyewitness ready to testify and/or provide evidence of this potential crime.

The boxes, some of which contained political materials, including extensive opposition research into possible Republican opponents, were taken during a surgically executed raid on the Democratic Office of Legislative Research in August.

These are the records I wrote about here:

Contents of the 20 boxes were “overwhelmingly and patently non-legislative in nature,” said Judge Barry Feudale, who allowed the documents to be considered in a grand jury investigation into whether taxpayer-funded resources were used to run elections. The grand jury also is looking into whether state employees received substantial state bonuses for work on political campaigns.
It is illegal for campaign work to be done in state offices, on state equipment or by state employees on work time.
The boxes, taken by search warrant from the House Democratic Office of Legislative Research on Aug. 23, included files with labels such as “opposition research,” “incumbent protection plan” and “memo on challenger in election.”

Stop and think about this sentence:

Contents of the 20 boxes were “overwhelmingly and patently non-legislative in nature,” said Judge Barry Feudale.

Twenty boxes of documents is a ton of documents. What’s gotta be more troubling than the amount of documents is what’s contained in that massive amount of documents. Though I can’t verify this, it wouldn’t surprise me if the files seized from the House Democratic Office of Legislative Research contained information on Bill DeWeese’s and Mike Veon’s opponents as well as other Republican opponents.

An affidavit attached to the search warrant request indicated that state investigators had been sent a picture of the boxes in the office, where they awaited shredding.

Sources close to the investigation said the order to destroy the records came from inside the House Democratic caucus, and that agents believed the action was imminent when they arranged the early-morning conference with Judge Feudale, who was en route to a hearing in Wayne County when they obtained the expedited order.

We’ll have to wait to see what prosecutors can determine about the role the House Democratic caucus played in this. It’ll be interesting to see which office insider tipped investigators off that these documents’ destruction was imminent.

One thing that’s becoming increasingly apparent is the fact that Bonusgate is getting bigger and more interesting each week. It’s looking like some important Democratic staffers and legislators will be indicted and probably convicted sometime soon.

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