December 3, 2015 |
IT WAS LATE 2009. Then-state Rep. Bill DeWeese sat in a conference room at the Attorney General's Office in Harrisburg filled with investigators and prosecutors. Frank Fina, a lead prosecutor on a series of political-corruption scandals that would rock Harrisburg and ultimately would send DeWeese to prison, had breasts on his mind. Fina asked DeWeese whether he knew that one of his legislative staffers had used an illegal $5,000 bonus to get a " 'tit job,' " according to DeWeese, a Democrat who served as House speaker and majority whip.
November 26, 2014 |
HARRISBURG - One day soon, his portrait will hang next to Benjamin Franklin's in the main hall of the state Capitol. But on Monday, House Speaker Sam Smith (R., Jefferson) bid farewell to staff, lobbyists, and the press corps at a luncheon speech. During his talk, Smith served up stories about high points - a partisan conflagration in Gov. Rendell's office - and low points - the "Bonusgate" investigation - of his 28 years in the legislature. Smith, whose north-central Pennsylvania district is most famous as the home of Punxsutawney Phil, ends his three-year stint as speaker this month when he retires from office.
September 24, 2013
AS OUR HAPLESS Legislature returns today from extended summer break, dragging its 11 percent approval rating with it, seems a good time to talk about a state gone wrong. More precisely, a new book by Pittsburgh Tribune-Review journalist Brad Bumsted, Keystone Corruption: A Pennsylvania Insider's View of a State Gone Wrong (Camino Books). If I were in charge, there'd be a copy on each lawmaker's desk in the House and Senate chambers. Maybe, just maybe, reading it could move a few to start restoring a semblance of respectability to the institution they inhabit.
December 2, 2012 |
SCRANTON - Robert J. Mellow, a former leader of Pennsylvania's Senate Democrats whose portrait hangs in the state Capitol, was sentenced Friday to 16 months in prison on public-corruption charges. U.S. District Judge Joel Slomsky ordered Mellow, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in May, to pay nearly $80,000 in restitution to the state Senate, along with a $40,000 fine to the federal government. Mellow has already paid $31,000 in restitution for filing a bogus tax return. The former lawmaker issued a brief apology to the court.
May 25, 2012 |
HARRISBURG - He is being picketed almost daily by demonstrators in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh - a tin man without a heart, they call him. His Facebook page teems with complaints from angry Pennsylvanians. And his poll numbers have started to sag. Enough, say top political advisers, supporters, and fund-raisers to Gov. Corbett. Though they have anxiously watched for months as Corbett has fielded political hits on everything from policy to personality, they are now encouraging the governor to shake things up in hopes of shaking off what they think is turning into a growing image problem.
April 25, 2012 |
HARRISBURG — In the span of several hours Tuesday, former top House Democrat Bill DeWeese quit his legislative seat, attempted to win it back, and was sentenced to 2-1/2 to five years in prison for crimes committed while he was in office. DeWeese, 62, resigned the seat he held for nearly 36 years shortly before a judge sentenced him for theft and other political corruption convictions stemming from the wide-ranging "Bonusgate "investigation in the Capitol. He was also ordered to pay $25,000 in fines and $116,000 in restitution to the state.
April 24, 2012 |
HARRISBURG — Former House Democratic leader Bill DeWeese was sentenced today to 2-1/2 to 5 years in prison for theft and other political corruption charges stemming from the wide-ranging Bonusgate investigation in the Capitol. In sentencing DeWeese, Dauphin County President Judge Todd Hoover called the former legislator "the instigator" of the criminal activity, and said he violated the public trust. DeWeese, 62, who resigned his southwestern Pennsylvania legislative seat effective noon Tuesday, has said he will appeal his conviction.
April 17, 2012 |
HARRISBURG - The culture of Harrisburg politics wasn't what made him do it. He and he alone was responsible for his crimes in the Bonusgate scandal. So said Mike Manzo, a onetime top House Democratic staffer, moments before a judge sentenced him Monday to up to four years in prison. Manzo, who went from Bonusgate defendant to the prosecution's key witness, was sentenced to 18 to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $95,000 in fines and restitution for his role in the wide-ranging conspiracy to use taxpayer money and resources for political gain.
February 27, 2012
IN THE 1997 Jack Nicholson/Helen Hunt Oscar-nominated film "As Good as It Gets," Nicholson's character - in a group therapy session - asks, fittingly, "What if this is as good as it gets?" When it comes to leadership in Harrisburg, where everyone is or should be in therapy, the same question ia appropriate. And, if this is as good as it gets, Pennsylvania needs a political lobotomy. Anyone looking at anything connected to the Capitol these days would condone radical response: if not surgery, certainly torches and pitchforks.