The Philadelphia Inquirer's Mario Cattabiani and Angela Couloumbis dropped a bombshell of a story today. The story directly implicates former Majority Leader Bill DeWeese in Bonusgate. DeWeese has vehemently denied any involvement for the last two years.
But records turned over to defendants in the case by Attorney General Tom Corbett appear to paint a different picture of the onetime House Democratic leader, who has not been charged in the ongoing investigation.
Documents show that in 2006, facing a stiff challenge in an election he nearly lost, Mr. DeWeese's campaign tapped a state-paid computer consultant -- a key figure in the Bonusgate probe -- to perform a long list of political tasks.
Among other duties, that consultant crafted fundraising invitations and sent out blast e-mails to constituents in Mr. DeWeese's district in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania.
The documents, provided to The Inquirer by a defendant, also indicate that the Greene County Democrat exchanged campaign-related messages with his legislative staffers on state e-mail accounts.
Hold on, the story gets even better...
"I love it," Mr. DeWeese responded in September 2006 to a legislative aide of his who had just drafted a letter for a constituent to send to the local newspaper supporting the representative's campaign.
"Great work," Mr. DeWeese wrote with 44 exclamation points when told by campaign operatives in April that party canvassers had knocked on nearly 600 doors.
State law prohibits public dollars from being used for campaign-related purposes.
The documents -- more than 100 in all -- were given to The Inquirer by Brett Cott, a former top aide to House Democrats who is facing 42 corruption counts. As required by law, state prosecutors provided the documents to Mr. Cott and the other defendants as part of the discovery phase of the case.
Mr. Cott's attorney, Bryan Walk, said the documents "speak for themselves."
Asked to elaborate, Mr. Walk said: "We're disappointed that Brett is charged for allegedly doing political work on state time when it appears that there were other people who did the same -- or more things -- on state time who weren't charged."
These documents do speak and they're screaming, "DeWeese wasn't as ignorant as he'd like you to believe."
DeWeese had a prepared statement in response to these "newly" found documents.
Mr. DeWeese, in his prepared statement, said that prosecutors have decided to not charge him "based on the totality of the evidence over a two-year period, which included thousands of e-mails and other documents that we turned over to them and the sworn testimony of hundreds of witnesses whom we urged to cooperate."
DeWeese might seriously consider coming up with a new story because his current one is falling apart faster than the New York Mets in September.
This new information can lead to one of three conclusions:
- Attorney General Tom Corbett doesn't know what he's doing and decided to completely ignore any evidence found which implicated DeWeese. This is rather unlikely.
- Corbett and DeWeese had a secret deal in place that had the former Majority Leader turn over everything the AG wanted and in return the AG would not go after DeWeese. There's no way of ruling this one out yet, but I highly doubt that it actually happened.
- Corbett has been holding off on charging DeWeese, so that he can continue his trend of "coincidentally" using Bonusgate for political gain. Factoring in all of the information, this is the most logical choice. From DeWeese's perspective; he truly believed that he wasn't found out after the initial Bonusgate charges were released. He's fighting Eachus for the sacred Chadwick file because it implicates him in Bonusgate and he doesn't want to be exposed. After all, he's been running with the "I'm not corrupt, I'm just ignorant story" for two years, so why fix something that's been working adequately? From Corbett's perspective; this is business as usual and everything is going to plan. He waited until last July (before the elections) to charge a bunch of Democrats, but held off on charging DeWeese. This move wasn't "intentionally" political (or so he says) but was likely a big reason why he won reelection. After he secured reelection he continued his investigation and to appear bipartisan, he "began" investigated the GOP, but in reality he's been solidifying a case against DeWeese. So, in order to help his run for Governor in 2010, Corbett will come out with new charges that implicate DeWeese and a few low-level Republicans a few months before the primary elections and all of a sudden it will appear that Corbett handled Bonusgate objectively (which would likely propel him to the GOP nomination for governor). On a side note; which story would be bigger to the media; DeWeese being charged in Bonusgate or a few low-level Republicans being charged in Bonusgate? (If you guessed, DeWeese being charged, you're a winner). If Corbett did this, he would continue to make the Democrats look foolish. All of the media's focus would be on the corrupt Democrat and the Republicans that are charged wouldn't take much heat. Simplifying this ridiculously long paragraph; DeWeese is Corbett's ace-in-the-hole.