The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Brad Bumsted gives a Bonusgate financial update.
The tab for outside lawyers for the House and Senate is $8.2 million since 2007, records show. The taxpayer-financed bonuses, which triggered a state grand jury investigation, totaled $3.6 million.
A former Democratic lawmaker and staffers face felony charges for allegedly using the bonuses to reward staffers for campaign work. But it's the House Republicans who have the highest legal bills, at $3.7 million. During the past two years, it the investigation appeared to broaden beyond bonuses into an examination of state tax dollars used for political purposes.
State lawmakers typically would be recessed for summer, but they are looking at cutting state services, laying off state employees or raising taxes in a budget dispute that hits its 36th day today.
"When you are wasting millions, and old folks are worried about getting Meals On Wheels, and they spend $8 million on lawyers?" said Don Thomson, chairman of the Conservative Coalition, a group of about 300 people in Westmoreland County.
"When you spend that much money, there is obviously something wrong with it, especially when you are cutting programs in other areas," said Thomson, 67, a retired railroad marketing official in North Huntingdon.
In addition to the House GOP legal tab, the House Democrats spent $2.8 million and Senate Republicans, $1.7 million. The tab for Senate Democrats could not be obtained Tuesday, but in February, it was $5,000.
Why would the Republicans need to spend $3.7 million (more than the combined total of the actual bonuses) on legal costs when only Democrats have been charged?
Hold on, maybe I'll find my answer if I reword that last sentence a little. The Republicans have spent $3.7 million (more than the combined total of the actual bonuses) on legal costs to avoid being charged.
When will AG Tom Corbett charge Republicans and justify their lofty legal bill? Or, maybe Corbett just enjoys running up the bill for taxpayers.
The bottom line; it's nice to see Corbett using the same "urgency" in Bonusgate that his fellow lawmakers are using in the budget negotiations.
The clock is ticking...