Tuesday, August 19, 2008

DeWeese Not Asked to Open Closed Bonusgate Blast Email Website Contracts

Update September 14, 2008

Update found website also notes DeWeese blast emails as Net the Truth Online has done

Sights on Pennsylvania

emails may tie Bill DeWeese to Bonusgate


No mention in the Herald-Standard article DeWeese boasts about House reforms that DeWeese voted NO on an amendment to the House Bill 443 which would have removed language inserted in the bill which caused the newspaper publishers association to pull its support from the House bill and cast its own weight to Senator Pileggi's open records bill. We explain how as well the House open records bill supported by Rep. DeWeese did not apply to past records, and that feature was retained and also sent over to the Senate.

The Senate bill did not contain the language as in the House version which maintained "blanket exemptions for electronic communications" and it also applied retroactively, so the Senate bill differed dramatically from the DeWeese and company version of open records.

The one feature both House and Senate retained and the only feature the House can be credited with is the "flip of presumption." In other words all records are "open" well, except for the ones that are not.

Net the Truth Online

DeWeese boasts about House reforms
By Jennifer Harr, Herald-Standard

...The July update lists accomplishments in the 2007-2008 legislative session.

In his update, DeWeese notes that the caucus had two objectives: to bring forth legislation that would improve the lives of those in the state, and to have legislation and other measures that would reform operations in the House.

DeWeese noted that the House enacted legislation to help citizens and businesses save money on the high cost of energy, a new funding formula for public schools and a smoking ban for businesses.

He said state representatives also compiled a solid reform record, including passage of open records legislation.

DeWeese indicated that House Democratic Caucus was "instrumental" in ensuring the passage of the new law.


Update: Grassroots PA links to Local Lawmakers Voice Support for DeWeese and citizens make comments (a nod is given by RJF to our posting of Aug. 19 which you are now reading, thanks)


Notice the following Herald-Standard articles

Local lawmakers voice support DeWeese By Jennifer Harr, Herald-Standard 08/18/2008 Updated 08/19/2008 12:06:06 AM EDT

DeWeese moves ahead despite scandal By Rebekah Sungala, Herald-Standard 08/15/2008

appear within a mere few days after we pondered whether any Pennsylvania state lawmakers representing a portion of the same district (Fayette County) state Representative H. William DeWeese represents benefitted in any way from what has been called "tax-payer funded" campaign spam email mailings and "blast" emails which relied on email address lists acquired from a former PA state Democratic caucus staffer turned IT entrepreneur and later a competing outfit which secretly vied for the contract.

By the way, state contracts whose details remain unknown per the (pre-2008 General Election) current Attorney General Tom Corbett report on "bonus-gate". And Pennsylvania state Democratic caucus contract or contracts which remain secret and closed to the public even though the state passed a much-heralded open records act just months ago?

We covered the issue of the "bonusgate" spam or blast emails in our posting PA Bonusgate Lists Helped 2006 Winners and among our links posted this Little fish snag Pa Bonusgate immunity By RICHARD FELLINGER Public Opinion Harrisburg Bureau in addition to providing a link to the Attorney General site, noted as a PRESS RELEASE July 10, 2008

Attorney General Corbett announces charges in legislative bonus investigation - 12 suspects charged in 1st phase of the investigation



Eric Buxton, a former Democratic aide and son of Rep. Ronald Buxton, R-Harrisburg, testified under immunity about setting up the House Democratic Campaign Committee Web site in 2004 on state time. He also described how campaign e-mails were written and sent from inside the Capitol using an offsite server in Michigan to mask their origin.

Buxton testified that in 2005 he set up his own private company, Govercom, after negotiating a deal with Manzo and director of information technologies Steve Keefer to do work for the caucus.

Keefer, of Lebanon County, is also charged in the case. Buxton told the grand jury that the contract appeared to be for legitimate government work but instead was for e-mail work for Democratic campaigns.

The House Democratic caucus paid Buxton's company $420,000 in taxpayer money between 2005 and 2007, the report states.

Businessman James Rossell was granted immunity and testified that his company, Gravity Web Media, also did campaign work with state contracts. He told Keefer and Manzo that he could do a better job than Buxton of servicing Web sites and sending blast e-mails, and later was awarded a caucus contract with terms that are not disclosed in the grand-jury report.

"The subsequent contract made no reference to the performance of any campaign work," the grand jury report states. "Rossell testified that it was very clear, from the very beginning, that his work would not be limited to the language of the contract."


pay attention to the information

Businessman James Rossell was granted immunity and testified that his company, Gravity Web Media, also did campaign work with state contracts. He told Keefer and Manzo that he could do a better job than Buxton of servicing Web sites and sending blast e-mails, and later was awarded a caucus contract with terms that are not disclosed in the grand-jury report.

Implied in the info is Buxton (Democratic Caucus aide) serviced "campaign" websites and sent blast e-mails... (using public resources). And at least for the contract awarded to James Russell/Gravity Web Media, terms of the contract are not disclosed in the grand-jury report.

At the very least, state Representative H. William DeWeese, and any other local state legislators touting open records legislation should be asked why this contract is not available to the public by way of the new open records legislation. Each should be asked why this contract or contracts remain off-limits to public disclosure now despite being the subject of a grand-jury investigation?

Also notice in the two articles the Herald-Standard publishes about Rep. DeWeese 'moving forward' and the support DeWeese retains among local district lawmakers, in DeWeese moves ahead despite scandal and Local lawmakers voice support neither article puts even one question to Rep. DeWeese about allegations made by former House Democratic Caucus staffer Eric Buxton concerning "setting up the House Democratic Campaign Committee Web site in 2004 on state time..." nor do the articles question DeWeese about what he knows of any "blast emails" or "servicing of websites" or email address listings provided to anybody in the legislative district DeWeese represents.

Isn't that simply astonishing?

Not one question about what DeWeese knew or didn't know about Eric Buxton "setting up the House Democratic Campaign Committee Web site in 2004 on state time..."

Not one question that might reveal whether DeWeese knew or didn't know of what Buxton testifies was a contract that appeared to be for legitimate government work but instead was for e-mail work for Democratic campaigns.

The House Democratic caucus paid Buxton's company $420,000 in taxpayer money between 2005 and 2007, the report states.

Not one bit of information in the article that DeWeese was asked anything about the monies from the House Democratic Caucus paid to Buxton's company or the contract/s with Buxton and/or Russell.

Not one question from our so-called reform-minded freshmen legislators, Deberah Kula and Timothy Mahoney, put to DeWeese about the Buxton contract, Russell contract, or a demand by the pair of reformers for the House Democratic Caucus to open the records despite the grand-jury withholding for whatever purposes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008
PA Bonusgate Lists Helped 2006 Winners


Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Bonusgate PA Spam Scam


Recall, not one question about Rep. DeWeese' lone among the Fayette Democratic contingency of state reps NO vote on the Josephs amendment, which occurred according to Brad Bumsted in October, 2007...

Recall, the open records bill as originally submitted by Rep. Tim Mahoney didn't apply to past records, and because DeWeese was among those voting NO on the Josephs amendment, the measure to remove language which authorized "blanket exemptions for electronic communications" was defeated in the House of Representatives. According to Pennsylvania Newspaper Association House Bill 443 would not make PA government more open and included:

broad exemptions for ‘correspondence’ and all ‘e-mail.’

It is simply beyond comprehension that the Herald-Standard would not do its own due diligence as a so-called 'political' watchdog and put questions to DeWeese about his own campaigns in 2004 and any contract between the House Democratic Caucus and Buxton and/or Russell. Likewise for 2006 the first year after the dramatic payraise 'scandal' when incumbent legislators faced nothing less than an 'angry' electorate.

Were any state Democratic campaign websites established on behalf of any state House of Representative Democratic candidates using the Buxton contract or the Russell contract?

It's not that difficult of a question to put to your own representative, let alone by a newspaper on behalf of all of the citizens the legislator or legislators represent.

DeWeese has not been shown to have been involved, but that doesn't mean he now cannot have knowledge of such contract or contracts especially since now Buxton's involvement is news. At least elsewhere, the extent of Buxton's involvement in generating taxpayer-funded blast campaign emails and political campaign websites is being questioned. Not at the Herald-Standard.

At the least since the Russell contract appears to remain closed to the public per the Attorney General report and grand-jury findings, DeWeese and all House Democrat area legislators who supported open records should be asked, no, it should be demanded of them - open the record of the contract or contracts noted to the public before the 2008 General Election.

Nor as we noted, does the newspaper to-date question whether any of our local state legislators, especially newcomers Deberah Kula and Timothy Mahoney were the recipients of any Democratic caucus gained or garnered email address listings to enable use of in the Primary and/or General elections of 2006.

The question should be asked specifically of Kula, Mahoney, and DeWeese who should know of the email listings and spam or blast emails by now: are the materials obtained by the House Democratic Caucus open records under the legislation you all supported?

In other words, where are the email address listings acquired by the Democratic caucus DeWeese led (in part,) and why aren't these available to the citizens of Pennsylvania under the Freedom of Information Act and open records legislation much touted by DeWeese, Kula, Mahoney, (Daley), and the Herald-Standard?

In the article DeWeese moves ahead despite scandal By Rebekah Sungala, Herald-Standard 08/15/2008such legislation is noted by Rep. DeWeese as potentially preventing the "secrecy" of "bonusgate" had the open records legislation been in place during the bonus-gate episode/s.

This from the same guy who of all the local House Democratic contingency of state representatives voted NO on the Babette Josephs amendment to the 'open records' legislation originally submitted by Rep. Mahoney. That amendment would have removed language inserted into House Bill 443 which enabled "blanket exemptions for electronic communications."

A yes vote authorized the removal of the language. Mahoney, Kula, and Daley voted Yes. A No vote would deny removal of the language. DeWeese voted No. The measure was defeated according to Brad Bumstead's Shh! More State Secrets.

Coming in October 2007 as the vote did, one must question how DeWeese could be in actuality in support of open records when this blanket exemptions for electronic communications clause applied and the same bill (HB 443) also did not apply to past records.

It took Senate Bill 1 to remove the blanket exemptions for electronic communications and apply the legislation retroactively. The House then simply acquiesced to the Senate Bill sponsored by Pileggi because Democratic House legislators couldn't very well argue to keep the "blanket exemptions for electronic communications" nor could they argue to exempt past records.

Again, not one question to DeWeese about his recorded NO on an aspect of open records legislation - legislative electronic communications - that could be said to be at the "heart" of the subsequent "bonusgate" investigation carried out by Attorney General Tom Corbett.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008
PA House Leader DeWeese No Questions on Open Records Email Blanket Exemptions


DeWeese voted No while Mahoney, Kula and Daley voted yes.

Bumstead's Shh! More State Secrets November 11, 2007 Yes vote would have removed "blanket exemptions for legislative emails."


Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Will DeWeese Face Electoral Defeat for Wrong Understanding?


Net the Truth Online

Note 1: Appearing in the 7-Day archives of the Herald-Standard are the following articles: Local lawmakers voice support DeWeese By Jennifer Harr, Herald-Standard 08/18/2008 Updated 08/19/2008 12:06:06 AM EDT

DeWeese moves ahead despite scandal By Rebekah Sungala, Herald-Standard 08/15/2008

Aside from our questioning the what is not in the content of both articles, notice the name of the CHECKING SERVICE at the side of the page which appears on both seemingly "positive" articles:


Isn't that hilarious? Is that a subliminal message?

Net the Truth Online

Note 2: The Pittsburgh Tribune Review Whispers column (interestingly) questions in a cleverly-worded way whether state Rep. Timothy Mahoney (D-51st) did indeed string along the voters of the 51st District by the way, just two years back during the 2006 Primary and General election campaigns for the vacated seat of former state Rep. Larry Roberts. Roberts retired prior to the 2006 Primary election.

The (anonymously-penned) Whispers column reveals a portion of statements Mahoney made about how he himself would not be a "puppet on a string" in Harrisburg for a "disgraced" H. William DeWeese "one of the ringleaders of the 2005 pay-jacking" in its piece entitled "Dummy Up":

DUMMY UP. Did Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Uniontown, string along the voters?

During his 2006 campaign, Mahoney usually bashed House Minority Leader H. William DeWeese, D-Waynesburg, one of the ringleaders of the 2005 pay-jacking.

Mahoney had told voters he would not be a "puppet on a string" for the disgraced DeWeese. He also said he wouldn't back DeWeese for a leadership position in the Legislature.

We guess Mahoney never said anything about accepting money from DeWeese. Since 2007, campaign finance records show Mahoney has received $8,000 in campaign contributions from DeWeese.

Mahoney's predecessor in the 51st District, Larry Roberts, D-South Union, said he doesn't remember ever receiving contributions from the Greene County puppet master.


Related some amount of monies are included in this report


Note 3: From Brad Bumstead's Bonus bonanza: Hokum that has returned to haunt

Keep in mind that just because a caucus gave out bonuses doesn't mean it engaged in illegal activity. And just because someone got a bonus doesn't mean he or she did anything wrong. Bonuses are legal. Giving them for political work isn't.

DeWeese obviously knew about the bonuses but he was not aware of bonuses being paid for campaign work in recent years, Williams said.


While it's ok to point out a bonus received doesn't mean political work was done by the recipient on government time and money, and the bonus program itself was legal, the fact that "contracts" were reportedly entered into by the House Democratic caucus should be more fully investigated by any and all so-called journalists and newspapers purporting to be working on behalf of the public's right to know.

The public has a right to know, now, not later, all and everything, and there should be no acceptance of the excuse an investigation is underway, a criminal investigation.

Where are the real journalists, those who dig and keep on digging, despite what public officials or Attorney Generals tell them is public or isn't public at this time or any time?

Investigate, or become extinct and replaced by the new media. Otherwise, not noting the bonusgate spam or blast emails and websites (contracted) by a House Democratic Caucus, Bumstead's piece is par excellence.

Net the Truth Online

Note 4: Meanwhile, note the Herald-Standard's couple of articles do not question similarly as the Tribune-Review Whispers "Dummy Up" column does.

We remain unsure as everyone else just how far bonus-gate extends.

But at least our local newspaper should apprise us us what is now known.

It should question whether any state representatives, especially locally, may have been in receipt of Buxton or businessman James Rossell provided email address listings and any generated "blast e-mails" to help local 2006 political campaigns for state office or any and all campaign websites created potentially created using taxpayer funding and resources.

Yet not one question coming from those quarters. Not even one.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 PA Bonusgate Lists Helped 2006 Winners

They are more than failing us there.

Note 5: House Democratic Majority material is inaccurate regarding similarity of the House version of open records to the Senate Bill 1 open records bill presented by Sen. Pileggi.

House Democratic Majority is proud of the following accomplishments that were achieved in 2007. With 116 bills signed into law and 261 bills passed by the House, great strides were made on behalf of all Pennsylvanians. Below are highlights.

A new day in Pennsylvania
The right to know

S.B. 1, awaiting Senate action

The legislation, very similar to the bill authored by Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Fayette, would improve the state's Right-to-Know Law by, among other things, establishing a presumption of openness, including the legislature in the law, applying financial accountability to all three branches of government, and creating a uniform appeals process for the public.


the statement is not wholly accurate. The Senate Bill 1 which was ultimately passed in the Senate firstly removed language in the House version of open records which contained the "blanket exemptions for legislative electronic communications." The House version of open records was the one originally presented by state Rep. Timothy Mahoney. The bill was entered in March 2007 with co-sponsorship of H. William DeWeese coming a month later, in April, 2007. It did entertain amendments to it which Rep. Mahoney himself admitted at one point were welcome by him since he was well aware of the exemptions he had included. Rep. Tim Mahoney's bill was tagged the "Corruption Protection Act" by Democracy Rising PA founder Tim Potts sometime in October, 2007. Only a direct question put to Potts would reveal whether Potts tagged the Mahoney bill the Corruption Protection Act as such due to its as Potts claimed two-dozen exemptions which were in the bill before the state government committee took action. Only a direct question to Potts would reveal whether Potts tagged the bill the Corruption Protect Act as such when the state government committee expanded the exemptions for the emails to "blanket exemptions for legislative electronic communications."

Secondly, there was non-existent similarity in the House version of open records upon its entrance in the record as presented in March 2007 and what the Senate received from the House prior to Nov. 2007. The original legislation submitted by state Rep. Timothy Mahoney did not apply to "past records" and even after House state government committee action, the open records legislation HB 443 still did not apply to past records.

so, the House version never applied the legislation to past records. There is no similarity to the Senate Bill 1 entered by Senator Pileggi because that bill did apply retroactively and to past records.

Now who is in control of what goes on the House Democratic Majority 2007 Accomplishmentspage?

Note 6: Don't forget there have been no questions about votes on raising the state's "debt ceiling," either.

Saturday, July 19, 2008
PA: Raise Debt Ceiling Soccer Stadium Give Tax-Forgiveness for Some


Net the Truth Online

Local lawmakers voice support DeWeese
By Jennifer Harr, Herald-Standard
Updated 08/19/2008 12:06:06 AM EDT

While some state legislators would like to see state House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese step down or abandon his re-election campaign, his local Democratic colleagues are standing behind him.

Reps. Peter J. Daley, Deberah Kula and Tim Mahoney all said they feel calls for his resignation are unwarranted...


DeWeese moves ahead despite scandal
By Rebekah Sungala, Herald-Standard

State Rep. Bill DeWeese said he is moving forward despite an unfolding political scandal in Harrisburg. The Democratic House majority leader met with the Herald-Standard editorial board Thursday to discuss the ongoing Bonusgate scandal and talk about his plans for the future.

DeWeese, D-Waynesburg, brushed off attacks from fellow House Democrats who have called on the 12-year leader of the Democratic caucus to step down following an investigation by the state attorney general's office.

In July, Attorney General Tom Corbett announced charges were filed against 12 people connected to the House Democratic caucus. The grand jury that reviewed the evidence accused the defendants of illegally diverting millions in taxpayer dollars to underwrite political campaigns and personal perks.

Among those charged was DeWeese's former chief of staff, Michael Manzo.

DeWeese, who was not charged following 16 months of investigation, said he "wasn't aware" of the alleged actions of his employees and said he regrets not supporting open records legislation sooner, saying the situation would not have occurred if the legislation had been in place to prevent the secrecy.

DeWeese said he can't justify Bonusgate, but said the Democratic Caucus took immediate action after being appraised of the situation.

According to DeWeese, the staff members accused of diverting money were terminated months before being indicted by the grand jury.

"I can't justify what they did allegedly, and I'm not happy about it. I'm sorry it happened on my watch," he said.

DeWeese said people will see that the Democratic Caucus handled Bonusgate effectively once the dust settles, noting that staff members were instructed to cooperate 100 percent with the attorney general's office during the investigation.

"Staff members were told to destroy nothing, save everything and cooperate," DeWeese said.

DeWeese said he was disappointed and surprised by attacks from his fellow Democrats following Bonusgate, and said he believes the attacks were politically motivated.

"They're political people, and I do not hold it against them," he said.

State Rep. Josh Shapiro, who holds the largely ceremonial title of deputy speaker, was the latest Democrat to call for DeWeese to step down...



Pennsltucky Blog



Shed no tears for DeWeese
Updated 08/20/2008 12:12:23 AM EDT
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At a time that it would be easy to tar the entire Pennsylvania General Assembly with the label of corruption, there is a glimmer of hope.

Several honorable House Democrats (Reps. Shapiro, Levdansky, Readshaw, Keller, Yudichak and Matt Smith) have exhibited the courage and character to publicly call for long-time party "leader" H. William DeWeese to either step down from his leadership post or to resign.

Rep. DeWeese is reminiscent of the character Captain Renault in the movie "Casablanca," who was shocked, shocked to learn that gambling was occurring in a speakeasy. He claims no knowledge that right under his nose, highly compensated legislative aides were receiving fat bonuses which it is alleged were additional compensation for performing political work on state time.

He also claims that he knows nothing about a letter which went out under his signature, directing the dozens of recipients of the booty not to tell anyone of their good fortune. Let us recall at this time other actions with which DeWeese is "credited": being a primary architect of the sneaky, slimy, middle-of-the-night July 2005 legislative pay raise, punishing members who did not vote in the manner in which they were instructed by stripping them of their committee posts, and a long history of standing in the way of every meaningful reform demanded by an informed electorate.


Time for DeWeese to go
Updated 08/20/2008 11:04:23 PM EDT
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I think the term "Leadership Fund," referring to state Rep. Bill DeWeese's pot of taxpayer money, needs a new name. Perhaps we should call it the "Lack of Leadership Fund," or the "My Campaign Enrichment Fund," or the "Keep Me In Office No Matter How Many Illegal Bonuses I Oversee Fund," or several other titles.

It is long past the time for DeWeese to go. I believe he should not only be relieved of his Democratic leader position, but be banished from the Legislature and be incarcerated. We have the opportunity in November to accomplish the first two; hopefully, the state attorney general will pursue the third.

The only thing he leads in - in my opinion - is in misappropriating funds, deceiving the public and filling his own pockets. Jane Sheehan


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