Monday, April 13, 2009

PA: Emails Central to Bonusgate: DeWeese in-House Investigation Work Product

At least from some quarters, PA state Rep. H. William DeWeese is facing scrutiny by some editorial and/or opinion column writers.

Sadly, it is appearing more and more as if the media just wants to be the primary go-between for what should be a matter of public record, by now, if not before now.

Update Jan. 23, 2010

DeWeese refuses to rule out campaign for re-election
January 22, 2010 01:45 AM TEXT SIZE By: AMY REVAK

...Stilp, of Taxpayers and Ratepayers United, and Dennis Baylor of the Pennsylvania Accountability Project, stood in front of DeWeese's office beside the pig balloon and spoke to reporters and photographers while holding a sign that said, "DeWeese, Time to Retire." DeWeese, 59, has served as representative to the 50th District in the state Legislature since 1976. Stilp said two years ago, he visited the same office to hand out "citizen" indictments and since that time DeWeese was given a real indictment. DeWeese was charged in December with theft for allegedly using state employees to do campaign work, nearly three years after the investigation by Attorney General Tom Corbett into corruption in government began. "We are here to tell him to retire. It's time for him to retire," Stilp said. When contacted later, DeWeese said that in the American legal system, a person is presumed innocent until the judicial process has been completed. DeWeese said former state Rep. Sean Ramalay faced six charges and was acquitted. DeWeese said he anticipates that between $5 million and $7 million in small grants will be making its way to his district in the upcoming months as a result of last year's budget. DeWeese said he is the only legislator in the state to bring 2,200 jobs to their legislative district in one career under three governors of both political parties. Two state prisons are in the district and plans are underway to construct a third. "After 34 years of steadfast focus on attending thousands of events at Eagle Scout ceremonies, fire halls and high school football games, and devoting my entire adulthood to the military and representing the 50th District, and arguably enhancing my rural district with 2,200 new state jobs and tens and tens of millions of dollars of water and sewer lines as well as countless construction projects in my townships, boroughs and school district, I feel I have a solid record of public service." Stilp said taxpayers do not know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds have been used for legal fees because the information is not available to the public. He said because DeWeese has been charged, he is now responsible for his own legal expenses. While Stilp said he is urging DeWeese not to run this year, he said if he does, the state still would have its "poster boy for the worst example of corruption in Harrisburg." Baylor said it is time for DeWeese to step down, and not just because of the "shadow of indictments," but because he is becoming more embarrassing day by day. Baylor cited stories that came out of grand jury testimony that claimed DeWeese can't use a automated teller machine and that he had someone purchase condoms for him. "He has lost all effectiveness and credibility," Baylor said. Employees in DeWeese's Waynesburg office declined to comment about Stilp, Baylor or the inflatable pig. DeWeese had harsh words for Stilp. "Mr. Stilp is a disgruntled former employee of the Democratic caucus. We had to let him go several years ago, and I believe he's obsessed with destroying my career...

Update: DeWeese Responds to Bumstead commentary

DeWeese: Let courts decide
Buzz up!Sunday, April 19, 2009 analyzes:

Monday, April 20, 2009
A Translation for the DeWeese-Impaired

Site coverage elsewhere

Monday, April 13, 2009

In an Tue, Apr. 7, 2009 Editorial: Burden of suspicion, the Philadelphia Inquirer editor raised the issue of a potential for state Rep. H. William DeWeese to have had knowledge of what was going on under his nose.

On Easter Sunday, Mr. Bumstead of the Tribune-Review casts the single question in the form of a headline.

Did DeWeese Know?

What's most interesting?

Look how the editorialists portray what can only be viewed as the in-House investigation work product of an elected public official, H. William DeWeese for the House Democrat caucus, and using the services of consultant Chadwick and Associates.

documents in a wide-ranging criminal probe


the criminal-probe documents

From the pen of Bumstead, this one liner:

DeWeese, using former state Inspector General Bill Chadwick as a paid consultant, turned over information to Attorney General Tom Corbett in 2007.

What a way to put the long-ago revealed (December 2007) (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) Rep. DeWeese-initiated internal in-House investigation of staff and legislative email communications and spreadsheets.


And this paragraph from Bumstead:

Among 25,000 e-mails that Corbett provided to defendants through the discovery process, numerous e-mails have emerged that cast serious doubt on DeWeese's claim that he knew nothing about the bonus scheme. Brett Cott, a former Veon aide charged in the scheme, provided the e-mails.

The fact is this:

Before Attorney General Tom Corbett announced the beginning of his investigation publicly, it was Rep. DeWeese who got personal wind of media inquisitiveness, yes, mere media inquiry, about potential for staffers doing political campaign work amongst legislative duties and DeWeese then at that time of such rumors initiated an internal in-House investigation of the again then-rumored alleged payments to state staffers in exchange for political campaign work.

The public didn't learn of the in-House investigation itself until December, 2007, and the Post-Gazette article references the internal in-House investigation as having begun in March.

E-mails show how Dems tied staffers' bonuses to campaign work Sunday, December 16, 2007
By Dennis B. Roddy and Tracie Mauriello, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

so tracking back...we have...

Post-Gazette timeline
An "internal" "in-house" "investigation" conducted by Chadwick Associates at the behest of DeWeese as revealed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. An internal, in-house investigation begun, according to the article, in March, (2007) (as the article is written Dec. 16, 2007)

We supply some material showing it was the media inquiry, (timeline included in the piece and other referenced pieces), not notification of a criminal probe that prompted H. William DeWeese to begin an internal in-House investigation.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Will DeWeese Face Electoral Defeat for Wrong Understanding? (Net the Truth Online)

clip of Post-Gazette article

E-mails show how Dems tied staffers' bonuses to campaign work
Sunday, December 16, 2007
By Dennis B. Roddy and Tracie Mauriello, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
HARRISBURG -- E-mail messages exchanged by top aides in the Democratic caucus starting in 2004 make clear that taxpayer-funded bonuses were given to legislative employees for their work on election campaigns.

The messages, obtained by the Post-Gazette, are a key component in an investigation by Attorney General Tom Corbett into the bonuses and whether they constituted an illegal use of state money for political work...

...DeWeese investigation
Most of the e-mails and spreadsheets were first uncovered by House Majority Leader H. William DeWeese, of Waynesburg, who had delegated much of the day-to-day operation of the caucus to Mr. Veon. Mr. DeWeese, after accumulating information from state computers, provided thousands of e-mail exchanges, which are now at the core of the state attorney general's case.

None of the materials obtained by the Post-Gazette suggests that Mr. DeWeese was aware of the scheme. Mr. Veon did not respond to a message seeking comment.

After initially being told by staff that the bonuses were routine seniority and holiday awards, Mr. DeWeese said he discovered that the bonuses amounted to $1.9 million. He then ordered an internal inquiry, calling in William Chadwick, a former prosecutor, in March, prior to the announcement of a criminal probe by the attorney general.

Mr. Chadwick's in-house probe resulted in the accumulation of tens of thousands of e-mails that had been automatically archived but which most employees thought had been deleted long ago.

In all, 31,000 archived e-mails thought to have been deleted were later recovered.

The inquiry also found that virtually every e-mail regarding pay bonuses sent on the caucus computer system in 2006 had been erased, as had all record of Mr. Veon's e-mails. What investigators later uncovered were e-mails from 2004 and 2005 that included an outline of the scheme that suggested it had been ongoing for several years.

The Post-Gazette obtained copies of some 2006 e-mails -- most of them sent by Stephen Keefer, director of the Democratic House Information Technologies department which oversaw the computer system used by caucus members. They reflect the level of political activity apparently taking place inside the Capitol offices, a place where partisan campaigning is legally forbidden.

They begin with a Feb. 27 dispatch to information technologies employees pressing them to work for Mr. Veon's primary campaign. In subsequent e-mails, Mr. Keefer speaks of "locking myself in the office today" to focus on Veon duties, and one week before the primaries assures colleagues who can't reach him, "sorry folks, only one more week." Mr. Veon's political committee, in fact, sent blast e-mails into the caucus accounts pressing for volunteers to come forward and work on his campaign.

The deletion of the 2006 e-mails and attempted destruction of documents in the Democratic Office of Legislative Research are among matters under investigation by the attorney general.

While the e-mails focus entirely on what appears to be a Democratic caucus practice of using state funds to pay volunteers for political work, Mr. Corbett's office is also investigating complaints of similar activities in the Republican caucus.

On Nov. 13 Mr. DeWeese forced out seven top House Democratic aides, including his chief of staff, Michael Manzo. He acted after receiving information from Mr. Chadwick, the Washington attorney and security consultant he had hired months earlier...

so when we see an opinion piece that references "information" and "25,000 emails" we have to pose, why hasn't the writer - Mr. Bumstead - noted that information and those "25,000 emails" came directly from the in-House internal investigation initiated by H. William DeWeese and carried out by House Democrat caucus-hired Chadwick and Associates?

Reportedly, DeWeese/Chadwick turned over all to AG Tom Corbett. For the criminal investigation.

But that didn't become public until after March 2007. The earliest we can determine as we've posted in previous posts was possibly October 2007.

Before then, in fact. Rep. DeWeese had already let-go 7 of his staffers, including Mike Manzo, his legislative Chief-of-Staff.

The DeWeese/Chadwick internal in-House investigation reportedly turned up thousands upon thousands of email communications and thousands had been deleted.

Yet we are to believe upon the word of the initiator of the internal investigation and the consultant who conducted the in-House investigation that all "emails" and "spreadsheets" had been recovered and all turned over to the Attorney General.

In turn, AG Corbett turns over those same emails obtained and/or retrieved from DwWeese/Chadwick's internal in-House investigation back in March 2007 and central sometime in October, 2007 to Corbett's criminal case to the defense for indicted individuals.

These emails, selected ones, no doubt, are leaked to the news media.

We have got to ask:

Why do we the people of Pennsylvania need the Press as a go-between to release any of the emails?

Emails which were the work product in the very beginning of state Rep. H. William DeWeese's internal in-House investigation begun because the media began asking its own questions about salaries and payments and bonuses to state legislative staff members?

As it now stands, the public only has some leaks to newspapers and not the entirety of what by now should be public material.

Why shouldn't the open records act apply to all of these emails, especially now, if the AG has copies of all, is using them or has used them in his investigation, and has already made about all the Democrat indictments he sees fit? Or even if he hasn't, the emails were the work-product of state Rep. DeWeese's internal in-House investigation, at a time before Tom Corbett began the state investigation or criminal probe into the potential for "illegalities..."

The emails should be in the public domain right now so the public can assess all that it should know

for themselves.

Net the Truth Online

Did DeWeese know?
Sunday, April 12, 2009

House Majority Whip Bill DeWeese was re-elected last fall repeatedly reassuring his constituents that he didn't know about the payment of taxpayer-funded bonuses to legislative staffers who did political work.

He pointed the finger at his one-time Democrat leadership partner, former Rep. Mike Veon, of Beaver Falls, and DeWeese's former chief of staff, Mike Manzo. In July, Veon and Manzo were among 12 former House Democrats charged with felonies in the bonus scandal. DeWeese, who was majority leader for the 2006-2007 session, has not been charged.

It's difficult to believe that DeWeese didn't know what was going on. Whether DeWeese specifically took part in directing the scheme is another question.

DeWeese, of Greene County, portrays the bonus scandal as being perpetrated by staffers run amok. These employees all were under his chain of command.

DeWeese, using former state Inspector General Bill Chadwick as a paid consultant, turned over information to Attorney General Tom Corbett in 2007. It's presumed by some that he threw the former staffers under the bus in an attempt to save himself. Many Democrats are wondering who else DeWeese fingered.

Last November, Manzo, who has agreed to plead guilty, testified in open court that he believed DeWeese knew about the bonuses for campaign work.

Manzo spent several long hours testifying before the grand jury.

Will DeWeese be charged?

Among 25,000 e-mails that Corbett provided to defendants through the discovery process, numerous e-mails have emerged that cast serious doubt on DeWeese's claim that he knew nothing about the bonus scheme. Brett Cott, a former Veon aide charged in the scheme, provided the e-mails.

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