Saturday, November 14, 2009

PA: Attorney General Tom Corbett Conflict Interest?

Highly interesting report. What comes to our mind, will Corbett's charges against John Perzel and company be challenged as a "stretch" because Corbett is making a run for Governor and needs the appearance of at least attempting to investigate the Republicans and Perzel in particular?

We wonder why isn't the news item "Corbett guv run tainted by conflict of interest charges?" entitled "Corbett investigation/indictment of Republican lawmaker and staffer/fundraiser conflict of interest?"

November 12, 2009

Attorney General Corbett announces criminal charges in second phase of legislative investigation; 10 suspects charged

The BlueCard program was a two piece system; the first piece included sending campaign employees to every door in Perzel's district to fill out the information on the BlueCard, while the second part was the creation of a database.

Perzel's idea was not simply to keep the BlueCards in a file drawer for manual reference during campaigns, but to align all the information on the cards with technology to make it more easily accessible and deployable for campaign purposes.

Perzel put Samual "Buzz" Stokes, his brother-in-law and campaign manager, in charge of the BlueCard program. The grand jury found that despite the control of the BlueCard program by the campaign, little or no Perzel campaign funds or resources ended up being used in the creation and development of the BlueCard program. The BlueCard effort was achieved at the expense of the Pennsylvania taxpayers.

The grand jury found that the RIT staff spent countless hours working on programs to make the BlueCard system more efficient. The grand jury found that Perzel and his campaign personnel became frustrated that the improvements the RIT staff were making did not meet their standards. To help solve this problem Perzel hired his wife's nephew, Eric Ruth, to be the Deputy Director of RIT. Ruth spent most of his time ensuring that Perzel's BlueCard program took priority over everything else the staff did.

The grand jury found that in January of 2002, despite the efforts of RIT, the responsibility of the BlueCard program was shifted to a private vendor, GCR & Associates in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The grand jury found that Perzel abhorred chance and uncertainty and, as a result, aggressively sought to build redundancy and safety nets into projects he viewed as essential to his success.

The grand jury found that Perzel's campaign staff wielded a tremendous amount of power and authority within the Capitol and that their requests took priority even over Republican Representatives and their staffs.

In 2003, the grand jury found that another vendor, Aristotle International Inc. from Washington DC, had been retained by the caucus and was heavily involved in improving and modifying the BlueCard program at taxpayers' expense. Aristotle's work modernized the program and made it faster and more user friendly. The grand jury found that Aristotle spent more than $80,000 on the BlueCard program.

The grand jury found that with the success of the BlueCard program in his own district in 2002, Perzel directed the RIT staff to create the BlueCard system for numerous other House districts in the 2004 election cycle. It was also created for a state senate district and congressional district. The grand jury found that this was part of Perzel's effort to expand his campaign influence all across the state.

In 2005, the BlueCard program was used in a special election in the 131st legislative district. Additionally in 2005, Perzel established the BlueCard system citywide in Philadelphia.

Telstar/Election Day Complete
As part of his effort to ensure his re-election, the grand jury found that Perzel directed the development of a sophisticated computer system to ensure that his supporters went to the polls on election day.

The traditional way in which candidates accomplished this was having the campaign check off the names of voters at the polling places as they came in to vote and then taking the list back to campaign headquarters. They would then call or drive to the homes of the people that did not vote. Perzel wanted to use technology to make this system much more efficient and employed the staff of the RIT help to accomplish this.

Perzel's idea was to use handheld computers which had each of the registered voters in the precinct or division in Philadelphia loaded onto it. The campaign workers at the polling places would simply click a name on the handheld computer and have that information electronically transmitted to a common database. Perzel believed that this was a way that he could maximize limited resources on Election Day.

The original handheld computer idea was called Telstar, however the grand jury found that as the program became much bigger, more complicated and interconnected to many other technological endeavors, over time it became known as Election Day Complete. The key to making this program work was the purchase of handheld computers, which were completely paid for by the Republican Caucus.

The first-full scale deployment of the Telstar/Election Day Complete system took place in the April 2002 special election in Monroe County. Telstar was viewed as largely successful in this election.


Posted on Thu, Nov. 12, 2009

Corbett guv run tainted by conflict of interest charges?
Philadelphia Daily News 215-854-5973

State Attorney General Tom Corbett, now running for governor, met with state Rep. John Perzel, of Philadelphia, at a Harrisburg hotel in October 2007.

Two months later, Brian Preski, Perzel's former chief of staff, organized a campaign fundraiser for Corbett.

In state politics, nothing about either event would seem strange. A high-profile elected official is expected to meet with members of his political party while seeking the state's highest office.

But Corbett's office at the time was actively investigating Perzel and Preski and others in the state General Assembly in what is now a 21-month probe known as "Bonusgate."

Corbett charged 12 Democratic legislators and staffers in July 2008 with theft, criminal conspiracy and conflict of interest. Indictments against Republicans could come as soon as today.

Corbett is taking shots from both Republicans and Democrats for campaigning while serving as the state's top prosecutor in a massive political-corruption case.

U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, a rival in the May 2010 Republican primary election, has hammered Corbett for "seeking political support of GOP legislators, party leaders and key contributors" while leading the investigation.

"I think the perception has been out there for quite a while that Tom Corbett has a conflict of interest that needed to be resolved," Gerlach's campaign manager, Scott Migli, said this week...

...Investigators are also examining whether a state-funded database used to track voter-registration information was improperly used by House Republicans like Perzel for political purposes.

Preski and his attorney declined to comment about the Corbett fundraiser or the ongoing investigation...

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