It’s the top story in Pennsylvania. Twelve Democrat state leaders facing corruption charges in a massive scandal dubbed “Bonusgate.” If it were twelve Republican state leaders, I guarantee you would have heard all about it by now. Via the Philly Daily News:
A SORDID TANGLE of corruption, cash and sex rocked the Statehouse yesterday in a political scandal that left one current and one former legislator and 10 current and former staff members facing criminal charges.
Among the accusations leveled by two state grand juries: Former top legislative staffer Mike Manzo got his lover, a twenty-something former rural beauty queen, a $29,000 job and $7,000 bonus mostly for doing her schoolwork.
State Attorney General Tom Corbett announced the charges against the 12, all Democrats, in a news conference in Harrisburg.
“It’s a very sad day in Pennsylvania,” Corbett said.
The long-running investigation began with a Harrisburg Patriot-News story about secret bonuses to legislative employees. The 12 are accused of using public funds to finance political activities, a vacation, meals for friends and Manzo’s no-show job for his girlfriend.
The charges could harm Democrats in legislative battles this fall, and some have accused Republican Corbett of a partisan focus in the investigation.
Corbett said yesterday he’ll probe Republicans and Democrats and that he had focused first on House Democrats because investigators discovered they were beginning to destroy documents relevant to the case.
“We are investigating all four caucuses of the general assembly,” Corbett said.
Among the accusations in the grand-jury reports:
* In 2005, Manzo, then chief of staff to House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, gave a $21,000-a-year state job with virtually no duties to Angela Bertugli, a young woman he’d had a sexual relationship with since the previous summer.
The following year she made $29,000 plus a $7,000 bonus, even though other staffers never saw her and she had no discernible responsibilities.
Manzo’s wife, Rachel, another former legislative staffer, also is charged with steering public money to political activities.
* Former House whip Mike Veon and Manzo directed more than $1 million in taxpayer-funded bonuses to legislative employees for working on political campaigns, often on state time.