Tom’s Top Twelve Tall Tales: Tale #4

Posted by By at 18 April, at 07 : 56 AM Print

Governor Tom tells tall tales. Here is Here is Tom’s Top Twelve Tall Tale Number Four – Hey, at least I was a great Attorney General.

Let’s examine the evidence, Mr. Attorney General.

It took the Feds to nail Fumo.

Attorney General Corbett also seems to have missed the Orie sisters, Republican State Senator Jane and her sister Janine. They are standing trial on charges they directed state paid staffers to illegally do campaign work for third sister Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. Attorney General Corbett was asleep at the switch for the Orie sisters. It took Allegheny District attorney Stephen A. Zappalla to bring the Ories to justice.

Of course Attorney General Corbett did go after the Democratic guy for the same thing and said he would do the same thing to legislators of his own party. However, he waited to bring charges to his own party members until just before nomination time. The achieved two purposes, 1) it kept potential Republican gubernatorial rivals from challenging him in the primary and 2) gave him tremendous leverage over the Republican party apparatus. Since almost every politician had some degree of culpability, anyone could be indicted. No pol knew who would be next. And, if any pol crossed him, she or he, to use a phrase from the Nixon era, would be left “to twist slowly, slowly in the wind.”

Attorney General Corbett also missed President Luzerne County Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, who plead guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2,600,000 in kickback to two privately run for-profit juvenile jails. They had been doing this for years. Did Attorney General Corbett know anything about that? Nope, still asleep.  It was the feds again, this time Assistant United States Attorney Gordon A. Zubrod.  Hey, here’s some more interesting stuff, the for-profit juvenile jail contracts were awarded on no-bid contracts! Guess who is a co-owner of the aforementioned for-profit juvenile jail? It’s Gregory Zapalla, brother of District Attorney Stephen A. Zappalla who brought the Ories to justice. Gregory Zapalla was not indicted in the for-profit  juvenile jails scheme, but for-profit juvenile jail co-owner Robert Powell was. Any conflicts of interest here? Zzzzz.

Are for-profit, no-bid prisons for juveniles placed there by crooked judges receiving kickbacks too difficult to think about? Then, let us think of Hershey, the sweetest place on earth. Hershey is sweet all right, if you have close connections to Republican politicians, sit on the board of M.S. Hershey Schools, and oversee the $7,500,000,000.00 endowment fund left by the late Mr. Hershey to educate impoverished children.  The board is led by its chair, LeRoy S. Zimmerman, former Pennsylvania attorney general, prominent Republican Party stalwart, longtime friend and close political ally of, you guessed it, Gov. Corbett!

In 2006, the M.S. Hershey Schools board authorized the purchase of the money losing Wren Dale golf course golf course for $12,000,000, about twice its appraised worth. After acquiring the golf course which adjoined the Hershey Schools campus, the board spent an additional $5,000,000 to construct a Scottish-style clubhouse, restaurant, and bar with funds intended to educate impoverished children.  The investment bailed out 40 to 50 investors in the golf course, some with ties to the school, including one of the school’s board members, Richard H. Lenny, at that time also chair of the Hershey Chocolate Company.

Guess whose office investigated former attorney general and chair of the board LeRoy Zimmerman? Guess who refused to recuse himself from the investigation? Guess what they found?

But wait, there’s more! Governor Corbett’s choice as our next attorney general is none other than Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed! And since Gov. Corbett “tipped his hand,” all of the other Republican candidates have dropped out of the race, including Washington County DA Steve Topriani, who had been considering a run, but now is “enthusiastically supporting Freed.”  So has state Senator John Rafferty of Montgomery County who had also considered a run. The first thing out of candidate Freed’s mouth was self- congratulation as being a DA who is “tough on crime.”  The second thing out of his mouth would he would fight the implementation of the federal  affordable health care act, an obvious crime against humanity. The third thing out of his mouth that as attorney general, he wouldn’t oversee the possible probe of the Hershey charities scandal. Oh, did I neglect to mention Freed’s father-in-law is LeRoy Zimmerman?  Just a coincidence, I guess.

In 2005, a civil suit was brought against York County District Attorney Stan Rebert that made some very damaging claims regarding Rebert’s management of his office. Under pressure to call for an independent investigation of his office, Rebert had several options on whom to choose to conduct the investigation: the Pennsylvania State Police, the York Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission, or his close political ally, Attorney General Tom Corbett. Not surprisingly, Rebert chose his Republican buddy, Tom Corbett. Both men have endorsed and supported one another over the years in their campaigns. Nearly a year later, Corbett’s office issued a letter exonerating Rebert stating, “The Office of the Attorney General has concluded that no criminal charges will result from Ms. Downing’s allegations.” So much for independent investigation.

Then there is the August 2008 “whistleblower” law suit filed in U.S. Middle District federal court against state Attorney General Tom Corbett by former Deputy Attorney General Thomas D. Kimmet. He accused Attorney General Corbett and his lieutenants, of collecting delinquent taxes by using a no-bid, for-profit company who could keep 40% of all the taxes collected. No-bid means no other for-profit company was allowed to bid for this work and 40% is a lot of profit.  Three months after Mr. Kimmet questioned the practice; his state employment was terminated, a career consisting of ten years in the state Department of Revenue and almost two years in the Office of the Attorney General.  The case is still in courts, but what makes the debacle even sleazier than the no-bid contracts with 40% profits, is Attorney General Corbett’s six hour deposition. As AG, Corbett has always made it clear that a top-down, military style chain-of-command was the only way to manage the AG offices which are, after all, the Commonwealth’s chief law enforcement office.  However, during the six hour deposition, Commander-in-chief Corbett stated “I do not recall” or “I have no recollection” to more than 35 questions put to him by Thomas Kimmet’s attorney. You can view an edited video of the deposition at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rffscCb4sng

Ahh, but AG Corbett was right there at the Jerry Sandusky scandal, wasn’t he? Yup, Attorney General Corbett was right there -  taking $25,000 in campaign contributions from Sandusky’s Second Mile Foundation while he was investigating the whole sordid mess with a total of one state trooper. One. That number did not change until after Corbett had left the attorney general office. In early 2011, Pennsylvania Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, not Corbett, assigned 7 more investigators to the case.

Attorney General Corbett was also right there – accepting thousands of dollars more from the regional board members of Second Mile foundation.

Attorney general Corbett was also right there in January of 2010 at the home of S&A Homes president and CEO and Second Mile board chair Robert Pool to hold a fund raiser for Corbett’s gubernatorial bid.  Oh, and that kindness was rewarded by now Governor Corbett’s staff that approved a $3,000,000 grant to Second Mile. Gov. Corbett knew about the grant and waved it on through.

And the children who were allegedly raped? Well, Sandusky was allowed to remain at large for nearly three years while the grand jury investigated.  Three years. Kathleen Kane is running for Attorney General of Pennsylvania and specializes in sexual abuse. According to Ms. Kane, any case where authorities know of an alleged sexual predator believed to have committed a crime, the first obligation is to make an arrest. The risk of Sandusky committing another act against a minor child was too great to wait three years for the report.  She has my vote.

Though it is not even in the same league as the Sandusky crimes, even Gov. Corbett’s handling of the Pennsylvania puppy mills is, at best, questionable. During the gubernatorial campaign, candidate Corbett’s face was plastered on a huge Turnpike billboard in Lancaster County touting Attorney General Corbett as the man who put the puppy mills out of business.  Actually, most of the work was headed by special deputy for dog law enforcement Jessi Smith, a 20 year veteran of the state attorney general’s office. In October 2006, she was appointed by former governor Ed Rendell to lead a revamp of Pennsylvania’s dog law and to put an end to the state’s sordid reputation as the puppy mill capital of the world.  She did. Using the law that was signed by governor Rendell in October of 2009, large scale breeders had to double their cage sizes, eliminate wire flooring and provide unfettered access to the outdoors. The new law also banned cage stacking and mandated twice a year vet checks. Rather than comply with these simple, humane steps, the number of commercial kennels went from 303 to about 65. Almost all of the 238 businesses were puppy mills. Even tougher standards for ventilation, humidity, lighting and flooring in commercial kennels were set to take effect on July 1, 2011. However, on June 6, 2011, less than a month before the new standards were to go into effect, Gov. Corbett replaced Ms. Smith with Lynn Diehl, whose entire expertise in dog law enforcement consisted of owning a miniature dachshund named Lilly. However, Gov. Corbett’s spokesperson Nicole Bucher reassured the public of the change by issuing this statement: Governor Corbett is “committed to Pennsylvania dogs.”  Four days later on June 10, another spokesperson for Gov. Corbett announced that Corbett and his wife had arranged to buy two Airedale puppies. However, they wouldn’t be able to join the family until July when the puppies reach 8 weeks of age, the minimum age for sale. The spokesperson said Gov. Corbett was very excited about the prospect of having a dog again.

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The Rev. Timothy Dewald was Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Lebanon Valley College joining the faculty in 1989. He retired in May 2010. In 1993 he won the College's Evelyn J. Knisley award for Inspirational Teaching. In addition to teaching mathematics, Rev. Dewald served the College in 1992 as acting chaplain, taught courses in East Asian religions, a First-Year Seminar on Darwin and evolution, Einstein’s general relativity, and the New Testament, as well as a mathematics and statistics courses. He also served as a parish minister for 23 years. Rev. Dewald graduated from Dickinson College with a degree in political science and religion. He earned a master of divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1987, he received certification in mathematics from the Pennsylvania State University. - Email Timothy Dewald

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