Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mike Veon's Non Profit Empire Funnel

According to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Mike Veon's escapades reach into the non-profit world. It appears investigators have uncovered a fifth organization where he funneled state funds, some of which appears to violate state grant guidelines.

"The money earmarked for youth athletics in Beaver County apparently was sent to the home of Dennis Rousseau, a Beaver County labor leader whose address appears on organizational filings.

Rousseau, a friend of Veon's who ran unsuccessfully for Veon's seat last fall, did not respond to calls for comment. He previously told the Tribune-Review he had been appointed without his consent to the board of another nonprofit linked to Veon.

Beaver County Sports and Recreation and three other nonprofits grew out of the nonprofit Beaver Initiative for Growth. Veon and former state Sen. Gerald LaValle formed, controlled and funded the Beaver Initiative for Growth with $10.6 million in state money.

The five groups -- three others were Lend-A-Hand Network, Beaver Race Initiative Development Group Effort and Beaver County Community Service and Development -- collected nearly $13 million in state grants before voters ousted Veon."

Mike Veon is the same person that Todd Eachus, now Majority Leader replacing Bill DeWeese, paid off his campaign debts after he lost. His famous quote on his actions:

Mr. Veon's new job as a lobbyist has added a wrinkle to the issue. His firm, Veon & Associates, is paid to lobby members of the Legislature on tobacco regulation and other issues.

Mr. Eachus said Mr. Veon's position as a lobbyist was not a factor in the decision to pay off his debt.

"That's an individual circumstance, but it doesn't change the fact that Mike Veon was a dedicated member of the Democratic caucus," he said. "If any other member were to lose their elections, the campaign committee would respond the same."

Veon, the former Democratic House whip who lost his seat in 2006, is awaiting trial on 59 counts of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest in a public corruption investigation that followed the awarding of bonuses to legislative staffers in 2006.

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