urging caution on the media reports surrounding Grand Jury testimony against Todd Eachus reporters Tom Infield and Mario F. Cattabiani of the Philadelphia Inquirer were enlightening the public with a closer "Peek Inside the Bonusgate Investigation".
As one of them later testified to a grand jury, staff members of Rep. Todd Eachus, then the Democratic policy chairman, became worried about the lawfulness of political work they were doing on state time.
John Paul Jones recalled fellow staff member Rachel Manzo's saying that maybe they needed to be a little more discreet.
Thus, Jones said, he stopped doing political chores in Eachus' office on the first floor of the Capitol, where there were "a lot of eyes."
He moved to an empty fifth-floor office.
At the same time, Eachus' staffers decided to stop using House e-mail for political purposes. Instead, Jones said, they used Yahoo Messenger "to communicate back and forth."
"In other words," a prosecutor asked Jones, "what you're saying is, 'We're going to keep on doing the wrongdoing, but we're going to have to hide it better.' "
"Exactly," Jones replied.
It also suggests how power went to the head of at least one leader. The snippets reveal imperial tendencies of former House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese - charged last week in the state attorney general's Bonusgate investigation - who, witnesses said, required his House staffers to attend to his personal care, even sending one state aide to the drugstore for peanuts, dishwashing detergent, and condoms.
The testimony appears to implicate Eachus (D., Luzerne), now the House majority leader, in some of the same political activity at taxpayer expense that has resulted in criminal charges against 15 Democrats and 10 Republicans since July 2008. (The first Bonusgate trial ended this month with the acquittal of former Rep. Sean Ramaley, a Western Pennsylvania Democrat, on theft and other charges.)
Eachus has not been charged with any wrongdoing in the investigation, which is being overseen by Attorney General Tom Corbett, who is a Republican candidate for governor.
But grand jury witnesses said Eachus encouraged some on his House staff to do political work on state time.
Jones said Eachus himself placed fund-raising calls from his Capitol office. His staff would give him names of people likely to give $5,000 or $10,000 to either the House Democratic Campaign Committee or to Eachus' own political account, Jones testified.
Though he admitted doing political work during "95 percent" of work hours at some points in 2007, Jones has not been charged with any crime. While on Eachus' policy committee staff, he also served as executive director of the House Democrats' campaign committee.
He said that Eachus gave him a cover story: He was to say that his job was investigating alternative energy issues for the committee.
"Your job is to study alternative energy, correct?" a prosecutor asked Jones.
"Absolutely," Jones replied. "Yes."
"But you didn't study alternative energy?"
"Todd Eachus and the rest of his staff knew that, correct?"
Eachus rose to power at amazing speed. What he didn't learn in life is that the more meteoric the rise the harder and faster the fall.
Eachus's demeanor is more his problem right now than the implications. From stories out of Harrisburg people in his own caucus more than despise him. His arrogance walks about ten feet in front of him. He rules by intimidation, not humility. If you have a disagreement with him he cleaves the relationship. If Eachus was more personable with those working by his side the troops would rally around him rather than relish in his purported role in Bonusgate.
The current rumor d'jor is that Rendell has asked Corbett to withhold any charges until the table game legislation is finished. Again, just rumor and speculation. Eachus has not been charged.
What SOP finds interesting is that Corbett gave Eachus the opportunity to testify before the Grand Jury and, to date, Eachus has not taken advantage of that request. Would that speak to cooperation in the investigation? You be the judge.
There is an oddity not being noticed. Corbett has been hammered for conducting the Bonusgate investigation while seeking the office of Governor. Yet, Auditor General Jack Wagner can issue statements from his office against Lou Barletta while he is running for governor but it goes unnoticed.
Eachus urged AG Tom Corbett to step down while running for governor but you don't hear his cry for the same by Jack Wagner, Democrat.
BTW www.toddeachus.com is down.