Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Legislative Corruption

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Editorial Department:

Legislative corruption: The frayed thread

There is a troubling thread emerging from the ongoing legislative corruption prosecutions. And it should be considered a frayed thread, a troubling metaphor for what too many public servants consider "public service" to be.

How many times have we heard from attorneys defending those charged with politicking on the public dime that the laws prohibiting such activities are "vague." We've heard that even from legal eagles representing state legislators who voted for the measures.

Or, how about this oldie but goodie: "Everybody does it." That's not a defense. That's a whine more typically associated with a sixth-grader whose parents won't let their 12-year-old daughter go on an unsupervised camping trip with the seventh-grade boys hockey team.

And the excuse-making knows no party or gender bounds and no limit on audacity.

State Sen. Jane Orie, R-McCandless, claims a political persecution by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala. But she's been ordered to stand trial on charges that she used one of her offices and legislative staff to politick, a contention staffer after staffer has corroborated.

State Rep. Bill DeWeese, D-Waynesburg, admitted in his grand jury testimony that he was on the other side of the statute. That was the clincher for his being held for trial on public corruption charges. Yet his attorney, William Costopoulos (also employed by Ms. Orie), refers to Mr. DeWeese's actions as "pettygate."

But this isn't petty stuff. The law says it's a crime. And it should be. Taxpayers should not be forced to underwrite an incumbent protection program.

From yesterday's post, tell me this isn't incumbent protection:

Jones testified that Eachus wanted to spend "soft dollars" through state-paid public service announcements so the campaigns would spend less of their resources.

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