Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Altimre, Murtha: Orange Jump Suits?

Hi my friends: On Thursday I'm going to have to (key phrase) have our 21-year-old cat, Larry Bird, put down. It's the only humane thing to. Thus, my next new column will be up on Friday. Hope to see you back!

"I'm shocked, shocked to find that there's gambling at Ricks!" (Claude Rains, "Casablanca")

I'm sure Jason Altmire and his "campaign manager," John Murtha, are "shocked, shocked" to find out that there's pervasive, systemic corruption in Pennsylvania Democratic politics. Of course, Murtha (opposed by William Russell) and Altmire (opposed by Melissa Hart) have a lot in common. In 2006, Murtha's PAC gave money to Altmire and helped raised him lots of $$$$ from the same unsavory influence-buyers who support Murtha's own campaign.

Some people have recurrent nightmares. My recurrent dream is a pleasant one: it has Altmire and Murtha being led off in leg irons and orange jump suits. Could there truly be such justice in this lifetime? One can only dream . . .

Jack Murtha has close relationships with Pennsylvania Democrats, especially those in his 12th district. Of course, as the previous colum indicates, many of those Democrats are in fact getting ready for their own orange jump suits. The political boss in Greene County, a mostly rural area in Murtha's 12th district is a man named Bill DeWeese, the majority leader of the House Democrats.

DeWeese has not been indicted . . . yet.

His chief of staff, Michael Manzo, is not quite so lucky. He's charged with 47 counts, including theft and criminal conspiracy. His maximum penalties are $660,000 in fines and 113 years in prison. Trust me, Michael, you can go through a lot of orange jump suits over a century-plus.

Manzo is charged with using truckloads of political funds for campaigns -- and worse. In 2004, he also began an affair with a 21-year-old intern. Instead of working for the state as was supposed to be the case, the young woman attended graduate school in Pittsburgh. Manzo created a "job" for her -- a great one that involved little or no work and paid as much as $36,000 in one year.

How did Mrs. Manzo feel about all this? Well, she -- a legislative aide for the House Democratic Caucus -- has her own problems. She's been charged with 12 counts, including conflict of interest and theft. Her thoughts about her husband's young, long-time mistress are not yet a matter or record.

How did Manzo's boss -- and Murtha's political ally -- Bill DeWeese feel about all this? Unlike Claude Rains, he didn't claim to be shocked; he did claim to be "outraged." DeWeese is a man who isn't easily outraged. His tolerance for bad behavior by Democratic staffers is legendary.

However, if DeWeese didn't know what his chief of staff was up to, he must qualify as the worst manager in world history. Deniability seems to be DeWeese's guiding principle of life.

I seriously wonder how much campaign work DeWeese and his staff did for Murtha's campaigns -- on taxpayer's money. Perhaps someone might ask Murtha and his minions, although I doubt they'll get an answer. Also, how much money did Murtha funnel into Greene County politics -- directly and indirectly?

As for Altmire, his main problem is a man named Mike Veon, who formerly served as House Democratic whip. Veon "served" as the House representative from my area. He's charged with 59 counts, including conflict of interest, theft, and criminal conspiracy.

His maximum penalty is $805,00 fines. He could theoretically spend 381 years in prison -- at which point he would be the oldest living man in the history of the world.

Veon and his people specialized in running campaigns -- his and that of other Democrats. Whenever possible, they did it with taxpayers' money.

I hope we find out soon if one of those other campaigns was that of Jason Altmire. How much money did Veon funnel to him -- presumably under some sort of "good government" fig leaf?

Anyone who wants to learn how Murtha "does business," his favorite phrase, can look up his place of dishonor in the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's list of the "20 most corrupt congressmen." Remember, this is the man Jason Altmire called his "campaign manager." This is Altmire's role model.

One of the great unanswered questions in American politics is: where does Murtha's campaign money go? In 2006, against Diana Irey, he spent more than $3 million. But during the campaign, he was almost invisible. How much of that money went in the direction of men named DeWeese and Veon? And how much did such people help their favorite Democratic candidates?

"Follow the money," as Deep Throat said during Watergate.

As time goes on, I'm going to pick up Democratic rocks -- and we can all see what creepy crawlies clamber out.

Are we having fun yet, Jason? John?

1 comment:

Mike said...

One thing we both agree on is that the Pennsylvania legislature is badly in need of an overhaul. I think the size should be cut at least in half, and have them get rid of their walking around money. This would save the state millions. However, it will not happen, because neither party wants it to. The only candidate I have heard suggest that around here is Brad Cline who is running against Mike Turzai.

Didn’t Melissa Hart actually serve for 10 years in that cesspool called the State Senate? She actually dove in head first and swam around for quite a while. How could she have possibily stayed clean? I am sure she learned a lot serving with people like a Republican pal of hers, former State Representative Jeff Habay. I just read that convicted felon Jeff Habay is supposed to report to jail on August 1st for abusing his office, and making false claims that he received letters laced with anthrax?

Melissa and Jeff must have been best buddies since she represented his district during almost her entire political career.