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Pennsylvania’s unending story of corruption and sleazy emails

Jul 10th, 2016 | By | Category: Features, Front Page

Pigs love to wallow in mud. In Pennsylvania, members of Pennsylvania’s political and legal establishments seem to relish wading into cesspools of corruption.

Nine years ago, in Pennsylvania, Democrats were charged with “illegal use of government funds for political purposes.” Former House Speaker Bill DeWeese and Democratic Whip Mike Veon went to jail for their starring roles in Bonusgate. (1)

Republicans were not to be outdone. Five years later, in the Computergate scandal, House Republicans were charged with “using state-paid employees and computer resources to abet GOP political campaigns.” Several worthies went to jail, including former House Speaker John Perzel and Brett Feese, who served as the chief legal counsel for House Republicans. (2)

Nor should we forget the esteemed Orie sisters, whose fealty to family values evidently led them to engage in joint corruption. The trio—all Republicans—consisted of Joan Orie Melvin (state Supreme Court Justice), Jane Orie (state senator) and Janine Orie (secretary to Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin). They ended up serving either house arrest or prison terms. (3)

Just when we thought public life in Pennsylvania had become too dull, along came Porngate. While reinvestigating the Sandusky case, state Attorney General Kathleen Kane “learned that her computer servers had for years been a hub for the exchange of troubling email messages among prosecutors, investigators, judges, and defense lawyers.” Scores of high-ranking officials had been busily sending and receiving pornographic and otherwise offensive emails. Soon heads began to roll, including that of Frank Fina, the former top state prosecutor who had “won convictions of nearly two dozen Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Harrisburg” in the past decade. (4)

That, we thought, should be it! Surely there would be no more email scandals: after Porngate, nobody in his right mind, certainly not our great legal minds, would go near a racially insensitive email.

Think again. In the last few days, a public defender has produced email chains containing offensive material that she claims were shared among Dauphin County judges and various attorneys. A judge has resigned. (5)

 

(1) http://www.post-gazette.com/home/2012/02/12/Bonusgate-How-the-statewide-public-corruption-case-unfolded/stories/201202121900

(2) http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/10/brett_feese_computergate_disba.html

(3) http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2015/03/11/Janine-Orie-s-appeal-denied-by-state-Supreme-Court/stories/201503110211

(4) http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2016/06/08/Frank-Fina-prosecutor-ensnared-in-Porngate-leaves-Philadelphia-DA-s-office-sandusky-kane-pennsylvania/stories/201606080159

 

(5)  http://abc27.com/2016/07/08/attorney-reveals-emails-claims-racism-and-inappropriate-relationships-at-dauphin-county-courthouse/

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