Breaking news: Politicians can now be indicted for lying in Pennsylvania. That means it's time for Gov. Corbett to massively increase the budget for new prisons. Right after he pardons himself, of course.
But today, I'm referring to this actually-kind-of-weird story out of Montgomery County about the arrest of soon-to-be-former GOP Montgomery County commissioner James Matthews, or at this FoxPhiladelphia article calls him in the second paragraph -- "Jim" (with quotation marks) Matthews, if that indeed is his real name. Before today, "Jim"'s claim to fame is that he's the brother of MSNBC personality Christopher "Chris" Matthews. Now, he's also known for doing something bad, although it's impossible to figure out from the first batch of news accounts exactly what he did.
A grand jury did find this:
"Matthews lied with such ease and frequency that he acted as though, as chairman of the Montgomery County Commissioners, he is above the law," the grand jury report said.
Apparently these grand jurors were transported into Montgomery County...from another planet. They should have been tasked with finding a politician who doesn't lie with "ease and frequency," although no grand jury has ever had a term that long
I happen to believe that virtually any sitting politician does enough bad stuff that he could be indicted at any time, if the prosecutor puts his or her mind to it. A former chief justice in New York State named Sol Wachtler once said famously that a grand jury could be convinced to indict a ham sandwich. A few years later, Wachtler himself was indicted. So for me, when I see a prominent politician in handcuffs, the question usually becomes: Why did the DA put her (in this case) mind to it.
Here's what we know about Montgomery County -- much of it getting left out of the news coverage of the arrest of "Jim" Matthews. We know it's a total cesspool. We know there's been a fight for control of the county GOP between a convicted felon and a heavy-handed, free-spending wheeler-dealer. We know that the prosecutor who brought the case against Matthews is America's Worst District Attorney (TM), Risa Vetri Ferman. And we know that Ferman began her probe right after Matthews dissed Ferman's predecessor and mentor who handed her the job, Bruce Castor, by breaking away and forging a political alliance with Democrat Joe Hoeffel.
In other words, the indictment of Jim Matthews is exactly like Wachtler's ham sandwich -- that's been sitting out for two weeks and stinks to high heaven.
And you know who's really to blame for this -- a Republican DA's dubioius and expensive probe of a Republican county commissioner? Democrats. Why? Because they were the party that was too chicken(bleep) to even put up a token candidate to challenge America's Worst District Attorney (TM) in November's election -- even in a county that's Democratic enough to have gone blue in the last five presidential contests.
Remember the chant that still echoes faintly across Dilworth Plaza, "Show me what democracy looks like!"