Yesterday, Attorney General Tom Corbett announced charges against two high-profile Democratic officials. House Majority Whip Bill DeWeese and Revenue Secretary Stephen Stetler both face allegations of using tax dollars for political work.
An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer lays out the basics:
The two men - as well as Sharon Rodavich, a longtime legislative aide in DeWeese's district office in southwestern Pennsylvania - are charged with six counts of conflict of interest, theft, and conspiracy.
The charges bring to 25 the number of current and former legislators and aides associated with the state House's Democratic and Republican caucuses to be criminally accused in the investigation, now in its third year.
John Baer, the Daily News political columnist in Harrisburg, writes that testimony from DeWeese's own staff was critical in developing the case.
DeWeese's former chief of staff, Mike Manzo, charged last year but cooperating with prosecutors, told the grand jury that DeWeese "had no campaign apparatus beyond his legislative staff," Corbett said.
Manzo also testified that De-Weese's longtime district aide, Sharon Rodavich, 53, "did nothing but politics . . . didn't do any [legislative] work" for her state salary and extensive sick leave, vacation and comp time, all with DeWeese's knowledge.
DeWeese's apparent fall from grace is the latest chapter in a long career, according to a short profile in the Inquirer.
G. Terry Madonna, a politics professor at Franklin and Marshall College, first met DeWeese when he had just two terms under his belt. Madonna remembers the young legislator who stuck his hand out and said, "I'm Bill DeWeese, and I'm going to be speaker."
"Bill DeWeese's entire career in politics and government has been about one personal objective: to be the speaker of the House," Madonna said.
DeWeese achieved that goal and served as speaker for the 1993-94 legislative term. He lost the post after Republicans captured the House, but he remained the ranking Democrat until November 2008.
An atmosphere of near-paralysis now grips Harrisburg. It was on grim display yesterday afternoon.
Even as a tardy state House was struggling to reach agreement on a near-final piece of budget legislation promised in October, the state attorney general was at a microphone announcing further charges in his long-running probe of legislative corruption.
It was the 168th consecutive day on which the state didn't have a completed budget; it was due June 30. The missing element was $250 million that is to come from taxes and fees from the proposal to add table games to slots parlors. That debate also held up funding for several state-related universities, including Penn State, Temple, and Lincoln.
We'll keep bringing you all the latest developments.