HARRISBURG - A key defendant in the Bonusgate investigation is now alleging that House Majority Whip Bill DeWeese engaged in the same conduct that led to sweeping corruption charges against a dozen House Democratic insiders.
In a potentially explosive court filing yesterday, former Rep. Mike Veon alleges that DeWeese, a Democrat from Greene County who has not been charged, engaged in "exactly the same activities" described in the Bonusgate indictment. The indictment alleges that Veon and 11 others carried out a massive conspiracy to use taxpayer dollars and resources to benefit political campaigns.
The filing does not give any details on what DeWeese, who until late last year was the House's top Democrat, allegedly did.
But it accuses the state Attorney General's Office of selective prosecution, alleging that its lawyers have materials demonstrating that DeWeese and his staff did many of the same things that prompted the indictment.
DeWeese has repeatedly denied knowing that taxpayer money secretly had been used to underwrite campaigns.
He added in a statement last night: "The attorney general's investigation has been ongoing for over two years and was extremely thorough in its review of the operations of our caucus. It is the role of the attorney general, not Mr. Veon, to decide who's indicted."
The Dauphin County Court filing is the first indication that Veon, the House's former second-ranking Democrat, who served 22 years in the chamber before losing a bid for reelection in 2006, may be willing to turn against his former colleague and friend.
Veon's attorney, Joel Sansone, said last night that his client did not do anything wrong and that "it will soon be clear that no laws were broken and Mr. Veon performed his duties within the law and morally."
"But," Sansone said, "if the prosecution is claiming that what he did was criminal, then why did they only prosecute him, since there were many others who did it, too?"
Kevin Harley, spokesman for Attorney General Tom Corbett, yesterday reiterated that the investigation was ongoing, and said Veon's motion was "filled with frivolous accusations without any supporting evidence."
In his court filing, Veon points fingers at a number of other former and current House Democratic and Republican lawmakers who he alleges routinely used their employees to work on campaigns during taxpayers' time, but who were never charged.
Veon is asking the court to dismiss the case, saying he and the 11 others charged "are the victims of unlawful selective and arbitrary prosecution."
Veon is also claiming that attorneys with Corbett's office engaged in prosecutorial misconduct, including alleged intimidation of witnesses - claims that Harley said the Attorney General's Office "vehemently denies."
Veon also takes a swipe at Corbett, a Republican considering a run for governor in 2010, contending that Corbett's investigation is politically motivated. Corbett has repeatedly denied that allegation.
In a separate case, Veon and an assistant are charged with illegally diverting taxpayer dollars through the Beaver Initiative for Growth, a nonprofit agency he controlled, to hire consultants who performed little or no work, to rent office space that was hardly used by the nonprofit, and to handle various political and legislative chores.
A district judge recently threw out the charges, saying there was not enough evidence to support them. But the Attorney General's Office refiled the charges and asked that they be heard by a Common Pleas Court judge.