HARRISBURG - It's not fair.
That appears to be the theme through 600 pages of exhibits submitted yesterday in Dauphin County Court to support a defense motion to drop charges against former Rep. Michael Veon and others in the state government corruption case known as Bonusgate.
Attorneys for Veon, a Beaver County Democrat, say he and the 11 other Democrats charged last year were singled out by a Republican attorney general seeking political gain as he explores a run for governor.
"The battle lines in this case are drawn down party lines," attorneys Joel Sansone and Daniel Raynak said in the motion.
The case centers on the use of taxpayer money to subsidize political campaigns, including payments of bonuses to state employees who worked on state time to get their bosses reelected.
The conduct "was neither illegal nor unusual," Sansone and Raynak argued.
They compiled e-mails, campaign literature, election expenditure reports, and news stories that referred to campaign work by Republican and Democratic staffers who have not been charged.
The filing does not argue that any of that work was illegal, just that it's no different from what the 12 defendants did.
Kevin Harley, spokesman for Attorney General Tom Corbett, said there was a world of difference.
"It's an orchestrated scheme that Veon ran," he said. Suite 626 in the Capitol "was a literal campaign operation filled with printing presses, phone banks, and people who did nothing but fund-raising. It goes beyond the pale."
It's not realistic to expect the attorney general to investigate every instance of someone sending a campaign-related e-mail on the taxpayers' dime, Harley said.
At least two other defendants - Brett Cott, a top legislative aide, and Steve Keefer, former director of technology for the Democratic caucus - have also filed motions to have their cases quashed.
Exhibits filed yesterday by Veon's attorneys focus on campaign activity by former Rep. Stephen Stetler of York County, now state revenue secretary; House Democratic Whip Bill DeWeese of Greene County; his spokesman, Tom Andrews; and Kevin Sidella, who was a legislative aide and campaign treasurer to DeWeese.
"DeWeese supervised, directed, and collaborated with the House caucus staff on his personal political reelection campaigns," the attorneys wrote in a memo accompanying the filing. "DeWeese state House staff directly worked on DeWeese's reelection campaigns using state resources on state time."
In a written statement, DeWeese responded: "Prosecutors made their charging decisions based on the totality of the evidence, which included thousands of e-mails and other documents that my team preserved and I turned over to investigators. They also had the sworn testimony of approximately 200 witnesses who I urged to fully cooperate. It would be inappropriate to comment on desperate tactics that the criminal defense attorneys are using to muddy the waters."
The exhibits include news stories that refer to campaign work by House and Senate Republican staffers who, attorneys say, were as extensively involved in political campaigns as Democratic staffers but have not been charged.
Other exhibits include dozens of e-mails showing Stetler's intimate involvement with campaign work between 1999 and 2003, when he was a state representative and officer of the House Democratic Campaign Committee. Stetler could not be reached for comment.