Following the recent release of Louis Freeh's report on the Penn State scandal, Gov. Corbett took questions from the media about the investigation of serial child molester Jerry Sandusky, which began when Corbett was attorney general. When asked if he could have expedited the three-year investigation and taken the former assistant coach off the streets earlier, Corbett pounded the lectern and angrily insisted, "We do not hold up investigations for anything." He added that the question was "out of line" because it supposedly disparaged the rank-and-file investigators and prosecutors who worked the case.
Corbett's apoplectic reaction was strange indeed. As he must have known, no one was questioning the excellent work of the law enforcement personnel who brought Sandusky to justice. The questions concerned Corbett's leadership and allocation of resources to the investigation while he was heading the Attorney General's Office and running for governor.
Corbett initially assigned one or possibly two investigators to the Sandusky case, according to reports. This puny allocation of personnel continued for the remainder of his term as attorney general, during which time he ran successfully for governor.
On taking over for Corbett in 2011, his successor as attorney general, Linda L. Kelly, promptly ramped up the investigation and increased its staffing, which led to Sandusky's highly publicized arrest and conviction.
So why did Corbett take such a relatively lackadaisical approach to what promised to be a high-profile case? It is more than fair to ask whether the then-gubernatorial candidate had concerns about alienating the vast Penn State community of voters and potential donors by arresting Sandusky, an icon of the university's football program, before the election. The question is especially pertinent given that Corbett's campaign reportedly accepted more than $640,000 in donations from people associated with Sandusky's charity, the Second Mile.
In addition, after he became governor, Corbett approved a $3 million state grant to the Second Mile. He did this knowing that a child molestation case was being built that could destroy Sandusky and discredit his charity.
Corbett claims that he had to approve the grant because to do otherwise would have revealed that Sandusky was under scrutiny. Seriously? Was there no way to defer action on the grant? Was it really a choice between approval or rejection? Of course not. There are many ways Corbett could have punted on the funding without alerting the world to the Sandusky investigation.
As governor, Corbett is an ex-officio trustee of Penn State. According to the Freeh report, when the board met to decide the fate of Joe Paterno and others, Corbett admonished his fellow trustees to "remember the children."