Something’s Rotten in the State of Pennsylvania

The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.

— C.L. baron de Montesquieu

For the last few weeks in one Pennsylvania newspaper after another the story which is being called “Bonusgate” has been unfolding. By July 9 over a dozen employees of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus along with two former Lancaster County Democrat leaders have been indicted. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office announced the charges were the first phase of an investigation into allegations that state employees used public time and equipment and got taxpayer-funded bonuses for political work.

Some of that work involved the use of state employees to challenge the nominating petitions of Ralph Nader in 2004 (See my article “Political Profiling in Pennsylvania” and Carl Romanelli 2006. The state employees used by the Democrats to remove Romanelli were particularly pernicious .(see my article “The Price of Free Speech“) Democrats went to such lengths to have me arrested for disorderly conduct just in order to eliminate another one of Romanelli’s defenders. The grand jury report described a “massive” effort by House Democrats to oust the independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader from the ballot in 2004. The report also says that in 2006 the same machine was fired up again to remove Carl Romanelli, the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate.

The Democrats’ Culture of Corruption

The grand jury found that as many as 50 Democrat House Caucus staff members participated in the Nader petition challenge and contributed a staggering number of man-hours. One House Democrat employee testified before the grand jury that “everybody was working on this”. It was virtually a caucus wide endeavor and many of the employees spent an entire week on the Nader petition challenge. None of the supervisors of this “veritable army of caucus staffers” ever asked the workers to take unpaid leave and the bulk of the research was done in the Capitol complex and in the district office of former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon.

The grand jury found that House Democrats paid $1.2 million in bonuses for campaign related activities from 2004 to 2006. This was only a single facet of the concentrated effort to employ taxpayer funds and resources for campaign purposes.

Upon the successful challenge to the Nader petition Democrat Whip Mike Veon sent an e-mail to his staff stating: “FYI. Great job by our staff! This would have never been successful without your work. You have given John Kerry an even better opportunity to win the state. One of the five most important states to win this year[sic]. This is a very significant fact and significant contribution by each one of you to the Kerry for President campaign. You should take great pride in your efforts.”

The Romanelli petition challenge was led by Brett Cott, a former analyst on Veon’s Capitol staff who announced it was very important to “leadership” that Romanelli not appear on the ballot. Staffers were told not to worry about leave but to focus on getting the petition challenges done as soon as possible.

To make matters worse both Ralph Nader and Carl Romanelli were ordered by the courts to pay the Democrat Party’s legal expenses! One of the largest law firms in the world, Reed Smith was used by the Democrat Party in its effort to remove Ralph Nader. Nader was ordered to pay $81,000 in legal fees. Ironically the law firm of Reed Smith contributed somewhere in the neighborhood of $37,000 to the election campaigns of the judges who ruled against Ralph Nader and in favor of Reed Smith!

As I said in my 2005 article, “There are two ways to defeat democracy, one way is by preventing citizens from voting, and the other is by preventing worthy candidates from appearing on the ballot. When the law can be used as a subterranean tool in a process which can only be labeled ‘political profiling’ the meaning and the intent of the law is subverted as is the democracy from which those laws were supposed to have sprung.”

That ain’t no way to treat a lady

The Pennsylvania Democrats do not limit their efforts at destroying the democratic process by only attacking Presidential or Senatorial candidates. Only one week ago a member of my own campaign staff who was collecting signatures for my ballot access effort in Lancaster Pennsylvania was harassed by a Democrat Party operative in plain sight of the Democrat Party candidate for Congress. My campaign worker told me that the Democrat staffer said to her, in a menacing voice, that he would go over her petitions with a magnifying glass and check that there were no duplicate signatures on any of my petitions. Having an operative of the Democrat Party menace a woman helping an independent candidate achieve ballot access indicates the level of depravity to which the Democrat Party and its operatives have sunk.

With any luck the grand jury will discover that the removal of Romanelli and Nader constitutes nothing less than a criminal conspiracy with the overt purpose of destroying democracy in Pennsylvania. The judgments against Nader and Romanelli should be abandoned and Democrat Party leaders in Pennsylvania should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for this heinous act.

John Murphy was the independent candidate for House of Representatives in Pennsylvania's 16th district in 2006 and 2008 . He is a founding member of the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition where he represents the independent candidacy of Ralph Nader. He can be reached at: Read other articles by John, or visit John's website.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. rosemarie jackowski said on July 16th, 2008 at 1:09pm #

    The legal system in the US is so corrupted that when justice prevails, it is not because of the Court but in spite of it. Anyone with enough money can game the system – hire professional liars under the name of expert witnesses, etc.

    The Dems have succeeded in keeping Nader off the ballots and out of the debates. What are the Dems afraid of -they are afraid of being exposed for what they are. There is an answer. The voters have to write-in ‘NADER’. It’s easy. I have been writing-in NADER for 20+ years.

  2. Mike Bergmaier said on July 16th, 2008 at 1:47pm #


    Great piece. I’ve long held contempt for Veon’s despicable challenge of Nader in ’04. Though you and I are on far apart on the political spectrum, political integrity and the rule of law are nonpartisan values. Veon’s arrogant statements to the media (not to mention his newly-revealed statements to staffers), where he basically trumpeted his efforts to knock Nader off the ballot as “allowing voters to focus on the REAL choices,” made it clear he was a worthless political hack.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. HR said on July 16th, 2008 at 4:45pm #

    Glad someone is reporting on Democratic corruption. They are just as bad as their “opposition”. Neither party is worthy of a single vote, as Mr. Sellout, Barack Obama demonstrates on a daily basis. All politicians think with their genitals.

  4. 24hrlib said on July 16th, 2008 at 10:15pm #

    Politicians have genitals??? I thought they lacked those along with spines…

    Nader ’08!

  5. Martha said on July 17th, 2008 at 7:30am #

    Great article by John Murphy. Why is the topic being ignored by Democracy Now and all the rest now that there is concrete proof? Oh, I forgot, they aren’t independent, they’re part of the Barack Obama campaign. Well done, Mr. Murphy.