Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Veon Crossed Line, As Did Prosecution (So Far)

Whatever altruism accompanied Mike Veon's introduction to elected office had corroded beyond recognition long before the formerly powerful Democratic Representative was whistled for offenses against the public, but his split-decision conviction should leave citizens unsatisfied for several reasons.

First is the trial judge's refusal to enable Veon (right) to advance a selective prosecution defense, a ruling that will be justifiable only if several dozen additional legislators are charged promptly (on second thought, strike promptly, at least with respect to Republicans).

Second is the trial judge's dubious excusal of a juror for sudden onset of illness, shortly after that juror had turning on one another." After that juror was excused, six days of contentious deliberation turned into a short-order conviction.

Third, the timing of this and related prosecutions has been too convenient for comfort.

Attorney General Tom Corbett first tried Democratic Rep. Sean Ramaley (left), who was innocent, along a timetable that wrecked Ramaley's Senate campaign, paving a Republican's route to a seat that had been held by Democrats for 35 years. Corbett then charged Veon with timing that arranged Democratic scalps trials before Republican voters encountered Corbett's name on a primary ballot. Corbett did not charge Veon's tutor in taxpayer abuse, Republican John Perzel, until it was late enough to defer a verdict until after Corbett's gubernatorial race.

Corbett's partisan grandstanding with respect to federal health care reform reinforces a conclusion that the attorney general's office is being operated as a subsidiary of the Corbett for Governor campaign (right), as does Corbett's inaction concerning the incarceration-for-profit of innocent children.

Corbett is not alone in manipulating official activity for political gain -- Dan Onorato has preserved an immoral and unconstitutional system of misassessments for years, motivated by the same gubernatorial campaign calendar -- but the problem is magnified when the warped decisions involve law enforcement (or lack of it).

The common sense that should have warned Veon against sending his basketball buddies' take-out dinner tabs to taxpayers also causes any sensible person to recognize that a $10 million taxpayer-funded campaign computer system dwarves any pizza-and-burgers checks. Mike Veon was not smart enough to recognize he was crossing the line; he also was not smart enough to devise the scheme that will place him in prison. He merely emulated Republicans who had preceded Veon and Bill DeWeese as leaders of a legislative majority in Harrisburg.

Corbett's first campaign prosecutorial priority, however, was dining Democrats; informed citizens should ask for an explanation.


Anonymous said...

Don't agree with you on this - Veon got what he deserved - but this is a great blog!

Infinonymous said...

With the caution applicable to everyone who was outside the courtroom, it appeared Veon crossed the line and deserved punishment.

That doesn't mean the judge conducted a fair trial or that Veon's selective prosecution claim was unfounded.

The best situation might be a couple of dozen more legislators (or former legislators) facing charges. Public corruption prosecution standards should be one-size-fits-all.

Your final point is a good one.