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Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Posted 7:59 PM by

PaCleanSweep falls to dust

PaCleanSweep, a group which helped oust 17 incumbent lawmakers for passing last year's now-repealed pay raise, faded into history today and will be dissolved.It's official: PaCleanSweep, a Pennsylvania citizens group that helped force the repeal of last year's legislative pay raise and and oust 17 incumbent lawmakers in the May primary, is no more.

A Lebanon County judge approved a motion by five PACleanSweep board members to dissolve the group today, but founder Russ Diamond vowed to continue its Web site and the fight to help make state government more transparent.

"This is not the end of the movement," Diamond said in a statement. "Rather this is simply an adjustment in the way the group operates."

Diamond abandoned his independent run for governor last week when he ws only able to gather 38,322 of the 67,070 signatures he would need to get on the Nov. 7 ballot.


Pennsylvania Democrats filed objections today to the nominating petitions filed by Carl Romanelli, the Green Party's nominee for U.S. Senate.

Romanelli, a Wilkes-Barre resident, was able to obtain at least 90,000 signatures to get his name on the ballot - but only by paying staffers to gather them with the help of $100,000 in campaign contributions, largely from Republican donors, and a few staffers from Republican Sen. Rick Santorum's office.

Carl Romanell of Wilkes-Barre will be the Green Party's nominee for U.S. Senate if his nominating petitions can withstand court scrutiny.Santorum and the GOP are blatantly hoping Romanelli, who is pro-choice on abortion, is able to siphon enough votes from Democrat candidate Bob Casey Jr., who is pro-life, to let the incumbent win reelection.

Democrats are crying foul, but not because of the GOP influence in the third party candidacy. Instead, they're complaining that three-quarters of the signatures on Romanelli's nominating petitions are invalid because of fake names, names of unregistered voters, and illegible signatures.

Records on file with the Federal Election Commission show the Luzerne County Green Party received $66,000 in June from 20 contributors who gave between $1,000 and $5,000 apiece.

The Luzerne County Green Party in turn reported paying $66,000 in June to a company called JSM Inc., even though the Florida-based petition-gathering firm has had a checkered past.

And to think I once liked the Green Party better than the Democrats.


Lobbyist Leonard N. Ross, Philadelphia Mayor John Street's friend and former law partner, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail and a $25,000 fine for pay-to-play politics.

Leonard Ross, Philly Mayor John Street's friend and former law partner, will be spending the next 2 1/2 year in jail for misuing his public position as head of a city redevelopment effort for Penn's Landing.Ross was named chairman of a city committee to choose a developer for Penn's Landing in 2003. He pleaded guilty in December to using his position to get developers to donate money to Street's re-election campaign; provided a lobbyist for one bidder with inside information in exchange for help with a $150,000 bank loan; and sought a job for his wife with another bidder.

"I'm deeply ashamed and embarrassed by what I did," said Ross, 58.

He should be, according to U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson, who imposed the maximum jail sentence. "Corruption is a cancer, and unless it is excised and dealt with and killed it can just spread and do terrible damage," the judge said.

Ross is the second city official in as many days to be heading to the slammer. Former City Councilman Rick Mariano started his 6 1/2-year jail sentence on Monday for taking bribes to pay off his credit card debts.
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