"What's black and white and read all over?"

Saturday, February 23, 2008
Posted 9:35 PM by

Connect the Mike Veon dots in Slotsylvania

Lobbyist and former Democratic state representative Mike Veon.Two years after voters threw Mike Veon out of office in anger for the 2005 legislative pay raise, which he was the lone representative to vote against repealing, Veon is just one of 834 registered lobbyists roaming the halls in Harrisburg.

Or is he?

There are now three lobbyists seeking influence for every lawmaker in the Capitol, but Veon is still reaping at least one benefit from holding his former office.

Both Gov. Ed Rendell and the House Democratic Campaign Committee, a group of partisan ratfuckers that Veon used to lead, have come to his aid - bailing out the remaining $45,000 of campaign debt outstanding from his unsuccessful re-election bid in 2006.

The committee wiped out most of the debt, spending $40,683 - money that was donated to the committee to get fellow Democrats elected, not help a former colleague now in the private sector.

To top it off, Veon handed out $80,000 in bonuses to a dozen staff members at his district office using state tax money, touching off an investigation that led to the Bonusgate scandal which is still rocking the 'burg.

State Rep. Todd Eachus (D-Luzerne County), who now chairs the committee, defended his unilateral decision to bail out Veon, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he would have done the same thing for any Democrat who lost.

Yet, two of Veon's former Democratic colleagues, both of whom hail from Beaver County the same as Veon did, have campaign debts the committee hasn't offered to pay off. Rep. Sean Ramaley owes $7,000 from his first campaign for the state House in 2004 and Rep. Vincent Biancucci owes $12,000 from his 2002 and 2004 races, state records show.

Ramaley is withholding judgment at this point, other than saying he would prefer the committee stick to its mission. Biancucci actually defended the move to the Post-Gazette. "This debt was not paid off with any funds coming from the commonwealth," he said.

Why so much deference for Veon then two years after he was ousted?

Is this payback for all he did - for himself and others - during his 22 years in the House?

Does Veon know where all the skeletons are buried and this is hush money? After all, he received $60,000 in campaign contributions from now-indicted slots parlor owner Louis DeNaples.

Or is it something simpler.

Veon not only wanted slots gambling when he was a top Democrat in the state House, he wanted riverboat gambling too and pushed hard to get it. Now that he's a lobbyist, is he still working toward the goal of gambling expansion?

His registration papers with the state don't list what he's lobbying for and he's shown no expenses so far. However, the records do say among Veon's many clients is Malady & Wooten, LLP, which represents "gaming" interests among its clients.

The double-blind of having Veon represent them, means Veon doesn't have to publicly say if he's now lobbying for gambling interests under the state's lobbyist disclosure law. That's how weak the law is.


For more about lobbyist and former House Democratic whip Mike Veon, click here.

Labels: ,

 |  0 comments  |  |  RSS Feed | Add to Technorati Favorites

This Week's Rants | The Daily Rant Archives

Creative Commons License
The Daily Rant by Dave Ralis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.