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

Monday, March 03, 2008
Posted 11:11 PM by

Corbett, Rendell keeping DeNaples' money

The governor and the state's top prosecutor won't give back Louis DeNaples' campaign contributions - unless he's convicted.Look who finally woke up to the fact that our state is drowning in legalized gambling corruption? Why, it's the Patriot-News of Harrisburg.

On Sunday, the better-late-than-never newspaper actually published a story about indicted slots parlor owner Louis DeNaples' extensive campaign contributions to the state's top elected officials, including Gov. Ed Rendell and Attorney General Tom Corbett.

The Patriot News' says DeNaples' total contributions were "as much as $840,275" between 2000 and 2005.

In 2006, the Times-Tribune of Scranton put the total at "$1,002,950."

My own research found DeNaples had contributed at least $679,375 between 2000 and 2004 under his own name and through two of the many business the Dunmore billionaire operates, D&L Realty and RAM Consultants.

However, records in the state's online campaign contributions database are clearly incomplete.

For instance, The Patriot reported that state's top prosecutor received $15,000 from D&L Realty in 2004 and 2005. My own research says he accepted at least $35,000, including a $10,000 donation on Jan. 27, 2004 and a $25,000 donation on April 15, 2004.

I will give the Patriot points, though, for finally asking Corbett if he would give the money back now that DeNaples has been indicted on perjury charges for allegedly lying to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board about his ties to reputed mobsters.

The answer the newspaper got shouldn't surprise you.

"When those contributions were accepted, he did not have a gaming license and they were legal contributions," said Kevin Harley, a spokesman for Corbett's office. "There's no plans to give the money back."

Ditto for Gov. Ed Rendell, who accepted at least $115,000 from DeNaples (on Aug. 6 and Aug. 13, 2002). The Patriot News did not state how much Rendell's campaign accepted.

"To this point, Mr. DeNaples stands accused but not convicted," said Chuck Ardo, the governor's spokesman. "It's incumbent on everyone to allow the legal system to work before decisions are made on how to react."

"Certainly, the governor will in no way involve himself with the legal proceedings," Ardo said.

Yeah, right. Ardo forgot to add the phrase "without a 10-foot pole."

In another Patriot News story, state Rep. Will Gabig (R-Carlisle) has called on the gaming board to release its background files on DeNaples.

"Even if Mr. DeNaples' previous felony conviction and his refusal to turn his FBI file over to investigators, as he was required to do so under the law, were not enough to raise questions in board members' minds ... certainly the fact that the board's own investigators believe he lied to them should have been," Gabig said in a statement. "... The board has some explaining to do regarding its decision to grant a license to someone who did not cooperate with their investigation."

It's worse than Gabig knows.

The gaming board never subpoenaed reputed mob boss Billy D'Elia, whose long friendship with DeNaples is what sparked the perjury charges in the first place. D'Elia's attorney said he would have been more than willing to testify.

Second, the board knew about but ignored an incident in which DeNaples was accused of selling at least one of 30 Hurricane Katrina-wrecked tractor-trailers for over-the-road hauling, rather than as scrap.

And who appointed the Gaming Control Board members in the first place? Why it was Rendell along with legislatives leaders in the state House and the Senate, many of whom also accepted campaign contributions from DeNaples.


For more about Louis DeNaples and to read my complete take on this long-predicted Slotsylvania snafu, click here.

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