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

Monday, July 07, 2008
Posted 8:43 PM by

The biggest story never told?

If a Pennsylvania novelist is correct, the state House Majority Leader H. William DeWeese (left) and former House Minority Whip Mike Veon - the two architects of the state's slots law - have both been indicted.Pssst. Hey Slotsylvania, I'm back. No, that isn't the big news. Just thought I'd give myself a plug for a second.

The biggest news story ignored by the state media over the July 4th holiday weekend was the reported indictments of state House Majority Leader H. William "Bill" DeWeese and Mike Veon, a former House Minority Whip and Democratic rat-fucker turned casino and tobacco lobbyist after voters threw him out of office.

So far, blogger and writer Bill Keisling is the only one to have part of the story, noting, "Prosecutors are expected to make public the charges against Majority Leader DeWeese and others within the next week or so."

Guess, they didn't want to interfere with all those good news cycles over the holiday weekend about Pennsylvania leaders actually passing a budget on time for a change. Or step on the tear-stained shoes of departing state Sen. Vince Fumo, who left the public stage last week amid health concerns and a federal indictment of his own to fight.

Of course, that could just be my "the incompetent media is a conspiracy" theory. Nobody else has printed a glimmer about the potential grand jury indictments since last month, according to a Google news search.

But I'm willing to give Keisling the benefit of the doubt on this - and apologize later if need be. The novelist and owner of previously broke the news that Gov. Ed Rendell had secretly hired his former law firm, Ballard Spahr, to handle the closed-door bidding and now-dead long-term leasing of the Turnpike.

According to Keisling, a grand jury investigation into legislative bonuses has blossomed into a wide-ranging inquiry throughout state government.

DeWeese and Veon, the only two nitwits to vote against repealing the 2005 legislative pay raise (before DeWeese caved and left Veon hanging), are probably being named because of allegations they paid taxpayer-funded bonuses to their legislative staffers for performing political work.

If true, the two main architects behind slot machine gambling in Pennsylvania - and the chief forces pushing for full casino gambling - are now both politically tainted. And suddenly, the governor finds himself and his staff answering a lot of tough questions about corruption.

DeWeese has said he acted aboveboard in all matters and expects to be cleared. He has portrayed himself, in public statements and through subordinates, as a hands-off leader who left the details to Veon, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

I should be ecstatic. For years now, I've been calling for someone - preferably the Feds - to do this very same thing. However, I'll stop just short of singing Handel's "Hallelujah!" chorus.

That's because state Attorney General Tom Corbett, the guy who may be driving this freewheeling grand jury with an eye on the governor's chair (You reading me Pat Meehan?), has already painted himself with the same corrupt brush with which Rendell has become a master.

Rendell, a Democrat, and Corbett, a Republican, both accepted large political contributions from Dunmore billionaire and former federal felon Louis DeNaples in the run-up to the awarding of his slots license.

A Dauphin County grand jury indicted DeNaples last year for lying to the state Gaming Control Board about his alleged ties to organized crime figures. The local prosecutor was given Corbett's blessing, even though the state's chief law enforcement officer has a seven-attorney corruption taskforce in part because of legalized slots gambling.

State campaign finance records are shoddy even though they're computerized public records. But my research found Gov. Ed Rendell received at least $115,000 from DeNaples in campaign donations between 2000 and 2004, and Corbett, the state's top prosecutor, accepted at least $35,000.

Spokesmen for both officials have said they won't give the money back unless DeNaples is convicted. Other recipients of DeNaples' contributions included top state lawmakers, party groups and judges.

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