As Attorney General, Gov. Tom Corbett cracked down on legislators who used state money to pay campaign staffers. Yet according to Brad Bumsted of the Tribune-Review, records show that as Governor, Corbett has frequently allowed members of his campaign team to attend meetings. This has angered opponents and others who were targets when Corbett was Attorney General.
During his time (2005-2010) as Attorney General, Corbett led a charge that convicted 23 legislative staffers and ex-lawmakers. Now, those who were on the receiving end of Corbett’s crackdown are attacking him for allowing campaign aides into meetings.
Whether Corbett’s actions in allowing campaign aides to attend governmental meetings are illegal, unethical, and hypocritical, or proper, smart, and legal depends on who you ask.
Joel Sansone, who represented former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon, believes there is some hypocrisy in letting campaign members attend the governmental meetings. Veon is serving a six to fourteen-year state prison sentence for felony theft.
“It’s difficult to prove it’s illegal, but it certainly is an appearance of impropriety,” Sansone said.
Bill Fetterhoff, another lawyer who represented others charged by Corbett, said, “People should be judged by the standards by which they judged others. Who cares about this? The people he has crucified for crossing the lines.”
According to Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni, the Governor’s action in allowing campaign aides into meetings was “appropriate and legal.” In addition, campaign manager Mike Barley explains that “there is no tax money involved” in allowing aides to attend gatherings of state officials.
However, the assertion that no state money was involved has not silenced opponents.
“Public resources are not supposed to be used for partisan political purposes,” Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause of Pennsylvania, said. “I think (Corbett) places himself in a position of hypocrisy if he doesn’t apply the same standards to himself (that) he applied to others.”
FreshStartPA, a PAC aligned with the Wolf campaign, hit the incumbent hard after learning of the news.
“Tom Corbett needs to explain why he thinks it is appropriate for him to conduct campaign business in his taxpayer funded office,” Campaign for a Fresh Start spokesman Mike Mikus said. “Given his track record of putting people in jail for the same actions, Tom Corbett needs to explain why he feels that he should be held to a different standard.”
“Despite his efforts to mislead voters, Tom Corbett is just a typical Harrisburg politician who thinks the rules don’t apply to him,” Mikus concluded. “This is just the latest example of why Pennsylvania needs a new Governor.”