Rendell cabinet officer, top PA Dem lawmaker face charges
Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has charged state Rep. Bill DeWeese, a top-ranking Democratic leader for decades, and Gov. Ed Rendell's former Revenue Secretary, Stephen Stetler, with theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest charges.
This is the third round of charges in what has been known as "Bonusgate," a wide-ranging investigation of corruption centered in the Pennsylvania Legislature.
DeWeese, who has served in the House since 1976, including a lengthy term as Democratic floor leader and a term as Speaker of the House, has repeatedly denied any knowledge or involvement in "Bonusgate," which involved paying millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bonus money to Democrats for political work on state time.
The charges against Stetler are related to his previous service in the state House, according to The Associated Press. He resigned as Rendell's Revenue Secretary Tuesday morning in anticipation of the criminal charges, the wire service reported.
If you want to compare "Bonusgate" to "Watergate," the filing of criminal charges against DeWeese is akin to charges against Richard Nixon. Previous indictment's involved all the men and women around DeWeese. This time, a grand jury has found evidence of alleged criminal activity directly tied to DeWeese, the big fish in Attorney General Tom Corbett's corruption net.
From a press release issued today by Pennsylvania Attorney General on criminal charges filed against a top Democratic leader in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and a cabinet member in Gov. Ed Rendell's administration:
HARRISBURG - As part of an ongoing public corruption investigation into the Pennsylvania Legislature, agents from the Attorney General's Public Corruption Unit today filed criminal charges against Representative H. William DeWeese, of Greene County, and former Representative and state Department of Revenue Secretary Stephen Stetler, of York County. Also charged is DeWeese district aide Sharon Rodavich.
Attorney General Tom Corbett said the charges are part of an ongoing grand jury investigation into the misuse of public resources and employees for campaign purposes in the Pennsylvania Legislature.
Evidence of the defendants' alleged criminal activity was placed before a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended that Corbett file criminal charges.