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by Paul R. Hollrah, ©2014
(Mar. 31, 2014) — Having begun my career as a lobbyist under the dome of the state capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, I know a thing or two about political corruption in the Keystone State and the City of Brotherly Love… I’ve seen it “up close and personal.” So it came as no surprise when the Philadelphia Inquirer published a story on March 16, detailing the results of a sting operation launched in 2010 under then-Pennsylvania attorney general, now governor, Tom Corbett.
However, to fully understand the evolution of the sting operation it is necessary to begin at the very beginning. The central character in the sting is a man named Tyron B. Ali, age 40, an immigrant from the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad. Ali is the owner of a day-care center in North Philadelphia and a registered lobbyist in Harrisburg.
Ali first came to the attention of law enforcement officials in April 2009 when he was arrested in connection with a $430,000 fraud. According to the Inquirer, Ali was accused of submitting phony invoices and forging hundreds of bank statements, tax forms, and paychecks in a Pennsylvania program designed to aid low-income families and seniors. State prosecutors were also aware that, in order to circumvent statutory campaign contribution limits, Ali was found to have been lining up illegal “straw” contributions for the campaign of Daniel D. McCaffery, a Democratic candidate for Philadelphia DA, now a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge.
In that case, campaign finance records showed that four contributions of $2,500 each were made to the McCaffery campaign, all from associates of Ali. However, at about the same time that Ali delivered the four checks to the McCaffery campaign, McCaffery staffers learned of Ali’s arrest in the unrelated fraud case. McCaffery’s campaign manager telephoned the four donors and one admitted that the money was not his; the money was Ali’s.
Then, in a surprising move for a Democrat, McCaffery reported the violations to attorney general Tom Corbett, a Republican, and promptly refunded the illegal contributions. It was then that a top prosecutor, Frank Fina, chief of the attorney general’s Public Corruption section (who earlier led the criminal investigation of Penn State assistant head football coach, Jerry Sandusky), was assigned to handle the Ali investigation. In the hope of receiving a more lenient outcome in his fraud indictment, Ali agreed to assist Fina’s investigation into widespread official corruption by wearing a body wire.
In order to keep Ali from “wandering off the reservation,” the attorney general assigned a 24-year veteran of the attorney general’s office to serve as his driver and constant companion. In the eighteen-month period between October 13, 2010 and April 23, 2012, Ali produced some 400 hours of audio and video recordings detailing 113 conversations with Pennsylvania political figures, Republicans and Democrats. And although Ali dangled inducements before a great many politicians of both political parties, only four Democratic lawmakers and a Philadelphia traffic court judge took the bait.
Rep. Louise Bishop took $1,500; Rep. Vanessa Brown took $4,000; Rep. Michelle Brownlee took $3,500; Rep. Ronald G. Waters accepted multiple gifts totaling $7,650; and Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes received a Tiffany bracelet. All are Democrats, all are from Philadelphia (representing precincts that gave not one single vote to Mitt Romney in 2012), and all are African-Americans.
According to the Inquirer, “Things were going so well that, in the summer of 2012, prosecutors considered setting Ali up in a fancy lobbying office near the Capitol. The plan was to rig the office with hidden cameras and expand the hunt…” However, before they could implement the plan, Pennsylvanians went to the polls and elected Democrat Kathleen Kane as attorney general. Within days after taking office Kane brought the investigation to an abrupt halt.
Thumbing through the Democrat Party playbook, Kane found that the simplest and easiest ploy to support her brazenly partisan contempt for the rule of law would be to do what Democrats always do when they find themselves without a plausible argument: she threw down the race card. In a statement to the Inquirer on Friday, March 14, Kane called the investigation “poorly conceived, badly managed, and tainted by racism,” saying it had “targeted African Americans.”
In truth, what motivated Kane was the need to keep Philadelphia’s black voters on the Democrat political plantation. It just wasn’t smart politics for a Democrat attorney general to prosecute four black Democrat lawmakers and a black Democrat judge for accepting bribes, even though most of their crimes were caught on audio and/or video tape.
The Inquirer report reminded readers that, during her 2012 campaign for attorney general, Kane had been critical of what she felt was the slow pace of the Sandusky investigation at Penn State. Once elected, she hired a former Philadelphia federal prosecutor to investigate Fina’s handling of the case. After a full year of investigating the investigation, Kane declared that her investigation was taking longer than she had anticipated.
In Democrat-speak, that is another way of saying that it takes a lot longer to uncover Republican wrongdoing when there is no wrongdoing to be uncovered. But that doesn’t normally stop Democrats when they’re out to find dirt on Republicans. According to the Inquirer, within hours after taking office, when Fina was in his last week on the job, Kane sent technicians into his office on a “black bag” mission, after working hours, for the purpose of removing the hard drive from his computer… apparently in the faint hope of finding some usable tidbit of damning evidence relating to his conduct of the Sandusky case.
If nothing else, the mess in Pennsylvania is a perfect example of what happens when the people elect Democrats to public office. Since the publication of the Inquirer story on March 16, the Democrat Party has been hit by a long list of scandals, from New York to California, where State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), an outspoken foe of 2nd Amendment gun rights, has been charged with multiple offenses, including charges relating to illegal gun trafficking.
But the biggest Democrat fish caught in the corruption net is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)… the most despicable Democrat in a long list of despicable Democrats. Reid is charged with digging into his campaign chest to give his granddaughter, Ryan Elizabeth Reid, a gift of $17,000, even though she is an aspiring actress in New York and did no useful work for the Reid campaign. Several members of Congress have gone to prison for committing similar crimes. It remains to be seen how “Dingy Harry” manages to slither out of this predicament.
This is not to say that there is not an occasional rotten apple in the Republican barrel, but in all my years as a lobbyist and as a political operative I have found very few Republicans who’ve demonstrated the sort of moral and ethical lapses that we regularly see among Democrats. During my years in the political arena I can recall only two instances in which I was solicited for a bribe. The first was a member of the Kentucky State Senate and the second was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Both were Democrats. My immediate response in both instances was, “I’m sorry, but we just don’t work that way.”
I have long felt that it is impossible to be elected to public office as a Democrat without first making a deal with the devil. And while there exists a single common thread of ideology that binds all Republicans… of all ages, races, creeds, professions, and economic status… the same is not true of Democrats. The Democrat Party is a coalition of special interests, each of which demand something specific, and quite different, from government.
For example, when a Democrat candidate appears before a black audience, his/her stance on quality education must be vastly different from the message he/she delivers before an audience of unionized public school teachers. And when that same politician campaigns before a group of radical environmentalists, his/her message on issues such as the Keystone XL pipeline must be vastly different from the message he/she would deliver before a roomful of blue collar workers.
In order to be successful as a Democratic candidate it is absolutely essential to have a separate position on all of the major issues for each of the party’s many constituencies, and to remember without fail which lies you’ve told to each of them. It is such a flexible moral compass… standard equipment for all Democrats… that made it possible for all those members of the Pennsylvania Black Caucus to succumb so easily to Mr. Ali’s proffered goodies.
But all is not lost; the Pennsylvania bribery sting may yet have a silver lining. It is possible that the greatest beneficiary of the Black Caucus political scandal will be Republican governor Tom Corbett. As matters now stand, Corbett’s approval rating is somewhere in the mid-30s and his reelection chances appear to be in a bit of trouble. But when the Democrats choose a candidate from among seven candidates running in the May primary, that candidate will be called upon to defend attorney General Kane and the bribe takers of the Black Caucus. Yes, the fish does rot from the head and it’s clear that Barack Obama’s Chicago-style politics has infected Democrats all across the country… just in time to backfire on the Democrat Party and its candidates in November.
Camden, NJ – Mayor Dana Redd; Flint, MI – Mayor Dayne Walling; Detroit, MI – Mayor Dave Bing/Mike Duggan; Oakland, CA – Mayor Jean Quan; St. Louis, MO – Mayor Francis Slay; Cleveland, OH – Mayor Frank Jackson; Gary, IN – Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson; Newark, NJ – Mayor Corey Booker/Luis Quintana; Bridgeport, CT – Mayor Bill Finch; Birmingham, AL – Mayor William A. Bell.