As reported in a major area newspaper on Dec. 9, there is currently speculation by those in the know in Harrisburg that grand jury indictments of officials from the patronage haven Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are imminent and that some of the potential impropriety focuses on "pay to play" contracts in the Rendell administration and whether Rendell fundraisers were organized on turnpike grounds with public resources.
Although the matter remains speculative, would anyone be surprised if our former state "leader" Rendell were found to have given a wink and a nod, if not outright encouragement to a violation of ethics and law? I would first note that to my knowledge, Rendell, neither as governor or after his long reign ended, has not ever condemned or criticized any of the many legislative titans that have been convicted of public corruption. Additionally, Mr. Rendell helped former State House kingpin Mike Veon to raise money at a time that he was under a cloud, soon to be tried and convicted of multiple counts of public corruption in two separate trials. Rendell engaged in the unprecedented action for a sitting governor when he went to Federal Court to argue for leniency for his pal, former State Senate kingpin Vincent Fumo, who was infamously quoted as saying that his credo was to use "other people's money." After leaving office, Rendell argued in court on behalf of two additional felons, former State Senator Robert Mellow and former State Representative and Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Chief Stephen Stetler. All of Rendell's friends are currently cooling their heels in jail.
I wonder how the presitigious and prosperous Ballard Spahr law firm, at which Attorney Rendell currently is engaged, feels about one of its members seeking leniency for crooks.
It would seem that if there are to be indictments at the Turnpike Commission, that this would occur soon as acting State Attorney General Linda Kelly shall leave office in January when the newly-elected Kathleen Kane takes over. I believe that if this investigation should be turned over to Attorney Kane that she will run with the ball and prosecute crimes appropriately. Stay tuned!
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