It started with a clandestine deal to build a politically-motivated criminal case against Democrats, who’d recently taken the majority in the House. It led to a three-year delay in taking a child rapist off the street. And House Republicans appear willing to go down with the ship to protect their captain’s secrets.
Yesterday, Rep. Tim Briggs attempted to use a parliamentary maneuver to force the House to vote on a resolution calling for a review of Tom Corbett’s shockingly lengthy investigation of child rapist Jerry Sandusky. Rather than follow procedure and debate HR 520, which Republicans have kept bottled up in committee for nearly a year, Speaker Sam Smith abruptly shut down proceedings and House Republicans fled the chamber. Now with a solid majority in the House, Republicans have more than enough votes to defeat the resolution and maintain their wall of silence on the politics behind Corbett’s inexcusable delay.
But despite trotting out their spokesman to make their lame excuses, Republicans don’t have the courage of their purported conviction. If HR 520 is bad policy, as their spokesman claims, why not simply vote it down and move on? Because Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly disapprove of the way Corbett handled the Sandusky case, and they desperately want answers to the questions behind the years-long delay. The conundrum House Republicans now face is how to protect their party’s leader from scrutiny that would reveal Corbett’s shockingly self-serving and callous motivation for putting the investigation of a child rapist on the back burner, while still protecting themselves from consequences of an unpopular vote. But, as the song goes: if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. A vote to kill the resolution probably would’ve made House Republicans appear slightly less ridiculous than fleeing the chamber in terror did. In March 2009, when the original Sandusky complaint landed on Corbett’s desk, the Office of Attorney General was reeling from the public revelation of a “smoking gun” email implicating House Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese in awarding taxpayer-funded bonuses for campaign work. Any examination of Corbett’s actions at that point in history would inevitably lead to the reason why DeWeese had not been charged in the “Bonusgate” scandal - a shady “negotiation” between Corbett and DeWeese that resulted in DeWeese turning over thousands of documents and e-mails and abandoning a legal crusade to quash subpoenas and exclude evidence in the case. DeWeese previously had vowed to fight “all the way to the Supreme Court” and the legal wrangling could’ve taken a year or more. In 2007, Corbett made a political decision to spare DeWeese in the “Bonusgate” investigation so he could make a splashy indictment in time for the 2008 elections. In 2009, Corbett made a political decision to pursue DeWeese - instead of Sandusky - so he could make a splashy indictment in time for the 2010 election. As a result of those political decisions, a child rapist remained on the street for years. Whether Corbett ever has to face the consequences of his craven self-dealing depends in part upon the willingness of House Republicans to continue to act as human shields.
The decision to pursue alleged political malfeasance or a serial child rapist should have been an easy one—Tom Corbett opted for the former for no other reason than partisan political gain. FLOP > FLOC.