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The Pennsylvania Progressive

Corbett Accused of Compiling Political Enemies List on State Time

by: John Morgan

Mon Sep 10, 2012 at 15:27:31 PM EDT


The American Working Families Action Fund is accusing Gov. Tom Corbett of using state time, staff and resources, the very crimes for which he prosecuted and imprisoned legislators and staffers during BonusGate, to compile a political enemies list.  They accuse Dennis Roddy, a Corbett communications staffer, of to research the members of the facebook page for the group which has been highly critical of the Governor.  He then posted political comments at PoliticsPA, a political blog, on state time.

In a press release this morning American Working Families Action Fund said this:

POLITICAL WORK BEING DONE AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE
DIRECTLY INSIDE PA GOVERNOR TOM CORBETT'S OFFICE

American Working Families (AWF) Action Fund has learned that an employee working inside the office of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett had researched the backgrounds of people who appeared in our organization's Facebook page.  Dennis Roddy, who is a Corbett communications staffer, used some of that research to post political comments on a blog dedicated to politics while apparently working on state time.  Additionally, Roddy, in his official capacity as a spokesman for Governor Corbett distributed the information that he had gathered to a reporter at the same blog where he later posted comments.   (source: http://www.politicspa.com/grou...

While it is appropriate for the governor's office to respond to the issues our organization has raised about the administration's record it is entirely inappropriate for a state employee on state time and using taxpayer-funded resources to conduct political opposition research and to post political statements on a blog dedicated to politics. We view this as a taxpayer-funded act of political intimidation.

Roddy's action of doing a background check on people and an organization critical of the administration's record concerns us that the governor's office is compiling an enemies list.  We are also concerned that Pennsylvania people who "liked" our Facebook page have been or continue to be subjects of taxpayer-funded background checks.  At the very least, the governor's office should disclose exactly what actions have been taken and release all documents and phone records related to this research.

The political nature of the governor's office has been transparent to our organization ever since we first aired ads critical of the administration.  Previously, yet another spokesperson for the governor chose to make political and personal attacks on our organization's chairperson.  To date no one within Tom Corbett's administration has responded appropriately to the actual issues raised.  Now Roddy's conduct goes well beyond an incidental political comment in response to official matters.   Opposition research is clearly not appropriate when carried out by a state employee on state time.

Pennsylvania people should be troubled to learn that politics is being played on state time at taxpayer expense from inside the governor's office.  They should also be alarmed that the governor allows a culture to exist where employees feel free to engage in such political acts.  The governor's political operation should reside at his campaign headquarters or at the Pennsylvania Republican Party where it is funded by private donations instead of by taxpayers.

We are hopeful that this most recent episode will spur the state's media to ask more questions and to demand more documents from the governor's office.  What deserves to be learned is the scope of political work being done on state time from within the walls of Tom Corbett's own office.

Gov. Corbett has been accused of hypocrisy before for using state cell phones for political purposes while running for Governor.  This would, if true, put him in the exact same position as all those he prosecuted as Attorney General for using taxpayer funded state personnel and resources for political purposes.  Under the Corbett plan he would go to state prison for this.  Interestingly perhaps the worst cases of all of the public corruption in Harrisburg involved the Orie sisters.  Sen. Jane Orie is now sitting in state prison and Janine and Justice Joan Orie Melvin sit in the dock awaiting trial.  Tom Corbett missed them amidst allegations he was only interested in prosecuting Democrats.  Allegheny County found and prosecuted the Republican Ories.

Corbett infamously investigated the website CasablancaPA as it began attacking him for hypocrisy during BonusGate.  He allegedly dug and dug trying to discover who was behind the anonymous blog.

Roddy posted the following comments (time stamped as being done during the work day):

POLITICAL COMMENTS POSTED BY DENNIS RODDY ON POLITICSPA.COM DURING THE WORK-DAY:

(source: http://www.politicspa.com/grou...

1.
Dennis Roddy on September 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm said:
Why doesn't somebody ask Bud Jackson about Bartley Keane?

2.
Dennis Roddy on September 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm said:
Bill DeWeese and Mike Veon aren't the first clients on whom Bud Jackson has cut-and-run. He advised Roland Burris in Illinois and, when scandal broke out, Bud broke into a run:
http://capitolfax.com/2009/02/...

3.
Dennis Roddy (Governor's Office) on September 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm said:
Another Bud Jackson fun-fact: He is using stock photos of models for some of his "American Working Families" promotion. The photo was taken by Chris Futcher in his studio in Ontario.
Futcher verifies: the models are all Canadians. That's right. Bud Jackson is using stock photos of Canadians and passing them off as "America's Working Families."
With that kind of attention to detail, you have to wonder who's bankrolling Bud Jackson's freelance campaign against Tom Corbett.

4.
Dennis Roddy (Governor's Office) on September 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm said:
Hi Kevin.
Opposition research? Hardly.We were fielding questions about these ads when they started and immediately set out to figure out who and what we were answering. Bud has left quite a trail.
There is nothing inappropriate about responding to falsehoods and unwarranted attacks on Tom Corbett's job as governor. That's why I used my full name and connections.

Their ads must be getting under the infamous thin skin of Governor Gasbag:

Update:  A source reminds me of an article published by the Post-Gazette and co-written by Dennis Roddy condemning Democrats for doing precisely what Roddy just did himself.

I'm also remembering how the PG kept getting leaks from inside the Attorney General's supposedly secret grand jury proceedings.  The above linked article is one example.  Roddy was then hired by Gov. Corbett.  People have accused Corbett's office of using Dennis Roddy as a press conduit to get their version of BonusGate information out when it was legally required to be kept secret.  He was then hired on immediately after the Governor took office.  Some call this corruption.

John Morgan :: Corbett Accused of Compiling Political Enemies List on State Time
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