Commonwealth of Corruption: More DeWeeses?
The sad saga of “Pennsylvania, Commonwealth of Corruption,” is one chapter longer with the sentencing of former state House Speaker Bill DeWeese on public corruption charges. But Keystone State residents can only wonder how many more chapters of that saga remain to be written.
The Greene County Democrat, 62, was sentenced to up to five years in prison and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and $116,000 in restitution last week. But considering he could be paroled after less than two years behind bars, that’s a slap on the wrist for a verbose and self-serving “public servant” found guilty of theft, conspiracy and conflict of interest for using his staff to campaign on the taxpayers’ dime.
Oh, yes, Mr. DeWeese’s conviction also will cost him his $2.8 million-plus state pension. But that’s still not punishment enough, considering how obdurately oblivious DeWeese is to his egregious betrayal of the public’s trust.
Despite overwhelming evidence, DeWeese maintains he’s innocent, says he’ll appeal, waited until just before sentencing to resign from the House, remained on the primary ballot — unopposed — and remains a candidate in the November election. This, despite state law barring felons from House seats (and no legislator convicted of a felony being elected in three decades).
How many more thieves like DeWeese are there in Harrisburg? Sadly, tragically, we suspect there are more. And the place for them when they are caught should be the same place Bill DeWeese is headed — to prison, but for a much longer term.