Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Grand jury: Dem leaders illegally targeted Diven - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Shall we all throw a pitty party for Michael Diven?
Grand jury: Dem leaders illegally targeted Diven - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Grand jury: Dem leaders illegally targeted Diven
Poor, poor Michael.

I called Dave Brown of the Trib about this article. It made me giggle.

The Dems picked on Diven. However, Diven's new friends, the Republicans, picked up the fight for him. The Rs and the Ds are both guilty.

Pennsylvania's Attorney General made a big splash recently with his first wave of trouble. His statement was with specifics that included the work of government employees in campaign, including special elections.

I was in a special election right as this was all going down. I ran for PA Senate, 42nd district, as a Libertarian. The opponents were Michael Diven and Wayne Fontana.

On election day, Michael Diven had more than a dozen poll workers who were state senators. Diven and Fontana each spent about $1-Million. But, the bulk of that money did not come from locals. It came from Harrisburg. And, it was PAC money that didn't even pass through the candidate PACs.

Both Fontana and Diven are people that are okay with others pulling strings for them.

The State Attorney also made specific mentions that the state house Dems, state house Republicans as well as the state senate Ds and Rs are all guilty. Both house chambers and both major parties have been breaking the law. Both have been clueless as to fairness for the democratic process.

They are all guilty. And, this isn't news to me.

Another major objection from the recent reports deal with petition challenges of candidates. Diven didn't get onto the ballot for the Republican primary because he had too many dead people sign his papers.

Furthermore, Wayne Fontana's long time buddy was the stooge that filed a petition challenge against me in August of 2006 -- just as Dan Romanelli was in another court room in Harrisburg. Romanelli was the Green Party candidate that the Dems didn't want on the ballot for the US Senate.

The Dem operatives and the fax machine within the office of my PA SENATOR, Wayne Fontana, was used to challenge the petitions on my nomination papers. Those are the same 50 people that were mentioned by the PA Attorney General doing the same hit jobs -- but it was against me, a Libertarian candidate for PA Senate.

I put the proof before the judge in a Harrisburg court room. It was entered into evidence. The judge told me that the materials were very interesting. And, they well suited for another judge on another day.

Now it is time to get back to wallow in the sorrow for Michael Diven.


Anonymous said...

Grand jury: Dem leaders illegally targeted Diven
By David Brown
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

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Former Rep. Michael Diven of Brookline was singled out for defeat by an illegal political machine run by the House Democratic Caucus, according to a state grand jury report.

Diven, who was an outspoken critic of caucus leaders, says the report casts light on how House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese of Greene County and former Democratic House Whip Mike Veon of Beaver Falls came after him with a vengeance.

"I was put in a box by these guys because I didn't do what they told me I had to do in order to get along," Diven said in an interview. "I knew they were out to cut me off at the knees."

The report alleges the caucus used public money -- doled out in bonuses to employees who "volunteered" to help in campaigns -- to support chosen candidates in a number of elections over several years, including Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Rep. Tom Tangretti, D-Hempfield. Onorato and Tangretti said they were unaware legislative staffers were assigned to their campaigns.

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House Democrats, according to the report, sent 170 staffers to Allentown to help Democrat Linda Minger against Republican Rep. Karen Beyer, who won the race. The report said the caucus assigned help to Democrat Shawn Flaherty in his effort to win the post left vacant by Republican Rep. Jeff Habay's conviction on a conflict-of-interest charge for using legislative staff for political work.

Opposing Diven was given special attention, it states.

"Diven had been a thorn in the side of ... DeWeese," states the grand jury presentment, released July 10, which resulted in criminal charges against a dozen people, including Veon, Rep. Sean Ramaley of Economy and former DeWeese chief of staff Mike Manzo.

"Manzo directed that the caucus campaign machine would be sent out to defeat Diven. It did," the grand jury said.

DeWeese has not been charged. He could not be reached for comment.

Diven, a former Pittsburgh councilman elected to the House in 2000, says he first agitated party leaders when he opposed their reapportionment plan that eliminated the House seats of two Allegheny County Democrats who didn't toe the party line.

"They started to wage a campaign against me from that point on," Diven said. "I was one of the few people that stood up and said this is wrong and, for that, they became determined to make an example of me. If they could break me, they would have an easier time of putting other people in line and making sure that nobody challenged how they managed the caucus' resources."

The rift deepened when Diven sent out an e-mail characterizing Democratic leaders as "cowards and thugs."

The grand jury report says the caucus targeted Diven in a 2005 special election for a Senate post -- after he switched to the Republican Party -- and in 2006 when he ran for re-election to his House position. Diven lost both races.

The harassment began earlier, according to Diven.

When he was running for re-election in the 2004 Democratic primary, the caucus recruited a candidate to run against him and pumped money and resources into the challenger's campaign, says Diven, who won that race.

The caucus then cut funding for staff at his district offices, "effectively shutting down the offices," Diven said.

"That was the straw that pushed me out of the Democratic Party," he says.

DeWeese has said the caucus opposed Diven because, even before he switched parties, he often sided with Republicans in the Legislature and opposed measures being pushed by Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.

The House Democratic Caucus sent 17 state employees to help defeat Diven in the Senate race, the grand jury report alleges.

"Most of them used comp time to be away from their legislative desks," it states, adding they all received credit on a special list of "campaign volunteer activity" that resulted in year-end bonuses from taxpayer funds.

State Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, who defeated Diven, said if the House Caucus did that, it was without his knowledge.

"I never talked to Veon. Nobody called me," Fontana said. Had they shown up as volunteers, he wouldn't have recognized them as state employees, he said.

"I wouldn't know any of these guys," Fontana said. "I went out every day and knocked on doors."

Fontana does recall a group of volunteers who helped the campaign in the last couple of weeks.

"My recollection is they were all from the Senate," he said. Fontana said he received assurances the volunteers were not working on the state's dime.

In 2006, Manzo sent Angela Bertugli, a part-time caucus employee, to work in the campaign of Democrat Chelsa Wagner, who won the House seat from Diven, the grand jury report states. Bertugli, allegedly hired because she agreed to have sex with Manzo, went off the state payroll while working in the campaign but retained her benefits, the report adds. Bertugli received $7,065 in state bonuses for 2006.

In response to a request for an interview, Wagner e-mailed a statement referring to an allegation in the grand jury report "that my 2006 primary campaign received a volunteer who at some point was given a bonus for campaign work."

"This is the first that I have heard of this and want to make it clear that at no time did I have any knowledge of any state employee, who may have participated in my campaign, being paid public money for political activity," Wagner said. "Nor do I have any knowledge of any other campaign activity being paid for by taxpayer money."

David Brown can be reached at or 412-380-5614.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Got a reply from the reporter at the Trib.

Hi Mark,

Got your message. I've been up to my ears on another story. I'll be happy to talk with you later about the challenges. Today's story obviously focused on Diven.

Thanks for helping keep us up to date.


Anonymous said...

John K: So you think it is okay to use taxpayer money in a targeted political campaign? Seems you have problems with consistency here Homer.

Mark Rauterkus said...

No. It is not okay to use gov money in campaigns. John K -- get straight.