Bonusgate could affect campaign for governor
Public Opinion Online
With all the attention heaped on Gov. Ed Rendell and an utter failure of a budgetprocess, it's easy to forget that ambitious new players are already jockeying to run thestate's executive branch.Hard to imagine, we know, but Rendell's days are numbered, and it's not too early tostart looking for clues as to what to expect from the people lining up to replace him.One of them, at least, seems aware that an appearance of impropriety providescampaign fodder.Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach this week launched his campaign for governor bycalling upon Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett to resign his post or quit his owngubernatorial campaign.Why? Well, aside from setting up a primary contest for the Republican nomination,Gerlach seems concerned that Corbett is running for governor while percolating ahighly-publicized but politically lopsided investigation into the official corruption knownas the Bonusgate scandal.For about 30 months now, Corbett has been probing allegations that legislative stafferstook state money to campaign for their bosses during the 2006 elections, when manylawmakers lost their seats in the wake of the 2005 pay raise debacle.In those 30 months, Corbett has charged 13 people in connection with case -- threelawmakers and 10 legislative staffers. And now, the big reveal: All are Democrats.For well over a year, Corbett has been promising additional results from an ongoinginvestigation into the 2006 campaign behavior of the Republican caucuses.Gerlach thinks Corbett's juggling opens the door for politics to influence a criminalinvestigation, or vice versa. He also said Corbett's campaign is "trying to gain supportfrom folks who might be part and parcel of the (Bonusgate probe)," according to aCapitolwire.com account of Gerlach's Wednesday conference call with state politicalreporters.We're guessing Corbett might soon put this to rest by announcing some kind of development in his Bonusgate probe of his fellow Republicans.