March 19, 2009 HE'S GOT MAIL // DeWeese's latest controversy just stirs up more questions Heather Long Of the Patriot

-News The career of Rep. Bill De Weese, D-Greene, has taken another sad turn. His spokesperson is telling us that DeWeese had staff members respond to e-mails on behalf of the state representative. We are told that the former House majority leader was unaware of all or some of the e-mails he was receiving and unaware of the staff responses. This is just the latest of DeWeese's "I wasn't paying attention, and I was out of the loop" portrait of how he conducted his legislative and leadership responsibilities. Much of this stems from the indictments of his once close ally, former House Whip Mike Veon, his former chief of staff Mike Manzo, Rep. Sean Ramaley, D-Beaver, and nine House Democratic staffers, on charges that millions of dollars of bonuses were given to legislative aides in exchange for campaign work. DeWeese has not been charged and has forcefully said he had no idea what Veon, Manzo -- who has testified that he believed DeWeese knew what was going on -- and others close to him were doing. The latest turn came when The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that a Democratic caucus research analyst sent DeWeese an e-mail that said: "I can't thank you enough for the bonus for campaigning. I am speechless as most of us are." The reply, "UR welcome" came from a staffer and not from the high-ranking legislator, according to DeWeese's spokesperson who added that DeWeese does not remember the exchange. In the end, the facts indeed might be that DeWeese, despite his seniority and leadership positions, really wasn't paying attention all these years. It could indeed be true that he was a leader in name only and left the important details of running the caucus to others. If true, it might keep him out of the legal trouble. But it also would be a sad commentary of a life's work in the hall's of our state Capitol.