Corbett's campaign criticized for staffers work The attorney general's office said John Morganelli is playing politics

. By RICHARD FELLINGER Harrisburg bureau Article Last Updated: 07/22/2008 09:46:50 AM EDT

Democratic attorney general candidate John Morganelli blasted incumbent Tom Corbett on Monday for allowing state staffers to do political work for him while prosecuting the notorious "Bonusgate" case. Morganelli called on attorney general staffers who have handled campaign tasks to resign their state jobs, and he urged Corbett to appoint a special prosecutor in the case accusing House Democrats of campaigning with public resources. Corbett's campaign fired back at Morganelli, accusing him of seeking publicity and questioning who's helping with his campaign. Morganelli was responding to a story Sunday in the York Sunday News about several attorney general staffers who have been reimbursed for expenses while helping the Corbett campaign. Among them is Brian Nutt, chief of staff to the attorney general, who took an unpaid leave of absence last month to be Corbett's campaign manager. Kevin Harley, the attorney general's director of communications, has also done political work for Corbett, along with both of Corbett's executive assistants and two top aides in the Office of Legislative Affairs. In Bonusgate, Corbett is prosecuting 12 Democrats in a major case that accuses House staffers of regularly doing political work on the job and top officials of using taxpayer-funded bonuses to reward aides for campaign work. It is illegal to use state resources for campaigns. While Nutt and Harley reiterated Monday that Corbett requires any campaign tasks to be done 0ff the clock, Morganelli said his foe has political operatives on the state payroll and it's "a big blur." "You have to separate the political people from the job," Morganelli said. Morganelli, the Northampton County district attorney, said staffers in his county office do not campaign for him, though he admitted one might have circulated nominating petitions for him in the past.

Morganelli said his campaign manager is Lamont McClure, a Bethlehem lawyer. McClure is also a county councilman in Northampton County. Nutt questioned how McClure separates his county post and campaign duties. "My question would be, 'Where's Mr. McClure doing this?' " Nutt said. Nutt, whose annual salary as chief of staff is $110,000, dismissed the call for his resignation. "It's unfortunate the levels Mr. Morganelli will go to in this campaign," he said. Harley, who earns nearly $110,000 as director of communications, said the call for his resignation is "a desperate attempt by someone trying to get his name in the paper." As for Morganelli's call for a special prosecutor, Harley said state law does not allow it, and "it's obvious John Morganelli doesn't understand the law." A leading political analyst said he's not surprised Corbett is taking heat on the campaign trail for allowing government aides to do political work for him. Political scientist Terry Madonna of Franklin & Marshall College said a prosecutor in Corbett's position needs to take extra steps to be sure he's immune from criticism. "It looks like he made the public-private stuff separate, but it's always an interesting question when you get into this gray area, especially for a prosecutor," Madonna said.

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