AG Health Care Lawsuit: No Conflict of Interest

Member Group : Freindly Fire

The idiocy of some people never ceases to amaze.

For the latest example, just look how the political hacks reacted to the recent week of Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett.

First, Corbett’s office was successful in prosecuting former state representative Mike Veon and two others in the Bonusgate scandal, bringing the total number of felony convictions in that corruption investigation to ten. Veon and his cronies were convicted on numerous charges related to using taxpayer money for political campaigns.

Taxpayer money is, in fact, the people’s hard-earned cash that is sent to Harrisburg for the purposes of good government. Using it for anything else, especially campaign activities, is an atrocious breach of the public’s trust.
So sending someone like Veon away with a case of Soap-on-a-Rope should be considered a good thing by all sane and rational Pennsylvanians. Score one for the good guys —-us.

Later in the week, Corbett sued the federal government over the passage of health care legislation.

He didn’t do this as a partisan Republican, attacking a Democratic health care bill.

No, his decision was rooted in something much more basic: his belief that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to usurp the rights of the state, and force citizens to purchase health care — or risk fines and jail.

Wow. Call me crazy, but isn’t that what a state Attorney General is supposed to do — protect the citizens of his state from criminals and unconstitutional laws?

One would think that in these two instances, the political opponents of Tom Corbett could put partisan politics aside and compliment the man for a job well done. After all, the business-as-usual approach to government in Pennsylvania — AKA corruption — suffered a major blow, and our state’s citizens finally have someone fighting for them and their interests.

One would be wrong.

Instead, many Democratic leaders sounded the all-too-trite call that Corbett’s actions were a conflict of interest, since he is the leading Republican candidate for governor. This man, they say, is only pursuing these issues to generate favorable headlines and increase name recognition around the state.

How original.

And stupid.

What the Democrats don’t understand is that the more they call attention to Corbett’s actions, the more they lose. Maybe their arguments make the "political insider crowd" happy, but in the real world, where elections are decided, they could not be more off base.

(For more on whether Bonusgate is a fair investigation or politically motivated, watch the author debate the issue on TV’s Business Matters—


I’ll give you one guess who the leading Democrat is calling on Corbett to drop his lawsuit. You got it….Governor Rendell. Our obtuse, and soon to be ex-governor, seems to have nothing better to do than stick his nose where it doesn’t belong.

Rendell’s reasoning is that the health care legislation "will have an enormous positive impact on the lives of every single Pennsylvanian."

When you cut through Rendell’s hyperbole on the issue, it becomes clear that he is willing to allow his constituents’ rights to go by the wayside in the name of yet another big government program.

But this should come as no surprise. It’s been Rendell’s M.O. for his entire tenure as governor.

Failing schools? Throw more and more money at the problem, especially into the deathtrap called Philadelphia. Falling revenues in the state? Take more of the people’s money by raising taxes, and institute widespread gambling. Not enough money for all his pet projects and secretive no-bid contracts to his friends and high-dollar contributors? Recklessly increase the state budget.
Is that how a governor should be doing his job?

It’s kinda funny. Rendell criticizes the Attorney General for doing his job, but sees nothing wrong in piloting the state directly into the iceberg by failing to do his.

Of course, there is also the possibility that Rendell’s motive for challenging Corbett is to protect his protégé — Ed Rendell-lite and leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato.

Anything to hold onto power for the sake of….holding onto power. The Rendell legacy.

Another Democratic genius who weighed in on Corbett’s decision was State House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans, who threatened to "do whatever it takes" to stop the Attorney General.

Incredibly, that meant cutting off all state appropriations to the Office of the Attorney General to prevent Corbett from fighting this legislation. Evans fumed, "He [Corbett] cannot think that he can do whatever he wants with taxpayer money."

I guess Dwight conveniently forgot how Gov. Rendell and the Democrats used a boatload of taxpayer money to promote the health care bill. How’s that for a selective memory?

But much more important, Evans’ threat crossed the line regarding separation of powers. Evans is advocating a process by which, whenever a legislative leader disagrees with an attorney general, he’ll just cut off his funding until the AG falls into line. Hey, why not just issue the same threat for the Bonusgate investigation, since some of Dwight’s friends and colleagues have been ensnared in the corruption probe?

Tom Corbett’s response, for which he should be commended, was quite basic: take your threats and stick ’em where the sun doesn’t shine.

Corbett understands that, regardless of threats, if the attorney general isn’t independent, his office is irrelevant.

Which, by the way, is why we switched from having an appointed AG to an elected one.
Of course, maybe Evans is just upset because the Bonusgate investigation is hitting too close to home, as numerous officials in the Democratic House Caucus have been indicted and convicted.

That’s Dwight Evans for you. Politics at its best.


The very independence that Attorney General Corbett is showing has given Pennsylvanians of all stripes reason to start believing again — reason to think that sound, commonsense policy and good government are achievable in Pennsylvania once more; reason to believe that not all elected officials are in it for personal gain and partisan advantage; and reason to hope that we can turn the ship around.

The fact that the likes of Gov. Rendell and Dwight Evans criticize someone for doing the right thing speaks volumes about what both men’s legacies will be.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau,

Readers of his column, "Freindly Fire," hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller "Catastrophe."

Freind also serves as a weekly guest commentator on the Philadelphia-area talk radio show, Political Talk (WCHE 1520), and makes numerous other television and radio appearances. He can be reached at [email protected]