That's what the Joker would ask his prey before finishing them off. I wonder whether Senior Deputy AG E. Marc Costanzo poses similar questions to witnesses appearing in his grand jury investigation of Northampton County deceptive campaign practices. That grand jury, incidentally, is meeting somewhere today.
Ever dance with Severson in the pale moonlight?
During Monday's preliminary hearing at Dauphin County prison, Costanzo laid out a prosecution theory that hones in on a web of deceit - a conspiracy to keep the public in the dark about Severson's involvement in various political campaigns. Severson had told his staff that Democrats asked him to disguise his involvement in their campaigns, but the candidates called so far vociferously deny that. "Absolutely not," is how Bethlehem City Council Prez Bob Donchez responded to a question asking whether he had asked Severson to prepare bogus invoices. Costanzo calls them "unwitting" co-conspirators who unknowingly and innocently deceived the public. But what about those candidates who knew all about Severson's scheme to keep the public in the dark?
Ever dance with Severson in the pale moonlight?
Let's go back to 2003, when Paula Roscioli desperately wanted to trade in her Assistant DA's badge for a judge's black robe. Local Republicans got wind she was using Scissorhands Severson as her campaign consultant. In fact, her boss - DA John Morganelli - had just paid Severson $9,600 in dirty drug money for 20,000 newsletters. Naturally, those included portrait of Roscioli quadruple the size of other pictures.
When Express Times reporter Joe Carlson asked whether she was using Severson, Roscioli gave two answers. First, it would be a "poor strategic decision" to identify a consultant before being required to file campaign finance reports. Second, "I'm running my own campaign." Morganelli backed her up, denying that Severson's Precision Marketing was involved. "They're not allowed to do Democratic candidates. They can only do Republicans."
Were Roscioli and Morganelli dancing with Severson in the pale moonlight?
It sure looks that way. According to available campaign finance reports, Roscioli made seventeen payments to MJR Services, totalling $105,252.06. This is one of the shells Severson used to deceive the public concerning his involvement in political campaigns. Roscioli and Morganelli were obviously well aware that Severson's involvement in Democratic campaigns was quite controversial. Morganelli himself went along with paying his own MJR bills the previous year. They went along with a Severson scheme to hide his involvement from local Republicans. In the process, they deceived the public.
Fast forward from 2003 to 2007. LongDems desperately wanted to rid Northampton County Council of Ron Angle, once and for all.
Did LongDems start dancing with Severson in the pale moonlight, too?
In July, Severson began his dirty work with a push poll. Telephone calls from 484-548-6413 asked whether voters would be less likely to vote against Angle if they knew certain negative things about him, which were listed, one by one. Although this poll has been estimated to cost $3,000, its cost is listed nowhere in any campaign finance reports. But that telephone exchange has been used by Severson to conduct political polling and robo calls.
The next month, Charles Dertinger bought a postal permit for the Northampton County Democratic party, which was subsequently used by Severson for vicious smear mailers against Ron Angle and Peg Ferraro. They were also besieged by anonymous robocalls like this one from 484-548-6400 and 484-548-6413, the same number that had been used for the July push poll. It also is the same exchange Lamont McClure used for his robo calls. His consultant? Tom Severson.
In October, Lamont McClure handed Steve Barron, who was then Northampton County Democratic Party Treasurer, a $12,000 bill from Political Strategies, another shell Severson used to deceive the public concerning his involvement in political campaigns. McClure provided detailed instructions about how that bill was to be paid and how in-kind contributions were to be noted. But when Barron asked McClure to identify Political Strategies, all Lamont would say was that it is a consulting company. Barron later reviewed bank statements, and learned that checks to Political Strategies were being deposited by Severson's Precision Marketing.
Bossman Joe Long was similarly secretive about Political Strategies and the smear campaign being engineered against Angle and Ferraro. In fact, when The Morning Call condemned the anonymous robocalls, Long quickly responded with his typical threats in a letter to the editor. "This borders on libel and slander," he huffed. "[T]o my knowledge, the Northampton County Democratic Party has not made any so-called negative robocalls."
Long was clearly trying to hide Severson's involvement in the failed smear campaign against Angle and Ferraro. Long, McClure and Dertinger were clearly dancing with Severson in the pale moonlight, conspiring to keep the public in the dark.
Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? It sure looks like Deputy AG Costanzo will be posing that question to Roscioli, Morganelli, Long, McClure and Dertinger.