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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Source: Flipped Fleck Was Wired For 90 Days

By now, many of you have seen The Morning Call story citing anonymous sources to report that former political consultant Michael Fleck secretly recorded conversations in what increasingly appears to be a pay-to-play investigation. Ironically, I heard a similar story yesterday from a law enforcement source with ties to the Allentown office of the FBI. I was told a few things I don't see in The Morning Call story, and their story reveals a few things I had not heard.

What Morning Call Sources Say

From The Morning Call story, we know that they are relying on anonymous sources (that's plural). I have just one. Their sources say that Fleck recorded meetings with his customers and with Mayor Edwin Pawlowski.

What My Source Says
  • Fleck was wired for 90 days.
  • He recorded conversations for at least 30 fund raisers and over 100 meetings.
  • They have many hours of taped conversation. 
  • They know where he is in Georgia, and it's within spitting distance of a field office.
When I first head this story,  my question was whether I could rely on just one source. After discussing it with Michael Molovinsky, I decided to go ahead with it and just make sure you were aware I was relying on just one source. Then the Morning Call story appeared. I realized what is going on. The only reason The Morning Call or I have this story is because the FBI want us to have it.

They are shaking the trees to see if any ripe apples fall.

This also tells me three things about their case. First, it is very much a pay-to-play investigation, and is looking into Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and Reading Mayor Spencer Vaughn. Second, the FBI insisted that Fleck wear a wire because recordings will corroborate what he says when he testifies. Finally, by using a bad guy to get other bad guys, they are possibly setting up a defense of entrapment for some targets.

The Ruchlewicz connection

I also learned yesterday that in April, feds were visiting neighbors of Sam Ruchlewicz, a Fleck partner at his business consulting firm. His Twitter account states, "Government, Politics, Business -- They all meet with me."

That might be one of his problems.

You see, in addition to acting as a political consultant for candidates seeking elected office, Fleck also acted as a "consultant" for private businesses seeking an inside track with the very people that Fleck would help elect.

Though there is no law barring this practice, Common Cause Pa Exec Director Barry Kauffman warned that it invites mischief.
"What you have to be cautious about, in this case the campaign manager is obviously a very influential person. ... The mayor needs to be cautious the campaign manager doesn't try to influence public policy decisions and serve as a conduit for major businesses who end up being campaign donors."
Fleck told The Morning Call that he keeps his business and political consulting in two different worlds, a point that was confirmed by Mayor Edwin Pawlowski.

But a campaign finance report filed by the Citizens For a Greater Reading PAC.tells a completely different story.

First, it was filed by Ruchlewicz, who was supposed to be in the business, and not political, consulting world.

Second, the $33,260 in contributions include people with no connection to Reading. Why would Sean Kilkenny, who is running for Sheriff in Montgomery County, donate $5,000 to a reading-based PAC? Why would Abe Atiyeh, who had hired Fleck and Ruchlewicz as business consultants, donate $2,000 to a reading PAC?

Third, business consultant Ruchlewicz walked away with $1,200. Fleck's H Street Strategies' take was $10,000, nearly a third of the money contributed.

Major businesses with City and NIZ contracts have been big campaign contributors. J.B. Reilly, Sean Boyle and Abe Atiyeh bankrolled a Pawlowski and Fleck inspired effort to get rid of Mayor Ed Hozza in Allentown,

The business and political consulting obviously merged.

78 comments:

Anonymous said...

If Molovinsky is your editor on stories to run with sources or not...your compass is very broken.

Bernie O'Hare said...

An anonymous troll is no authority on a moral compass.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to thank you and MM for your fine work and your ability to consistently scoop the MCall
and other media.
Well done gentlemen.

Anonymous said...

Boy, they really hate it, and you, when you're right.
Congratulations on a job well done.

Anonymous said...

12:47AM - please take some medication and go to bed.

Anonymous said...

This is all fascinating. This Ruchlewicz was Fleck's right hand man. He was joined at the hip with McNeil in his run for the state house first time and most say since. The guy was said to have "handled" everything. he was with Fleck early on.

The entire episode will play out. Feck was mentored by Hickey, Ruchlewicz was mentored by Fleck. Who else is lurking out there?

Who are all the players? Will some of the "I know nothing" crowd like Muller, Cunningham and Iannelli be involved. This is like a Lehigh Valley soap opera.

Wasn't there another political consultant form this area that went to jail some years back?

Bill said...

Bernie, you have provided stellar coverage on this topic for a long time. As far as this whole mess is concerned, I could care less about the soap opera qualities of this saga. I do care about what it all means for residents of the city and the region. It is increasingly clear to me we have not been fairly represented by our elected officials for quite some time now. What will happen if this ends up meeting the criteria for honest service fraud? I reflect back and wonder how votes like the water privatization deal would have ended up had this increasingly clear "pay to play" dynamic played out for the benefit of a few at the expense of the masses.

Do we have any recourse as citizens? What is the likelihood that as a result of all this crap that we end up with transparent and accountable local government? To quote an old movie, Network "I am mad as Hell and I am not going to take it anymore".

Reality Bites said...

Interesting post. Thank you for informing us of what may be happening.

I wonder if Ed was taught all this at the Moody Bible Institute ?

Anonymous said...

Why would someone like McNeil need a sleaze ball consultant when there are maybe 3 r's in his district?

Anonymous said...

Wanted to use Fleck in his vendetta against Hozza

Anonymous said...

If I were Fleck, I too would move out of the area. He has to be a marked man. To carry a wire for all these months, He isn't hiding from the media. He is in a witness protection program.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there another political consultant form this area that went to jail some years back?

Yes. Michael Solomon who was a former top adviser to Northampton County Executive Glenn Reibman.

Anonymous said...

Like the Walls of Jericho, or Lehigh Parkway, it all comes a tumblin' down.

Anonymous said...

This is beginning to sound a bit RICO-ish.

Anonymous said...

Is there a flow chart with how everybody is tied together in this?

Anonymous said...

Great movie plot. Who will be cast as the King ??

Anonymous said...

Nary a mention to Topper, the super rich guy, in all of this.

Anonymous said...

Danny Davito will reprise his Penguin character to portray Mayor Pawlowski. Dead-on ringer.

Anonymous said...

Fleck is a snake in the grass. Pawlowski is a fool for trusting that scum bag. Now he will pay the price.

Anonymous said...

Nick Nolty as the Fleckster.....

Anonymous said...

Wow... This thing keeps getting deeper and deeper. I agree with your thought, the FBI is managing this to see what else happens and what else is learned. I wonder if anyone else has reached out to them to potentially cooperate?

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Edwin & Michael were perfect dance partners.
There are no victims here.

Anonymous said...

it never ceases to amaze me what a near bankrupt media outlet will do to boost sales...their "sources " are unnamed, as are yours, but we cant expect ethical reporting from such an unsuccessful, miserable little man

this gaggle of show clowns have nothing better to do then make things up as they go along.....

Anonymous said...

Just researched some pay to play convictions and the sentences ranged from 10 - 21 years. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

The Mcall is trying to save face from all of the fluff pieces they ran. Bernie is a true journalist and reports facts not fluff. Good job bernie

Anonymous said...

it never ceases to amaze me what a near bankrupt media outlet will do to boost sales...their "sources " are unnamed, as are yours, but we cant expect ethical reporting from such an unsuccessful, miserable little man 9:37 AM
It never ceases to amaze me the effort you go to to try to disparage a reporter. Someone peed in your vodka again? Spend you day off resting your feet and doing something useful - like learning how to use apostrophes.

Chris Casey said...

Wired for 90 days. So the thought that he was originally bagged around St. Patrick's day (Long before the Primary) seems about right. I believe that is also before Ed P announced his Senate campaign. Be interesting to find out if Feds encouraged Mr Fleck to urge the Mayor on. We really need a flow chart to figure it all out, but you can pretty much see that the flow was basically the people of Allentown getting a golden Shower.

Anonymous said...

Anon "Wasn't there another political consultant form this area that went to jail some years back?"

4:20 AM

Answer - Mike Solomon

Anonymous said...

Those Mayors are shaking in their boots.

Anonymous said...

FBI is ratcheting up the pressure by seeing who's going to sweat and come in and chat to make a deal. It's classic prisoners dilemma strategy.

It's like an APB to everyone and every company on that subpoena list.

That subpoena list is a start by the way. New evidence will generate an additional list. It's not like the FBI can't come back to Allentown. For that reason it's naive of outlets like the Morning Call and some already being investigated to suggest the NIZ and its board members aren't part of it.

The federal government hasn't gotten to that point.

Anonymous said...

Pawlowski endorsed McNeill. McNeill and Palagonia endorsed Pawlowski. Pawlowski, McNeill, and Palagonia endorsed McCord (we know how that ended). Pawlowski and McNeill endorse Palagonia during the Whitehall takeover attempt. Hozza would not march to Pawlowski's tune so he needed a yes man in Whitehall.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the PLA is tied into this?

Anonymous said...

Subpoena:

http://www.wfmz.com/blob/view/-/34155852/data/3/-/fv0blsz/-/Allentown-FBI-Right-to-Know.pdf

EastonPD said...

Lehigh Valley Rats List:
Mike Fleck

Anonymous said...

If the Lehigh Valley ever gets a legitimate local newspaper operation again, it should hire Bernie. This is the kind of reporting people are always willing to pay for.

Anonymous said...

A couple of young state reps. are going to be looking for work.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to note that it says on the subpeonia:

Grand Jury No: 2013-00517

So would this investigation been under way for well over a year?

Anonymous said...

Northeast Revenue has the Lehigh County delinquent tax business as of this year.

Anonymous said...

A couple of young state reps will be working in the laundry at Club Fed.

M. Dierdre Fleck said...

The "M" stands for "Memorex"

Anonymous said...

I've done a little time with guys who did fed time. They said they would rather do a state sentence over a federal sentence any day. They can ship you all over the country if they need warm bodies somewhere. Have fun guys and remember to keep your butt checks tight

Anonymous said...

@7:13

Highly doubt Fleck is in Witness Protection. If he were, no law enforcement source would be revealing that he's within spitting distance of an FBI Field Office in Georgia. And if he were in Witness Protection, Fleck would likely have to move after such a revelation.

Anonymous said...

No, 9:30 AM Will Farrell has to be cast as the Fleckster. A clown must portray a clown.

Anonymous said...

Former Harrisburg Mayor just got blasted with corruption charges today. Reading, PA Mayor likely to be caught on something through Fleck. Pawlowski sweating profusely, no doubt.
Magnify this across the entire country, and this could be good news for elevating the reputation of used car salesmen.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. IF Pawlowski is charged and/or is forced to resign, then I think Affa, Glazier, Koval, Mathison, Thiel and Martinez should all pull out of the City Council/City Controller/ASD elections since their campaigns were managed and financed through Fleck & Pawlowski. They would owe it to the residents to Allentown to have a controversy free election in the Fall. This way, Allentown can move forward anew without elected officials tied to the Pawlowski Era.

Anonymous said...

Then theres the pawlowski/fleck endorsed candidates for city council and school board. I am sure theres some interesting tidbits on tape involving them. Hope the FBI will inform the public so as not to make a mockery of the general election.

Anonymous said...

12;57 pm -

Don't forget that Fleck/Pawlowski/Muller were also trying to do the same with the Lehigh commissioner election as well.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how high up the food chain this thing will go? Does the FBI squeez Fed Ed to the point they get JB Reilly and Browne. This NIZ has been the biggest transfer of wealth from the public to private sector in the history of PA. Who knew what and when has always been a source of great speculation here in the Valley and something that sadly the Mcall has never really tried to get the answer to. Something tells be the FBI if they choose to will be more successful. The Big Welfare Momma JB should have to answer the question of why his brother in law with no money bought up real estate in downtown knowing the NIZ was coming. He was obviously tipped off by his childhood friend Sen Browne and then JB hires Browne"s wife and pays her a small fortune to "lobby". Seems like a logical next step for a closer look from the FBI.

Anonymous said...

At least the Whitehall voters took care of the Pawlowski/Fleck problem in their back yard.

Anonymous said...

City Council needs to begin its own investigation into the "contracting process" tomorrow night.

What they do and say on Wednesday night (or don't do and say on Wednesday) will speak volumes about whether members of council are also involved in everything that's been going on.

They need to rise above their own cronyism and put the good of city residents ahead of their own self-interests. City residents deserve to know what's going on, and they deserve to know that Council will fix the problem.

They shouldn't wait for the FBI to do their job for them.

Anonymous said...

Council will mimic the same little song and dance Edwin performed at the pizza shop grand opening.
Count on it.

Anonymous said...

The subpoena makes a blanket request for records of everyone having an office inside certain parts of City Hall since 2005. This clearly includes plenty of communication with ANIZDA members. If the FBI is at all interested in Allentown's recent "progress," many leads are at their disposal. So, how careful were certain members of the NIZ Board? Some hope the answer is VERY.

Anonymous said...

You expect solutions from THIS city council?

Anonymous said...

This is how politics have been played throughout the Valley for the past ten years. All consultants and contracts. Add to threat the "players" in the quasi-governmental roles and their ties. Incest anyone?

Anonymous said...

Is there a flow chart with how everybody is tied together in this?
Sure there is. The FBI has it pinned to a very large wall, with pictures of the players along each path.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if the boys in Northampton Country are lawyering up yet?

Anonymous said...

Get Panto. The Mulligan stuff is likely just as dirty.

Anonymous said...

Will Don have to cover his own attorneys fees?

Anonymous said...

Remember when the heartless townships and boroughs recoiled at the thought of funding this scheme? Fed Ed and Sal Panto were furious.

Too Bad said...

Over at the Express online, they published the subpoena. Hickey and his firm are being sought, too. HAAAA!

Anonymous said...

Fleck's Easton shenanigans are likely time barred unless someone was silly enough to work with him in the last few years. We should know more when the indictments are unsealed in a few days/weeks

Anonymous said...

It's in the hallway, their largest wall ran out of room. But hey, at least he didnt buy a stuffed buffalo.

Anonymous said...

This council has nothing to say. it was schweyer and schlossberg who were probably getting campaign money to vote for the incinerator and the water deals. then they just moved on. thank god the incinerator didnt go thru and bankrupt Allentown like it did in Harrisburg. but they tried.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I cannot allow the kind of anonymous personal attack I just deleted. Make your points without them, please.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that Jim Gregory was the victim of a political witch hunt. He was one of the best political consultants in the area. His ground game was awesome. When he returns he will be King of the pol's.

Anonymous said...

If nothing else, Jim can advise a few local operators what to expect of federal prison should they receive an invitation.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully somebody investigates how a NHCounty employee obtains a dead womans house.

Anonymous said...

Free Greggy!

Anonymous said...

Fuck Greggy!

Anonymous said...

Bernie, do you think it's possible that the FBI will be raiding other towns/municipalities in our area?

Anonymous said...

Also, I wanted to say KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! Your reporting is terrific. I really appreciate all that you do in bringing things to light!!! WE NEED YOU because our local papers have really fallen down on the job.

Anonymous said...

Good work Bernie

Anonymous said...

Bernie, you think Mayor resigns?

Anonymous said...

The first thing that happens when you walk into a prison population is you have to show your papers. If you harmed a child, women, are a convicted rapist or a snitch your life will be in danger. You might get a shorter sentence but it could make life very difficult in the long run.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if FBI will be dropping by Pat Browne's office or house. He got a boatload of cash from the same suspects.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bernie I think the fbi should be looking at another government agency like the district attorney office fundraising money for one of there own running for sherrif office plus into McNeil and Jerry paligonia and the syrian American club in allentown that gets funds from these guys so they could get something in return mayor ed gave alot of money from city funds Bernie do your research

Anonymous said...

http://lehighvalleyramblings.blogspot.com/2012/02/flecks-2011-consulting-fees-at-least.html
Mike "the Fleckster" Fleck

Anonymous said...

I was on the inside.

Bethlehem is worse then Allentown.
Follow Hickeys key relationships.
Peel the Onion.