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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, May 02, 2016

Federal Pay-to-Play Investigation Wider Than Allentown, Reading

Back in July, I told you how I thought the federal investigation into pay-to-play in Allentown and reading got its start. That's because Federal District Court Judge John E. Jones III seemed to be in no hurry to impose sentence against a state official who pleaded guilty shaking down vendors for campaign contributions. I speculated then that McCord was obviously providing prosecutors with useful information. His attorney admitted as much to the press at the time of McCord's February guilty plea. "In the fullness of time . . . you will have a lot to write about."

That prediction has come true.

At the current time, a status conference for McCord is scheduled for October.

We also now know, thanks to The Philadelphia Inquirer, that both McCord and Governor Ed Rendell's former chief of staff, John Estey, were wearing wires. Estey, who was at one time earning $736,000 a year from the Hershey Trust, embezzled $20,000 given to him by the FBI for illegal contributions.

It's unclear how extensively Estey was used. But according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, McCord recorded 2,000 phone conversations.

On February 3, 2014, Pawlowski bowed out of the Governor's race, claiming that his "time and focus needs to be concentrated on the continued revitalization of Allentown." He immediately endorsed Rob McCord, who was standing by his side along with several Pawlowski puppets like State Reps. Mike Schlossberg and Pete Schweyer. McCord said that Pawlowski would play a "vital role" in the McCord administration. That very day, Pawlowski gave McCord $10,000 of other people's money from his Governor PAC, and sweetened the pot with another $5,000 on May 8, 2014.

Fleck's business client, Abe Atiyeh, provided McCord with $1,000 worth of billboard advertising. His political client, Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer, provided McCord with a $7,000 campaign mailer and GOTV efforts.

Miked Fleck, who had already earned $33,500 from Pawlowski, now started billing McCord. He was paid $42,301.19 for his services between February 6, 2014 and May 18, 2014.

Representing two gubernatorial candidates, Fleck had raked in $75,801.19.

McCord did manage to pick up some Lehigh Valley support in a March visit. Easton Mayor Sal Panto, a Pawlowski and Fleck ally, gleefully bashed now Governor Wolf, claiming that “Democrats want someone who wants to work and earn a paycheck.” Later that day, Fed Ed took McCord on a tour of his realm at the Allentown's Farmers Market, using Schlossberg as a flunkie to carry the food bestowed upon the duo. According to reporter John Micek, who was shadowing them that day, both Pawlowski and Schlossberg "will ramble on about [McCord's] wonderfulness if they’re asked."

McCord's shakedowns began in recorded telephone calls he placed between April 18 and May 6, 2014.

Though Fed Ed is the big fish to people in the Lehigh Valley, this appears to be a far-ranging investigation into pay-to-play. It could extend well beyond Allentown, and seems to be focused on Democrats.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let us not forget the support of ole Muller.

Paul Fiske said...

Thanks Bernie,
That gives us a fuller picture of all this "pay to play" corruption. Who knows what else "lurks" in the bowels of this "cesspool"??
"The Old Allentown Curmudgeon"
Paul J. Fiske

Anonymous said...

Sad really. They've spent years building a political empire and perfected the art of voter fraud to the point where any who would dare criticize is immediately laughed out of the conversation and wholly dismissed as a right wing racist extremist.

They've tossed it all aside for greed and hunger for power. They let their inability to make something of their lives outside of elected office get the better of them. They have wasted years of kid brother treatment from a willing pool of reporters all for the almighty ill gotten gain of someone else's money.

The chickens they are coming home to roost.

Anonymous said...

Obama is still cool, though.

Anonymous said...

With Franny D gone who is at the helm?
Can the ship of fools sail itself?$?

Anonymous said...

Morganelli raised good questions about Josh Shapiro's funding raising from Montco vendors, but the big white whale here is former Gov. Rendell. He raised millions of dollars running for office, handed out lots of contracts and cardboard checks and it looks like Estey, his chief of staff, was deeply involved in raising those funds.

Anonymous said...

If they would decide to prosecute every bit of pay-to-play in the state, they would need 10,s of thousands of investigators, this corruption is prevalent anywhere there is government money. It is no secret that the providers of astro turf to school districts have been wining and dining coaches and school board members across the state. this is just the visible pay-offs the bigger payoffs come after the deal and are most likely more substantial. There are many business's today who could not succeed without the assistance of government officials.

Anonymous said...

Yawn. Corruption follows the Democrats like a shadow, doesn't it ?

Anonymous said...

@8:26 If they would decide to prosecute every bit of pay-to-play in the state, they would need 10,s of thousands of investigators,

It's a direct result of the low-information voters electing Democrats to office. Where Dems go, trouble follows. Just look at Big Ed in Allentown. Enough said.

Anonymous said...

Your blog paints Schlossturd like a complete moron. Surely you can do better.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Yawn. Corruption follows the Democrats like a shadow, doesn't it ?"

As a Democrat, I do not like this, but that seems to be the reality.

Anonymous said...

Darth Voter paints himself as a complete moron. Bernie simply supplies the gallery for many to see.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Morganelli raised good questions about Josh Shapiro's funding raising from Montco vendors, but the big white whale here is former Gov. Rendell. He raised millions of dollars running for office, handed out lots of contracts and cardboard checks and it looks like Estey, his chief of staff, was deeply involved in raising those funds. "

Bingo. That's where i think this is really headed, but I doubt it ever gets there. If Rendell were dirty, wouldn't Estey have given him up long ago? As for Shapiro, I'fd like to know exactly what he had to do with the Johnny Doc money that was laundered for two Philly Council candidates thru a Fleck PAC in Reading.

Anonymous said...

When all the pieces come together, enough charges filed, Allentown will have become the catalyst for a MAJOR national news event that will long be remembered.

Remember though, the first American discovery of the STINK BUG happened here, too!


Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Bernie, something doesn't seem right with the events surrounding John Estey. First, John comes from an extremely wealthy main line family. And himself was making a huge amount of money. His father was a long time powerful Philadelphia. And quite frankly the man is brilliant. So what would be the motivation to take $13,000? There seems to be more to this than meets the eye. Thoughts?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Why do good people do stupid things, you ask. Damn if I know. But I know it happens all the time.

Anonymous said...

@9:06 Greed is always the motivation. Ask Gordon Gecko.

Anonymous said...

This is getting interesting. Wasn't PA Dem Chair from Montco Marcel Groen somehow involved with Pawlowski?

Anonymous said...

Estey was brought into the Milton Hershey School Trust to improve relations with Democratic Attorney General Kane, who was investigating the School for mis-use of tens of millions in charitable dollars.

Many articles about this issue at the link:

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/Inq_HT_Hershey_Trust.html

Anonymous said...

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20160501_Few_details_available_in_Estey_bombshell.html

Anonymous said...

Kathy Kane, another Democratic Crook. One more in the rouges' gallery.

Jamie Kelton said...

These are reasons why my husband and I vote Republican. There are crooks on both sides of the political spectrum, but most seem to be found on the left.

Anonymous said...

@10:16. Thanks for the link. John's brother in law was Kathleen Kane's first deputy until he resigned in 2014 to go back to private practice. It's all so strange.

Anonymous said...

https://www.facebook.com/protecthersheychildren/posts/10153711276677753

Read more about the links between Estey, Kane and the $12 billion Milton Hershey School Trust.

Anonymous said...

Estey made $735,719 a year from the Milton Hershey School and associated entities, according to the latest mandatory IRS filing.

George Ruth said...

Jamie Kelton is correct. My only caveat is that this is more about concentrated power than it is about political philosophy. I have voted Republican in two states (not at the same time, however) since 1972. My guess is much of the corruption in Republican states is by Republicans. When power is unchecked we get corruption. For most of the country, especially liberal states in the northeast the Dems lead the league. Term limits is the only answer to keep political leaders from becoming so entrenched that they think they are impervious to investigation. Heck,our local newspapers, the so-called guardians of the public trust, are still running puff pieces on the wonder of economic 'growth' in the valley. Growth, at least, in the delivery of fork lifts.

Anonymous said...

WOW! The same "Abe Atiyeh" that dropped 25 Thousand Plus into D.A. John Morganelli's Attorney General Campaign.

The web's that get spun........ I guess just follow the money

Anonymous said...

@ 8:31 - this is what happens when you have one party rule. This is what happens when the politicians have no fear of being voted out for their scams. This is what happens when the voter based is more uniformed than informed. This is what happens when cash flow and special interest groups like unions , illegals, the US Chamber, planned parenthood, the NRA,and many others own candidates.

See >> Mike Schlossberg. This is a huge scam artist who will eventually find himself on the front pages of the newspaper...that is , if the new paper actually did their job. Mr. ghost voter himself , is sweating right now !!!

Anonymous said...

This blog is like the Bobbbby Guber Walsh show for the deaf. Nice content.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am a Democrat and will defend Democrats when they are right. But facts are facts. I am unable to defend this pay-to-play atmosphere, and it is my observation that the biggest offenders here in Pa. are Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Here's hoping the twin boy Reps Mikie and Pete go to jail.

Captain Obvious said...

" .... it is my observation that the biggest offenders here in Pa. are Democrats."

Can't get one past you, Bernmeister. Welcome aboard, matey.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Truth be told on the reel of palumpa's as well as the whole the notorious Hamilton street gang o thugs R or D public and private there is swimming at all levels!? The parishinors of church on the run have been doing like fed Ed for years, its all in the head count?!
Republican redd

Anonymous said...

Ever hear of Harding, Agnew. Nixon. Wilbur Hayes to name a few.

Anonymous said...

Along with John Perzel, Frank Serafini and Bret Feece

Bernie O'Hare said...

Although Wilbur Hayes was a Democrat, I get your point. Political corruption exists in both parties. Here in Pa, you could add Orie and Melvin to the list. It nevertheless appars that this recent federal probe is focused on Dems, and that's just the way it is right now.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...
WOW! The same "Abe Atiyeh" that dropped 25 Thousand Plus into D.A. John Morganelli's Attorney General Campaign.

The web's that get spun........ I guess just follow the money"



DONT FORGET ABOUT THE NICE PROFIT FROM THE LAND SALE THAT FED ED BROKERED, AA CLEARED A MILLION OF YOUR TAX DOLLARS, TALK ABOUT PAYING TO PLAY!

Anonymous said...

Skimming not swimming?!

Chris Casey said...

If I had to pick any local elected who might still get caught up in this, I would pick Mota and or Guridy. Remember Delta Thermo? I bet the Fed's do.

Anonymous said...

Mota is clean .Nobody in their right mind would trust Her

Anonymous said...

@4:09 - Cheers, I'll drink to that again and again...

Anonymous said...

I agree, welcome aboard Bernie. You have told it like it is about the Demoncats. They are all crooks.

Make America Great Again, this November.

Unsafe At Any Democracy said...

Fleck cut his teeth working with Rendell and Fumo.

The latter did time in a federal pen. The previous seems to be chummy with Chuck Schumer. It pays to have friends in high places. Fast Eddie has them, others don't.

But, it's just a matter of time before the chickens come home to roost on the Rendell corruption ranch.

Oh, and ask Ralph Nader how corrupt and dirty PA Democrats can get. Ralph Nader was literally the subject to destroy in what later became known as "Bonus-Gate". Die hard partisan Democrats HATE Ralph Nader, because he is much like Bernie O'Hare. A stickler for ethics and the truth before party lines.

Anonymous said...

Bernie were you able to figure out who donors # 3 and 5 are?

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad Bernie is on the Trump steamroller. For America's sake!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie were you able to figure out who donors # 3 and 5 are?"

Donor #3 is most likely T and M, an engineering firm from Jersey. Donor #5 is still unknown.

Anonymous said...

Pawlowskis, you sweating bullets yet?:
http://m.nydailynews.com/news/politics/sheldon-silver-sentenced-12-years-corruption-schemes-article-1.2623405