Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mudslinging at Monahan Engineered by Someone Who Knows Politics

They can't sentence you to the electric chair for twenty years or have you flogged. But it still must be a trip to be a mini-judge, or district judge. You get to wear cool black robes and everyone has to call you, "Your Honor." Mini-judges handle the small claims - minor criminal cases and civil actions under $8,000. But the annual salary is $74,566, not bad for a position most magistrates consider a part-time job.

Unfortunately, the race for Easton's magisterial district of Williams Township, Glendon Borough and Easton's south side, has turned ugly. Smear tactics, or guerrilla politics, have victimized Brian Monahan, a Republican lawyer in a three-way battle with designer Cindy Greene, another Republican, and Easton councilman Dan Corpora, a Democrat. Both Corpora and Greene convincingly deny being involved in dirty politics, but someone is trying hard to trash Monahan. And it's someone who knows how campaigns work.

It all started with campaign signs. Every candidate moans about campaign signs disappearing. Mother Nature and landscapers often have more to do with removing them than anyone else. But in Monahan's case, someone pulls them out hours after they are posted, rips them in half, and dumps them in Monahan's yard. The person who tells me this? Cindy Greene.

Then we have the anonymous mailers. Two have gone out, one for Dems and one for Rs. They are vicious distortions of Monahan's career as a defense attorney. It is impossible to defend against them without violating attorney-client privilege. Monahan is falsely accused of preventing "the prosecution of a heinous double murder." "We deserve an ethical judge who will be tough on crime - NOT Brian Monahan!"

Neither of these mailers is signed, and that violates The Elections Code. A person who pays for a direct mailing designed to influence an election must "clearly and conspicuously" identify himself. That's the rule, bippy. No anonymous comments. And any person who spends more than $100 to advocate the defeat of a clearly identified candidate, is subject to the same reporting requirements as any candidate or committee. Violating these laws is a misdemeanor that can get you two years in Northampton County's overcrowded slammer, and District Attorney John Morganelli has full authority to prosecute.

So who's behind this smear campaign? Corpora? Greene? Vulcano? Easton Dems acting without Corpora's knowledge? All but Greene have ready access to Vulcano's bulk mail Permit #172. Vulcano could find no record that Greene had ever used it. So Greene is in the clear.

I spoke with both Corpora and Vulcano at length, and these guys have never operated this way. They both have a history of clean campaigns. Why would they go dark now? I believe their denials.

That leaves Easton Dems. They're partisans so it must be them, right? Wrong. And let me explain why. It's all in the label. I might recognize someone from a distance because of the way she "wiggles when she walks." Labels are distinctive, too, and each outfit does it a little differently. One person I know has already identified the sender. This conclusion is based solely on the distinctive label.

Now I'm not about to identify anyone based solely on one piece of circumstantial evidence. I might lose my jeep in a libel suit. But here's a little more. This person, a political consultant, happens to hate Monahan. A few years ago, Monahan sued this suspect and had the temerity to win.

Getting warmer? Yep, but that's not enough, either. After all, who the hell likes Monahan? But here's a little more. This consultant is on friendly terms with Vulcano and has used his bulk mail permit for dems and items he doesn't want to come back to him.

So we've got motive, opportunity and means. Only a very small and elite group have the skill and dough to pull off a smear campaign. Book 'em, Danno!

I'm really suspicious, but can't be positive about this sender without more. There's no smoking gun. But I can get that by having the post office produce the check that paid for each mailer. Postal authorities might resist a Freedom of Information Act request from me, but I don't think they'll turn away the DA.

Today, I'll turn this flier over to the DA. After all, this really is a criminal matter. Unfortunately, it's unlikely we'll learn who's responsible until after the election. It's unfair to all three candidates. They're all tarnished when this happens.

The truth always has a way of coming out. Secrets are hard to hide in Northampton County.

This just in! I've just been told that this political consultant, who has never run for for office, did much the same thing in a local race not long ago, misappropriating a bulk mail permit to launch a smear campaign.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

So Bernie,

Your saying they went to college, and are a consultant? Are those the hints?

Anonymous said...

Are you saying its Fleck?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't know if this person is college educated. That was just a lame attempt at humor.

And I certainly am pointing no finger at Fleck! It's not him. This person is a pro.

I have a very good idea about the identity of the person behind this mudslinging. It's someone who 1) has a sophisticated knowledge of how campaigns work; 2) has access to Vulcano's permit; 3) despises Monahan for reasons having nothing to do with his qualifications as district judge; 4) has an unusual labelling system that just happens to appear on these mailers; 5) was involved in precisely this kind of activity last year in another campaign (I was just provided that little piece of info); and 6) has used Vulcano's mailing permit (#172) in the past.

I am not going to name names without a little more information. It's a criminal accusation, so I want to be absolutely sure. On the other hand,m I want you to know that this has nothing to do with either of Monahan's opponents, who have been victimized and tarnished by this as well. I think it's important people know that the candidates are blameless.

Anonymous said...

What a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive. Isn't Fleck busy enough digging a hole for the grave of his own campaign?

Anonymous said...

Fleck isn't this smart, and he has no motive. Motive is the answer!

Anonymous said...

Buddy Christ! Damn him! I knew that guy was too good to be true!

Anonymous said...

Actually, Bernie, have you ever heard of the US Supreme Court case McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission? Or don't you pay attention to silly things like the Supreme Court anymore, since you've been disbarred? You can read the case here if you'd like:http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=U10296

Or I can just summarize it for you... McIntyre sent out mail opposing a school tax levy and signed the mail "Concerned Parents and Tax Payers". The Ohio Elections Commission fined him $100 for violating their prohibition on annonymous campaign literature. McIntyre appealed the decision and the US Supreme Court agreed - annonymous political speech IS protected under the First Amendment and the Ohio Elections Commission was acting unconstitutionally.

The literature would not be protected if it was libelous, but as far as I know everything in the mailing was taken from the Morning Call. So go ahead and prepare all of your evidence for the D.A. - but you won't get far.

Anonymous said...

Also, from the PA Dept. of State website:

"Based on the Wadzinski decision, it is the position of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth that Section 1638 (b) is unenforceable."

Section 1638 (b) is the section reffering to the requirement for a person to identify him/herself when publishing campaign material.

But, like I said, what use would a disbarred lawyer have for legal research and case law?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I've read the case. I'm quite familiar with it. Anonymous political speech is protected. Nobody said it isn't.

But when someone spends more than $100 to try to influnece an election, there must be a disclosure. That's a reasonable restriction, and that's the law. The paid ad must also contain the name of the person who is doing this. Once again, reasonable restriction, in the election code, easily distinguishable from the Ohio case.

The information, in addition to violating the Election Code, actually was libelous. Your ad states that Monahan prevented the prosecution of two heinous murders. If that were true, he'd have to be charged as someone who obstructed justice. But it's not true. It's a lie, just like your interpretation of the Supreme Court.

I lost my license for drinking, not being stupid.

Now when are you going to stop smearing people? You've been doing it for years, and have relied on your friendship with Morganelli to allow you to get out of jams. I'm going to insist that Morganelli look into it, and if he refuses to do so, will take it to the next level. People like you are what turn people away from politics.

Don't you feel just a little guilty about abusing your friendship w/ Vulcano? Does it make you feel good to smear someone with what you know is a lie just because you lost your contract with the state republicans?

By the way, you weren't too smart about how you paid for this mailer. Oopsie!!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's great. The requirement that a person "clearly and conspicuously" identify hinself is contained im Section 1638(a), not Section 1638(b).

Oopsie!

The Wadzinski decision, which you mention, had nothing to do with anonymous mailers by someone spending more that $100 to try and influence an election.

Oopsie!

Let's face it. You're a criminal.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but where is this "your ad" coming from? I am nothing more than a concerned citizen trying to counter your very serious accusations.

And anyway, who determines what is a "reasonable restriction"? There's no exception to the protection of free speech that says "Your anonymous free speech is protected up to X amount of dollars spent on dispersing that speech". I am aware of Pennsylvania code concerning the reporting of funds spent on campaigning; however, requiring someone to disclose the money spent
on anonymous political literature is a de facto violation of protection of anonymous speech.

You say, "The paid ad must also contain the name of the person who is doing this. Once again, reasonable restriction, in the election code, easily distinguishable from the Ohio case", but the Department of State has said, as a result of both US Supreme Court decisions and PA case law, these laws are no longer enforceable.

Anonymous said...

Also, if a report does need to be filed (and let me restate that requiring a report would be a DE FACTO VIOLATION of the First Amendment), there is a 30-day period in which it can be filed. The mailing went out this weeek, right? So I think you can stop crying bloody murder for now. By the time the 30 days are up the election will be over, and probably the only person still whining about this will be you.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone even attempt to defend the behavior of the person(s) who sent out these fliers?

The information in the flier was taken out of context from a Morning Call article. The FULL article began with this sentence:

''Experts in legal procedures and ethics generally agree that Northampton County's chief public defender [Brian Monahan] did the right thing in advising a key witness in a double homicide case to keep quiet.''

But that wouldn't have had the same effect if they had included it, now would it?

Despicable, disgusting and dastardly.

Anonymous said...

Talking about mailings--interesting one in the Nazareth mini-judge race. Capobianco still hanging on his brother-in-law's reputation and sitting with Dally in Dally's law office. What political favors are owed there? It's despicable. Looks like Capobianco is pretending to be a lawyer. Hmm, is that his office and his normal dress as a deputy sheriff? Don't think so! Such a shame--no credentials of his own. read the mailer--totally weak. Needs his brother to bring some credibility to him. Sad, really. He's the only candidate i've seen this from--no other person trying to hang on another's good name. Good thing primary voters are smart and read about background. At least, this primary voter does. Won't vote fr a candidate not strong enough to stand on own merit

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 4:00,

I'll be talking about the Nazareth mini-judge race again very soon. Who do you support?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 3:55,

Let me tell you something. Your ad has upset not just Monahan, but his two opponents. It has upset Williams Tp residents, who correctly identify your ad as malicious garbage. And it has upset me.

You're right. Most people forget about these midnight attcks two days after the election is over. It's what enables people like you to continue your slime attacks. But I'm making you a promise.I will pursue this until you are tagged.

Your bogus arguments are a perversion, both of the elections code and first amendment. If there were any truth to the argument at all, no candidate would be required ever to identify a mailer as his or disclose any spending.

I know you have no intention of reporting the amount of money you spent to send a mailer to both registered Democrats and Republicans in the Easton magisterial district. You cite sections of the law having nothing to do with the requirement that you identify yourself, and cite cases that have no relevance to anonymous mailings designed to influence an election in which more than $100 is spent.

And you made a few mistakes because you're acting out of anger - anger at Monahan for having the temerity to sue you and anger at local Republicans over your removal from a well paid consulting position for the state party. You've made mistakes this time.

Oopsie!

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:55,

You forgot about Section 1628!!!
"Any candidate or political committee, authorized by a
candidate and created solely for the purpose of influencing an
election on behalf of that candidate, which receives any contribution
or pledge of five hundred dollars ($500) or more,
and any person making an independent expenditure, as
defined by this act, of five hundred dollars ($500) or more
after the final pre-election report has been deemed completed,
shall report such contribution, pledge or expenditure to
the appropriate supervisor. Such report shall be sent by the
candidate, chairman or treasurer of the political committee
within twenty-four (24) hours of receipt of the contribution.
It shall be the duty of the supervisor to confirm the substance
of such report. The report shall be made by telegram, mailgram,
overnight mail or facsimile transmission. Any candidate
in his own behalf, or chairman, treasurer or candidate in
behalf of the political committee may also comply with this
section by appearing personally before such supervisor and
reporting such late contributions or pledges."

I would think that the mailing costs more than $500.00.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 4:36,

These are not spendings by a candidate or political committee. These are independent expenditures. But The Elections Code, and I have a link to it in my blog, requires that any money spent in excess of $100 must be reported as well. Moreover, any mailer designed to influence an election and involving the payment of over $100, requires a disclosure. The first amendment claim is bogus, as is the reference to the DOS site.

Anonymous said...

You're right, but you only must report within 24 hours if each INDIVIDUAL expense is over $500. In theory a person could send out separate mailings that cost $499 a piece and not have to report it within 24 hours.

And Bernie, you may have some online stalking softwear, but I'm NOT who you're implying I am so I'd appreciate it if you would stop making ASSUMPTIONS.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how the claim is bogus when the case reads:

"Section 3599.09(A)'s prohibition of the distribution of anonymous campaign literature abridges the freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment. Pp. 7-24.


(a) The freedom to publish anonymously is protected by the First Amendment, and, as Talley indicates, extends beyond the literary realm to the advocacy of political causes. Pp. 7-9. "

Anonymous said...

Furthermore:

"c) Section 3599.09(A)'s anonymous speech ban is not justified by Ohio's asserted interests in preventing fraudulent and libelous statements and in providing the electorate with relevant information. The claimed informational interest is plainly insufficient to support the statute's disclosure requirement, since the speaker's identity is no different from other components of a document's contents that the author is free to include or exclude, and the author's name and address add little to the reader's ability to evaluate the document in the case of a handbill written by a private citizen unknown to the reader. Moreover, the state interest in preventing fraud and libel (which Ohio vindicates by means of other, more direct prohibitions) does not justify 3599.09(A)'s extremely broad prohibition of anonymous leaflets."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:57, 3:10, 4:45, 4:49 etc.

1) The Ohio statute, which was ruled unconsitutional, barred all anonymous pamphlets designed to influence an election. But guess what? This ain't Ohio! Ohio's statute was a blanket prohibition. Pa. law is much different, and you conveniently gfail to mention that. The Elections Code, Section 3258(a), only requires that when someone spends money for the purpose of influencing an election, he must be identified. The state has a legitimate interest in protecting candidates who would otherwise be smeared by those who have more money foir whatever reason, which is exactly what has happened here.

2) In another attempt to confuse people and distort the truth, you falsely claim the DOS website permits anonymous mailers like the ones you distributed. You refer to Section 1638(b) and the Wadzinskli decision.

Folks, Section 1638(b) has nothing to do with anonymous mailers, and neither does Wadzinski. That section of the Elections Code is the one that requires one candidate to give others advance copies of proposed ads.

Now are you going to retract your remarks?

3) You say you are not who I think you are, but it's hard for me to believe that two people would justify this outrageous and false anonymous attack against someone who is just running for a small office.

Anonymous said...

I haven't decided who to support in Naz. but this made up my mind about Capobianco. he doesn't win it with me--can't meet the cut w/o his brother-in-law endorsing. Oh, does the mailer forget to say that's his brother-in-law....hmmm, very interesting. just wanted to discuss another mailer i found upsetting and misleading. john's connected to a political figure and advertises it. big mistake..no more of this game in nazareth

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I think 1628 would apply. It reads "...and any person making an independent expenditure, as
defined by this act, of five hundred dollars ($500) or more..."

Independant Expenditure is defined as "...an expenditure by a person made for the purpose of influencing
an election without cooperation or consultation with any candidate or any political committee authorized by that candidate and which is not made in concert with or at the request or suggestion of any candidate or political committee or
agent thereof."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:08, You're right. 1628 applies as well.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:07, Well, it didn't help you. But a lot of people really like and respect Craig Dally, who didn't even have an opponent in his last election. In fact, in today's mail, I received a letter from Craig himself. If your brother-in-law is a popular state rep and he's willing to endorse you, are you supposed to turn him away?

Blue Coyote said...

I can't believe what I am reading on this blog. People justifying smearing others. How low can we go? Can't people win elections through merit in this county? Who ever did this, whether it's legal or not, is just the lowest form of scum around!

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

How come you never applied to be reinstated to practice law? Your suspension was for 2 years, correct?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Blue Coyote!

A new blogger?

From Northampton County??

Democrat???

Welcome! I just looked through your blog and liked it. I hope to hear more from you in the future. You can straighten me out when I'm wrong.

I'll look around and see if I can't find you a roadrunner tonight.

Anonymous said...

coincidentally, read voter's guide today. isn't definition of political independence to avoid political connection? An ad with his picture pretending to read legal books is too close a connection to a political figure and pretending to be something he's not. he's a deputy sheriff who serves warrants, not a paralegal or lawyer. i'm smart and so are nazareth voters. he insults our intelligence. pictures are one thing, his failure to show a solid background is clear in his mailer. he's unable to stand on his own merit--NEEDS his brother-in-law to even come close to beating his 4 opponents. no other mailer from other candidates trying to use someone's credentials. we know what craig dally stands for and his brother-in-law is trying to hang on his good name. Sad, really, he lost my respect and vote

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:29!

My ticket to practice was pulled for two years. Wow, you knew that? Impressive. Are you from the Disciplinary Board? If so, I swear I take my pills every day.

I've been eligible for readmission for nearly 20 years but won't apply. Although I like the law and still read the cases that come down, I don't think I was ever cut out to practice law and make a living at it. I tend to get too caught up in lost causes, and it's hard for me to work on a lot of different cases simultaneously. I get frustrated when I do it. I have to be honest with myself. Also, I tend to get very involved in cases, and that's not good. I'm already nuts enough as it is. I think it's best if I just admire what many lawyers do from a distance. I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of following local government. And I love writing. In hindsight, I probably should have looked for a job as a male model.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:43, I'll be writing about Nazareth tomorrow. I've got all the finance reports and can lay it out. I think I undertand your point. It's a little deceptive for a deputy sheriff to be photographed in a law library. That's fair. But once again, whom do you like??

Anonymous said...

From Anon 6:29, 4:36 and 6:08.

Bernie, I am not from the Disciplinary Board. I am just an attorney who you helped out one day about 4 years when I could not find a book in the Recorder's office. I read your blog from time to time and always wondered why you never applied for re-admission. You seem like you have a great knowledge of the law and a passion for it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:53!

I must have fooled you. Someone else must have been helping you. I'm pretty much a nitwit who is embarrassed nearly every time I search a title at how little I really know. It's in a constant state of flux, and what I pretty much do these days is read or scan the appellate decisions at aopc.org. That's the poor man's way of trying to keep up.

Anonymous said...

Interesting...

I just got a mailer from Corpora today using guess what?

Permit #172...

coincidence?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Permit #172 is used by the Dems, as explained to me by Vulcano. So it's no surprise that you would see a miler with that permit # from Corpora. But unfortunately, too many people have access to that bulk mailing permit. And one of them is the campaign consultant I mentioned. There is bad blood between Corpora and this consultant. This guy will now have a nice laugh because he has made everyone suspicious of the candidates. They've asll been tarnished.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying Bernie...

Anonymous said...

just as an outsider looking and without taking sides, this is high quality debate and is very refreshing to see such passion and intensity. Bernie, take your pills you have an appointment tommorrow for a photo op for the national geo big foot special

Bernie O'Hare said...

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride!

Anonymous said...

Bernie, do you think it could be Doc Severson the bandleader from the Johnny Carson show? I recently saw him geting off the bus at Riverwalk.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

You can still achieve your dream of becoming a male model. A group of concerned citizens and I are conducting a fundraiser to help pay for another prison expansion.

We're putting together a calendar entitled, 'Courthouse Hunks,' and it will sell for $12.99. Male models will be asked to pose shirtless (nothing too raunchy - this will be a classy publication, you know) in various places around the courthouse.

We really think it's going to be a big seller. It could really help jumpstart your career, and it's for a really good cause!

Anonymous said...

Couthouse hunks! Maybe Bernie and Angle can pose with a microphone in a suggestive manner. Now that would sell! Only problem I think if you ever saw Angle in a thong you would be blinded for life.

Anonymous said...

Tom Severson...enough said...dem's paid for it...

Anonymous said...

Also, the dem's are the ones benefiting from the election...or so they think, lots of upset citizens and backlash, this garbage mailer might have actually helped Monahan more than they hurt him, Cindy Greene would know about the sign stealing, i have very good information that points the finger to her/her son Mario...what is funny is that this is a DJ race, these people aren't running for president of the US for crying out loud. Bernie you are on the mark with Monahan's response, very quiet and reserved...I on the other hand would be going nuts...

Rather than denouncing this publicly to the paper, Corpora and Greene (who has a snow ball's chance in even coming close to winning, (here is some info Bernie, birdies around town have told me a certain quasi republican from williams township, with strong ties to TJ Rooney's right hand man talked Cindy into running in order to play the roll of spoiler ala ralph nader...))

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 11:32 & 11:39,

I have a very strong suspicion about who is responsible for this mailer, but honestly don't believe the Dems funded it. It would be totally out of character for Vulcano or Corpora. But I intend to demand that Vulcano accompany me to the post office to ask for all records concerning his bulk mail permit. And the DA will meet with me.

Anonymous said...

i forgot to finish my previous post, anyways, the other two candadiates failed to publically denounce this and sat quietly on the side in an attempt to reap the benefits, also in other neat cindy greene news, she is expecting a strong turn out from west easton, as she had a vigorous door to door campaign there, HONESTLY...i wish that was a joke, she actually went door to door in west easton...as you would say "ooopssiee" boy thats someone i want to vote for, so serious about the campaign that she doesnt even know her district...

Bernie O'Hare said...

Now that's hilarious!

Oopsie!

Anonymous said...

Bernie isn't the DA close friends of the consultant in question?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, he is. I'll have more about this next week.