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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tom Severson, King of Sleazeball Politics, Behind Monahan Smear

On Friday, I told you about the primary race for Easton's magisterial district of Williams Township, Glendon Borough and Easton's south side. Brian Monahan, a Republican lawyer, was in a three-way battle with designer Cindy Greene, another Republican, and Easton councilman Dan Corpora, a Democrat.

About a week before the election, the bombs started dropping, not from the sky, but from mailboxes. In three massive mailings, Monahan was unfairly and maliciously tarnished as an unethical lawyer who obstructed justice. He was accused of preventing "the prosecution of a heinous double murder," a blatant lie! The author of these defamatory attacks? He refused to identify himself.

Naturally, Monahan initially assumed he was being attacked by one of his opponents. But as bad as he felt, his opponents were even more depressed. You see, they were blameless. I spoke to both of them at the time. You could hear it in their voices. Disgust.

Corpora learned this mailing came from the same bulk mail permit he used for his own campaign literature. And Cindy Greene was immediately accused of trying to knock Monahan off so she could get the republican nod.

I spoke to Corpora and Greene yesterday. Dan tells me, "I have a lot of respect for Brian and what he's accomplished," and was very proud of the positive campaign. He's still quite upset over what has happened. Cindy is even more specific. "I am just so aggravated. I see a lot of people are turned off by politics." Greene tells me that on election day, a few voters marched up to her and said, "I'm not voting for a mudslinger. I'll vote for Monahan."

Severson's Bogus "John Doe" Report

Last Thursday, the anonymous culprit who attempted unsuccessfully to sleaze Monahan crawled out from under his rock to file a 30 day post primary report as an "independent expenditure." Identifying himself as John Doe, he claimed one payment of $861.91 to Precision Marketing for mail on May 21, nearly a week after the primary, long after the three mailings had gone out.

Although still claiming to be "John Doe," this anonymous filer is known to me. He's Tom Severson, owner of Precision Marketing and King of Sleazeball politics.

How do I know this? Not long after the mailings went out, I talked to District Attorney John Morganelli. I told him he could send a detective with Pat Vulcano, the bulk mail permit holder, and get all the records for the bulk mail permit. That way we'd know how much was paid for these three mailings and who sent them.

"I'm not going to do that."

"Why not?"

"I already know who sent those mailers. It's Severson."

Morganelli assures me anonymous mailers are legal, and handed me a pile of memos to that effect, but they involve inadvertent violations of elections laws. This is something different. I told John the law may permit anonymous mailings, but the person who pays for them must be identified. Finally, I told John these mailings violate other sections of the elections code, relating to reports.

"We'll have to wait and see," John smiled. John and Tom are pals, and it's time he refers this to the AG without running interference for Severson.

What election laws are we talking about?

According to our Elections Code,

* A person who pays for a direct mailing designed to influence an election must "clearly and conspicuously" identify himself. The author can be anonymous, but the person who pays must disclose.

* 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.

* Any person making an independent expenditure of $500 or more after the final pre-election report, must report that expenditure within 24 hours.

* Violating these laws is a misdemeanor that can get you two years in Northampton County's overcrowded slammer, and District Attorney John Morganelli or Attorney General Tom Corbett has full authority to prosecute.

Severson, who paid money to defeat Monahan, failed to identify himself. He clearly paid more than $500 to send these mailers about a week before the election, but did not report this expenditure within 24 hours. His "John Doe" report, in which he refuses to identify himself, is a mockery because it's clear that three mass mailings cost much more than $861, and those payments were made before the primary.

Cindy Greene has yet to file her post-election report. She was at the beach last week.

Here's what she tells me, "Why file anything? A lot of people don't even want to vote anymore. I can guarantee you I don't get any special privileges. I am going to pay a late fee, but some people are above the law."

She also raises a pretty good question. How the hell does an anonymous John Doe get his signature notarized? "What does he do, whip out a license showing his name is John Doe?"

Severson's "John Doe" report is notarized by Priscilla M Jroski, a notary presumably following the directions of Severson's lawyers, the Leeson law offices. As much as I respect the lawyers in that firm, this is bullshit. A notary exists to identify the person appearing before her, not obscure that person. She must have personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence in the form of a driver's license or other form of identification.

The report is a sham. Norco elections solicitor Chris Spadoni told the Express Times he's never seen anything like it. That's because it totally defeats the purpose of our campaign finance laws, which are intended to encourage disclosure, not hide expenditures in a shroud of secrecy.

Who is Tom Severson, and why is he after Monahan? I'll answer those questions later this week.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn't there some ethics committee covering notaries? If so, I think that they should be notified.

I'm disgusted that Morganelli is letting his friendship with Severson prohibit what should be done immediately. Charges should be filed immediately.

I'm also disappointed that Cindy Greene feels it's okay to file charges late because 'why bother?' Two wrongs don't make a right. Looks like we were right in not voting for her for judge.

Anonymous said...

Greene was not filing charges late, she filed her campaign finance report late. She will be fined for the late filing.

Anonymous said...

You're right. I meant to say 'report.' Still, I find it troubling that she couldn't be bothered with filing her report on time.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, When I checked the online campaign reports, there is an entry saying that Precision Marketing received $1,510.81 from John Morganelli:

PRECISION MARKETING
EASTON, PA 18045 3/5/2007 $1,510.81
Description: STREET LISTS/MAILHOUSE
Filer/Payer: MORGANELLI, JOHN M CITIZENS FOR 2000

Don't you think that's weird?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 1:26,

Severson & Morganelli are tight. I'll have more about that.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Should not this information concerning Morganelli's negligence in filing charges of election law violations by Severson be forwarded to the State Attorney General?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 5:56,

I don't think John is being negligent. John is a very good DA and an even better politician. He just doesn't see that this is wrong, and has an understandable reluctance to pursue election law violations. He also has an old AG opinion that claims anonymous mailers can't be prosecuted, at least when they're sent inadverdently.

But this matter needs to be investigated, and it will go to the state AG. I'm sure Morganelli has spoken to them. He's diligent. But he's giving them his take, and I believe his take is colored. I don't mean to slam John, whom I respect, but he's only human. It's unfair to ask him to investigate his own friend.

Anonymous said...

Bernie.

Severson will squash you. He squashes everyone. The man is the devil. You should ask for protective custody. The man is evil. He sweats blood and eats people like you for breakfast. Do you think that Monahan actually has a shot. Corpora is a pretty popular guy in that district.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 10:41,

Dan Corpora is not just popular, but a very capable and classy guy. Monahan is very well-respected in the legal community, and has been Williams Tp's solicitor for about 1,000 years. I'm not ready to call that one, but I think Monahan has an uphill battle.

But that's not the point here. It's Severson. His nasty attack ads turn people away from politics.

Bonnie Sysko Dodge said...

PM is under contract to the Senate Republican Committee, yet it does nothing to curb Severson's hatred of Republicans. He's openly provided money and printed mailers bashing his own party's candidates on behalf of Democratic candidates . First order of business is for the Republican party to dump Severson. He is the most disreputable paranha directly affiliated with PA government, and that goes a distance!

Anonymous said...

Monahan's a dishonest sleezeball with a propensity for schmoozing (unresearched) support and slithering out of inappropriate corners to levels unseen since Tricky Dick figured out how to use his secretary's tape machine.

And there's documentation (not your average 'anonymous flyers') to prove it.

I pray to God he doesn't win a seat on ANY bench ('cept maybe the NE patriots). Or that folks don't bother to do a little nosing around before they check the box.

I don't need a LAWYER in that seat. I just need an HONEST MAN/WOMAN in that seat for all the right reasons.

and this AIN't 'doc' severson!