Post-Gazette reporters Janice Crompton and Tom Barnes are thorough and professional, but when I saw their story on this morning's front page, my only thought was, "I sure hope they're wrong."
Well, not them exactly. But two people quoted in their story suggested that voters in the 50th Legislative District don't much care about the allegations being made against Bill DeWeese, their long-time representative and current House Majority Leader.
Ever since the Bonusgate scandal in Harrisburg erupted, the logical question has been about the knowledge and involvement of the man at the top of the Democratic caucus, where $1.6 million in questionable bonuses were awarded, at least some of them allegedly as rewards for illegal campaign work.
His former top aide, Mike Manzo, now charged in the scheme along with his wife, Rachel, testified at a preliminary hearing in Harrisburg yesterday. When asked if DeWeese knew about the complicated, surreptitious pay plan, he responded, "I believe he did, yes." DeWeese was quick to respond, denying the allegations and calling Manzo a disgruntled employee, upset because DeWeese fired him. And no charges have been filed against DeWeese, at least not yet.
Any way you look at this, it's darned interesting. But Cindy Bailey, publisher of the monthly paper GreeneSpeak, had this to say about the electorate in DeWeese's district: "I really get the sense that people don't understand exactly what the big deal is."
And Dr. Joseph DiSarro of Washington & Jefferson College's political science department said, "I do not believe that Bonusgate will be the issue that will unseat him."
Republican candidate Greg Hopkins, who came close to unseating DeWeese two years ago, is hoping they're wrong, too. He's running again.