The fallout from the biggest political scandal in Pennsylvania history continues.
We now know that not only did top state Democratic elected officials use taxpayer dollars to fund campaign work to win control of the state House in 2006, but those very same officials paid operatives to knock Ralph Nader off the ballot in Pennsylvania in 2004.
Without Nader on the ballot, John Kerry narrowly won Pennsylvania. But the bigger issue is whether one political party should be allowed to sabotage the political process.
Nader is planning to ask the Pennsylvania Supreme court to reopen a case stemming from a successful effort to remove him from the 2004 presidential ballot, according to The Associated press..
Nader’s appeal hinges on revelations that state Democratic legislative officials illegally underwrote the effort with taxpayer money, the news service reports.
From the AP story:
"The conduct of the Pennsylvania Democrats, through their criminally indicted representatives, shocks the conscience of those who believe in government of the people, by the people and for the people," Nader said during a Capitol news conference.
Nader's attorney, Oliver Hall, said he expected to file a petition with the court "within the next day or two."
A state grand jury alleged earlier this month that as many as 50 taxpayer-paid legislative employees reviewed signatures on Nader's petitions in an effort to disqualify him from the ballot.
Twelve people connected to the state House Democratic caucus were charged July 10 in an alleged wide-ranging scheme to use taxpayer-funded employees, equipment and other resources in political campaigns.
The defendants include former Rep. Michael Veon of Beaver County, the No. 2 House Democrat until he lost his 2006 re-election bid, and a top House aide, Mike Manzo. All the defendants are free on bail. Veon and Manzo are innocent, their lawyers have said.
Democrats mounted the ballot challenge out of fear that Nader's independent candidacy would hurt Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's chances of prevailing against President Bush, the Republican incumbent, in a key battleground state.
The grand jury alleged that Manzo orchestrated the review of Nader's nominating petitions, and noted that Veon praised employees for their efforts in an e-mail sent Oct. 13, 2004, the day Commonwealth Court threw Nader off the ballot.
"This would never ever have been successful without your work," Veon wrote. "You have given John Kerry an even better opportunity to win this state ... one of the most 5 important states to win this year."