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Historians know that former presidential candidate Rick Santorum was not the only person who chose to run against Bob Casey Jr. in the 2006 US Senate election in PA. After Green Party Candidate Ralph Nader got his fill of ballot access issues in PA in 2004 when he ran for President against Bush and Kerry, another Green, Carl Romanelli, from Wilkes-Barre, signed up to take on both Santorum and Casey. Nader coached the Greens in 2006 so the Party knew that Romanelli would need much more than the official bogey of 67,070 signatures for getting on the PA ballot.
Romanelli did very well in gaining about 97,000 signatures but, he was unmercifully and perhaps even illegally stiffed by the pro-Casey Democratic machine. When he filed a lawsuit claiming foul in 2010, Romanelli outlined the reasons that he believed that Pennsylvania Democrats orchestrated what he called a “Herculean” – and illegal – scheme to dispose of his 2006 U.S. Senate campaign. From Romanelli’s vantage, the charade was executed so that PA State Treasurer Bob Casey. Jr. might more easily defeat incumbent Republican Rick Santorum.
Romanelli’s ouster from the PA ballot has been connected to the state’s Bonusgate scandal, in which more than two dozen public officials were accused of illegally using public funds and resources for campaign purposes. Bob Casey Jr. was the State Treasurer at the time and technically at least, he was the state official that made the payoffs to the crooks. Additionally, State Treasurer Casey personally benefitted from the payments. If Romanelli were in the race, chances are Casey would not now be a US Senator. Rick Santorum would be going for another term.
Casey’s campaign “friends” worked the political system to eliminate Romanelli. This feisty Green Party candidate, who had the guts to take on Bob Casey Jr. and the PA political machine worked so hard that he brought in 97,000 signatures on his ballot petition. Search Ballot Access in PA on conservativeactionalerts.com to see just how difficult it is to get fair ballot treatment in Pennsylvania.
Romanelli theoretically needed “only” 67,070 valid signatures. He exceeded the requirement by almost 50%. Each petition sheet held as many as 50 signatures and as few as one. The campaign against Romanelli and others, dubbed Bonusgate was big and corrupt. Attorney General Tom Corbett, now Governor of PA led an investigation leading to the arrest of six state representatives and 19 staffers. Somehow, State Treasurer Casey was not implicated. The logical conclusion is that Senator Casey had nothing to do with it. What he knew or should have known is worthy of debate.
The dirty linen exposed was one of the biggest corruption scandals in state government history. Its intricate web involved the siphoning off of state funds, overseen by Casey’s Treasury Department to pay state government employees for spending their time working for Democratic candidates moving the Democratic Party’s goals further along. One of the major goals was to oust Romanelli from his rightful place on the PA ballot. Through massive corruption, they succeeded. Yet, Casey still stands.
The grand jury investigation discovered that from 2004 to 2006, PA House Democratic Caucus employees secretly grabbed $1,641,550 in taxpayer money while working hard to elect Democratic candidates. Ralph Nader, a Green Party Leader, and well known American, was incensed by the corruption in PA, and he continues to call on Federal Authorities to investigate evidence of federal crimes arising from the Bonusgate scandal
During the thick of the investigation, Nader did not think the probe was wide enough and so he urged former Attorney General Tom Corbett’s Public Corruption Unit to clarify the roles of the PA House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., and two law firms referenced in the Grand Jury data. The former Pennsylvania House Speaker, Bill DeWeese was convicted and is serving between two and a half to five years in prison. Bob Casey Jr. remains free and untainted and thus he is presumed innocent. It is no wonder that Casey is such a strong advocate for Barack Obama. I would not expect that AG Eric Holder will be visiting PA any time soon. Casey is again running for reelection to the US Senate.
The man left behind in all of this is Carl Romanelli Jr., who literally brought in a truck load of paper. There were about 3500 nominating petition sheets in the Romanelli packet. Casey needed just 2000 signatures according to PA law. Romanelli needed a “modicum of support,” according to PA law. That “modicum” was redefined by corrupt PA politicians as 67,070 signatures. The Casey people could not afford to have the crown prince of the Democratic Party defeated so to them it was paramount that Carl Romanelli, the spoiler in the race, be thrown off the ballot. When Romanelli brought in more signatures than any candidate that had ever run for any office in Pennsylvania, the Casey proponents knew that their only option was to cheat. They did, and that is why so many PA elite dignitaries and corrupt politicians are now in jail.
Yet, Casey is still US Senator and Carl Romanelli is almost bankrupt. Many Pennsylvanians think this was illegal but it still stands. With the vigor and determination that the friends of Casey worked, there was no way Romanelli would have survived the Casey onslaught even if he had brought in a million signatures. Some people say, “That’s politics.” I say: that’s government corruption.
And, so Senator Casey got what he wanted. He then engaged in a one-on-one battle with then Senator Rick Santorum. Casey won that battle handily as the corrupt media played 100% on Casey’s side, providing the necessary cover for the future Senator. And, when needed, they would figure out ways to slam Santorum for Casey’s benefit. Gloating in their victory, the Casey team went on to legally punish Carl Romanelli for his apparent insolence. Senator-elect Casey and later, Senator Casey chose not to back-off on the most unfair part of the PA ballot access laws. Perhaps the Senator thinks it is fair that regular people are punished for choosing to run for office?
The Casey team apparently decided Romanelli needed to be eliminated from the political scene completely so he would learn his lesson well, and never come back to challenge an elite good ole boy like Casey ever again. Pennsylvania’s ballot access laws are so bad that if a candidate loses the fight to count the signatures, the laws say it is the loser’s responsibility to reimburse the state and the other team for the total cost of validating the signatures. For Carl Romanelli, Jr., the bill was over $80,000.00, which in Northeastern PA and some other regions of the US, can still buy a nice home.
Those with kind hearts suspect that if Bob Casey Jr. had a kind heart, he would have called off the dogs and would have ordered his team to “Lay off Romanelli!” Then, it stands to reason that nobody in the state would have bothered the Green Party challenger. However, Casey apparently was not a big enough man to ask that this “legitimate” penalty not be imposed on Romanelli. Casey, who claims he knows a lot about a lot, knew or should have known that at an international level, the ballot fairness bodies had already determined that Pennsylvania’s ballot access laws are the most unfair to regular people in all but Communist countries.
Despite this fiasco from 2006, PA lawmakers have still done nothing to change ballot access provisions. Shame on PA legislators who to this day have not fixed this! The Casey camp, to show they were not involved in the Bonusgate action against Romanelli could have helped this regular guy from being attacked by the state. It is a shame that Casey himself, who made no comments as he frequently chooses to do, did not cry “foul” to help a fellow Pennsylvanian. Instead, without a word, he permitted Carl Romanelli to be bankrupted by the actions of a corrupt process in which the Senator benefited substantially.
So, the Democrats ruined Romanelli financially with an $80,000 plus penalty for not surviving the punitive Pennsylvania valid signature gauntlet. Looking at the Romanelli case objectively, it is apparent that a few judges, who either did not know, or chose not to understand the meaning of democracy, helped the Casey team out quite a bit.
Almost six years later somehow, now Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. has been unaffected by Bonusgate. Yet, others, who supported Casey by green lighting the use of taxpayer dollars to defeat Romanelli, are in prison for their corrupt deeds. Though Casey paid all the corrupt PA staffers in Bonusgate, while he was the ranking financial person in PA—the State Treasurer, he was never indicted. While all of this was in process, I cannot recall Senator Casey being very visible. His M.O. continues to be a guy who relies on his good name and who can remain unknown behind the scenes, almost invisible, while others do his dirty work.
In 2010, you may recall that when the TEA Party was very active in PA, and across the country, Arlen Specter was challenged at a number of Town Hall meetings. Some people forgot that Pennsylvania had two Senators as the Junior, Bob Casey Jr. the other Senator from PA was MIA. The official word while Specter was getting hammered by the people was that Casey was on family vacations and would not have time to meet with constituents or the press as Specter had. Specter was run out of town for his support of Obamacare, but at least he had showed up. Bob Casey Jr. was not up for reelection in 2010, or he too would have been run out of town just as quickly, especially because he did not have the guts to face the people.
Casey has been mostly missing from his own campaign. Apparently, he plans more of his patented Senator Zero, Unknown Senator, and Invisible Senator, strategy. Anonymity seems to work for him. According to the Casey campaign, there has been no debate date set with Tom Smith. According to bob at PaPolitics.com, the reasons for no debate are because Casey does not think it may hurt him. Thus, hiding is a better option.
“Bob ‘Barack’ Casey will not debate Tom Smith because Sen. Casey is afraid what happened to the emperor with no clothes in Denver will happen to him.” I faced the same issue in the PA primary with Senator Casey. Casey would not debate me. The Senator comes off as lacking the guts to face the people or his challengers. He sure seems to love the pomp and circumstance of being Senator. Yet, just as surely, he does not appear to enjoy representing the people.
Rather than use his own energy and resourcefulness for his campaign, Casey may be saving his campaign cash for term 3 or 4 or 5. Analysts suggest that he has tied his success to the well organized effort going on at the 50 Obama offices across PA. The Senator expects that he can piggyback on Obama’s campaign and win the day from Tom Smith. He expects Obama to win the state and Casey expects that he will win in the same fashion that the Obama team is convinced they will win the state. Both Casey and Obama predict that a high turnout in big cities like Philadelphia will carry them to a huge victory.
I know that I plan to turn out for the election in PA, and I am not from Philly or Pittsburgh. There are many other Pennsylvanians like me in this state that are not from big cities and I am sure hoping that all Pennsylvanians come out to vote for America on November 6. In fact, I am hoping that the big city folks join US in making the right choices for Pennsylvania and America. Neither Bob Casey, nor Barack Obama are good choices.
I am a Democrat. Nonetheless, neither Casey nor Obama will get my vote. Neither has earned it. I am crossing over and I would encourage all Pennsylvanians to step up and make a decision that benefits our state and our country. Pennsylvania and America need conservative representation so that we can begin to see a real economic recovery with real job creation. Neither Casey nor Obama are capable of providing the leadership necessary for the US to recover and for we the people to begin again to prosper.
About Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly is a business owner and former assistant professor at Marywood University; he and his wife, Pat live in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Kelly ran for COngress and for the US Senate in his state and he believes limited government brings liberty and freedom. Brian's 48th book is