Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto says he was surprised to see how many state legislative staff members were indicted in the so-called Bonusgate scandal. Peduto says he thought the state Attorney General's probe would focus more on elected officials rather than staff members who were "just following orders." Among those staff members is Patrick "P.J." Lavelle, who once worked in Peduto's council office and ran his 2005 mayoral campaign. More recently, Lavelle worked in the office of former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon of Beaver Falls, who faces the most charges in yesterday's indictment.
Peduto says Lavelle has remained a friend. They have not spoken since the indictment, but Peduto has e-mailed him and advised him to find the best lawyer he can. He says people who know Lavelle know he's a good person.
Peduto also says he disagrees with the characterization of Lavelle's job in the grand jury indictment. Former co-workers say his job appeared to be completely political in nature. Peduto says he often spoke with Lavelle when he was looking for help or just an update about what was going on the General Assembly, especially around budget time.