Thursday, February 4, 2010

Key Witness on Stand for a 3rd Day

While all of Mike Manzo’s first day on the stand in a legislative corruption trial was focused on Pennsylvania House Democrats’ bonuses-for-campaign work scheme, the one-time top staffer testified about other political activities carried out on state time during his second day of testimony.
Manzo is the former chief of staff for Representative Bill DeWeese, who was Democratic caucus leader during the illegal bonus period. Manzo, who is testifying for the prosecution as part of a plea deal, said “it was understood” that campaign work like opposition research and fundraising was part of the job for many House Democratic staffers.
He told jurors how former Democratic Whip Mike Veon told him to use state employees to challenge presidential candidate Ralph Nader’s nominating petitions in 2004, in order to help Democrat John Kerry’s campaign.
Most of Manzo’s time on the stand was spent explaining scores of emails he exchanged with Veon, defendant Brett Cott and other House Democratic staffers.
The notes covered everything from organizing campaigns’ phone banks to coordinating public relations and analyzing polling data.
Deputy Attorney General Marc Costanzo says the notes show the defendants were more interested in politics than legislating.

"This was the campaign activity that the various employees were engaged in. and I think the picture that should be painted by the numerous emails was that this was a full-time operation."

The defense gets its chance to question Manzo today.

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