Mike Manzo is back on the stand this morning in the legislative corruption trial of former State Representative Mike Veon of Beaver County and 3 former aides. They're charged with using $1.5 million in taxpayer money for illegal campaign bonuses. Manzo,the former chief of staff for Representative Bill DeWeese who was House Democratic leader during the illegal bonus period, is cooperating with the prosecution as part of a plea deal.
Manzo testified that the Democratic caucus was focused on winning back the majority between 2004 and 2006, and used a bonuses-for-campaign work scheme to help achieve that goal.
Manzo said he “pushed, shoved, cajoled, and begged” House Democratic staffers to volunteer on campaigns, but only a handful of aides were doing political work during their spare time.
In 2004, Manzo says he approached Democratic Whip Mike Veon with the idea of paying tax-funded bonuses to staffers who volunteered, in order to incentivize other employees to do the same.
Most of Manzo’s time on the stand Tuesday was spent reviewing email exchanges about which staffers would be rewarded, and how much money each person would get.
In one note to Veon and others, he included a list of staffers he was recommending for bonuses based on factors including “outside activities, special, general, nader effort.”
That’s all campaign-related work.
Veon wrote back, “list looks good.”
He asked Manzo to add some staff to the spreadsheet because they “did lots and lots of extra nights and weekends” challenging presidential candidate Ralph Nader’s nominating petitions.