The prosecution's key witness is on the stand for a second day today in the trial of former State Representative Mike Veon of Beaver Falls and 3 former aides. The are charged with several counts in connection with the grand jury investigation into illegal campaign bonuses paid to public employees for doing campaign work while on state time.
Mike Manzo, the former chief of staff for then State House Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese,today testified that House Democratic staffers, working on Veon's orders, challenged the nominating petitions of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader while they were supposed to be doing state legislative work.
DUQ Reporter Scott Detrow is covering the trial and says that Manzo testified that conducing opposition research was understood to be part of the job of legislative employees and that he (Manzo) directed supervisors to allow staffers to run up comp time so they could work on campaigns.
Manzo testified that he worked with Veon 5 times as much on a daily basis as he did with his boss, Bill DeWeese and that Veon "is one of the reasons I went into politics. He was just somebody I idolized in this business."
Manzo said that Veon called the shots in the Democratic Caucus even though DeWeese was the minority leader.
Scott Detrow reports that the defense has yet to begin what is expected to be a lengthy cross-examination of Manzo, and that could stretch into tomorrow.