Local Lawmaker Charged
MUNCY – Early last week, former state representative, Brett Feese, 55, Muncy resident, resigned from his position as the state House Republican caucus’ chief counsel. Two days later he was charged with the misuse of public resources and employees for campaign purposes.
He reportedly retired as GOP general counsel for which he received $197,000 a year salary, making him the highest paid state official in Pennsylvania government. He was hired in 2006.
Since 2007 State Attorney Tom Corbett has been investigating Bonusgate, the misuse of government resources for improper purposes. He had already charged 12 Democrats and now has been under fire during his campaign for governor to ‘finger’ Republicans as well. Corbett has been probing state lawmakers for diverting public employees and other government resources to help win elections.
So far ten House Republicans have been charged last Thursday, November 12 including lawmaker, Brett O. Feese and state House speaker John Perzel for misusing taxpayer funds to help win political campaigns. It was discovered that the House Republican caucus spent more than 20 million dollars between 2000 and 2007 on many activities that benefitted political purposes according to presentment to the grand jury.
Corbett added that efforts to cover up the schemes have added time and costs to the investigation. “You’re interfering with justice,” he said last Thursday. “You’re interfering with people finding out what truly happened.” Charges are based on monies being used to buy voter data, computer software and services to buttress GOP campaign efforts and efforts to cover it up, Corbett added. Charges include theft, conspiracy, conflict of interest and obstruction of justice he announced during a news conference in Harrisburg on Friday.
All of the defendants are connected to the House Republican caucus.
Corbett recounted a series of contempt hearings in which his agents sought a judge’s help in getting House Republican leaders to produce requested information. Feese was accused of creating false, after-the-fact handwritten meeting notes in an effort to conceal his actions, Corbett said. He has been charged with 58 counts of conflict of interest, theft and conspiracy, two counts each of hindering apprehension and obstruction. Feese was fingerprinted and photographed on Friday at a police department just outside of Harrisburg. All ten defendants pleaded not guilty. They were ordered to relinquish any passports and agree not to talk to anyone mentioned in the 188 page grand jury report that was issued last Thursday, November 12.
A preliminary hearing to see if there is enough evidence for a full trial will probably take place in January or February of 2010, lawyers said.
As of this report, Feese is not responding and all questions are being referred to his attorney, Joshua Lock who has vowed to fight the charges. Bail has been set at $100,000.