Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fumo jury deliberates, PA Senate equivocates

Jurors in federal court in Philadelphia have begun their review of 1,550 exhibits and testimony from 107 witnesses and it may be weeks before they decide the fate former State Senator Vincent Fumo, one of the most powerful politicians over several decades in Pennsylvania.

The 65-year-old Fumo faces 137 counts, most of them centering on his use of legislative staff for personal and campaign duties and his alleged looting of some $3.5 million from a nonprofit organisation he set up to advance civic projects in the City of Brotherly Love.

Fumo, apparently, got most of the love.

What have Senate leaders done to tighten the rules and close the loopholes in the two years since Fumo's high-profile indictment?

Not much, according to Philadelphia Inquirer writers Mario F. Cattabiani and Craig R. McCoy in yesterday's story:
Fumo case has not changed much in the Senate - yet

"They have tinkered. They have beefed up oversight of outside contracts. They have hired a management consultant. And they are weighing a long list of recommendations," the reporters noted of the Senate's response.

Tim Potts, co-founder of Democracy Rising Pennsylvania, a Harrisburg-area public-interest group, put it this way:

"The Fumo case created a foundation for the Senate to build a better government. Each count against him was part of a new building, and so far they don't even have a basement."

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