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We All Fall Down A Chronicle of an Impeachment Foretold

Watch the mayhem ensue when a Pennsylvania supreme court justice accuses a fellow justice of fixing cases for his municipal bond underwriter brother ...

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PA Gov. Tom Corbett's office caught attempting to silence Harrisburg debt critic


PLCB  memo cites Corbett's Office of Administration's
'determination' to silence state worker


Despite public denials, Gov. Tom Corbett's Office of Administration is deeply involved in attempts to silence a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board staff attorney who, on his private time, conducts community forums on the Harrisburg debt crisis.

By day, Alan Kennedy-Shaffer is an assistant solicitor with the PLCB.

By night, in his personal time, Kennedy-Shaffer is the founder and organizer of Harrisburg Hope, a group that has been instrumental in bringing public officials and citizens together to discuss the capital city's debt crisis.

On September 28, 2012, Kennedy-Shaffer received a cease and desist letter from the PLCB's Human Resource director ordering him to stop all off-hours work with Harrisburg Hope.

More than a year ago, Kennedy-Shaffer asked for "supplementary employment" approval to continue his role with Harrisburg Hope.

"After careful consideration by the Office of Administration and consultation with the PLCB's Chief Counsel's Office, I regret to inform you that I cannot approve your Supplementary Employment request to serve as President/Chairman of Harrisburg Hope, a registered Political Action Committee (PAC)," wrote Christopher O'Neal, LCB Director of the Bureau of Human Resources, to Kennedy-Shaffer in the September 28 letter.

In his letter, O'Neal cited Corbett's central Office of Administration as the origin of what amounts to a gag order on Kennedy-Shaffer.

"The Office of Administration has determined, and the PLCB's Chief Counsel's Office concurs, that your request is not permissible under the Governor's Code of Conduct (Executive Order 1980-18)," the September 28 letter reads.

"Specifically, Executive Order No. 1980-18 Amended, Code of Conduct, Part I A, states that no employee  shall, 'Engage in any political activity such as campaigning, fundraising, canvassing, or poll watching  during their work hours, or which has been determined  by the Secretary of Administration to conflict with the ability of the affected official or employee to effectively and efficiently carry out the duties and functions of his or her position.'

"Effective immediately, you are to cease all involvement in Harrisburg Hope and should provide confirmation as such to the PLCB Bureau of Human Resources by October 5, 2012."

Kennedy-Shaffer has appealed the work-place order.

Meanwhile, the Harrisburg Patriot-News took up Kennedy-Shaffer's cause.

In an article published on October 4, outgoing Patriot-News reporter Eric Veronikis wrote that, "Gov. Tom Corbett’s office and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board have ordered Alan Kennedy-Shaffer to cease all involvement with Harrisburg Hope, the grassroots community group he created to give city residents a voice in Harrisburg’s debt recovery process and other community matters. 

"On Wednesday, the PLCB denied his request in a certified letter, telling him that after 'careful consideration' by Corbett’s office of administration and the PLCB’s chief counsel, he was to cease and desist. 

"Despite the wording of the letter, however, a spokesman for the office of administration said the office had nothing to do with PLCB’s determination and that the PLCB’s letter simply was 'poorly written.'"

Having received a public denial of any involvement from the Corbett administration, or its Office of Administration (OA), in the attempted silencing of Kennedy-Shaffer, reporter Veronikis continued to look into the controversy.

Veronikis in the past week claims to have found a supporting memo from the PLCB's chief counsel stating, "This office finds no grounds to disturb the determination of the Office of Administration" in the Kennedy- Shaffer matter.

The memo as such refers to additional legal findings from Corbett's Office of Administration, which Corbett's press officer previously denied existed.

Harrisburg Hope, and Kennedy-Shaffer, hosted many community forums in the last few years concerning Harrisburg's debt crisis. Former Harrisburg Receiver David Unkovic had his first and last public appearances at Harrisburg Hope forums.

Kennedy- Shaffer and his forums have been widely credited with bringing about a change of heart with former Receiver Unkovic, who resigned this spring after calling for a criminal investigation of Harrisburg's debt, and implicating Gov. Corbett's office in a cover-up of that matter,

This Sunday, the Patriot-News ran an editorial defending Kennedy-Shaffer.

"Numerous local politicians -- from both sides of the political spectrum -- have participated in the forums. Some events are debates between candidates running for office (such as one scheduled for Oct. 15 between state Senate candidates Democrat Rob Teplitz and Republican John McNally); others are topical forums on city affairs. There are always a wide range of voices represented," the paper editorialized.

"This newspaper and others have praised the group for fostering community engagement. Some of the forums have had more than 200 people attend.
State employees are not supposed to be involved in campaigns and rightfully so. But that’s not what’s going on here.

"This sure sounds like an attempt to silence public debate. Fortunately, Kennedy-Shaffer has vowed to stick with Harrisburg Hope no matter what.

In a further wrinkle, Patriot-News reporter Veronikis has told friends on Facebook that he recently received word that he is being terminated from employment with the Patriot-News after December, due to the newspaper's announced downsizing and shift to internet operations.

Meanwhile, in hearings at the capitol last week, Gov. Corbett was implicated in covering up the ballooning Harrisburg debt crisis when he was state attorney general.

-- Bill Keisling

Posted October 10, 2012


Want to know more? Read these Yardbird bestseller:

The Sins of Our Fathers: Moments before shooting himself to death at a news comference, Pennsylvania Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer implicated the PA attorney general in a deadly bribery conspiracy. Two young writers investigate, and find dark secrets about their hometown. Read more >

The Sins of Our Fathers now available in Kindle ebook edition!
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Or buy The Sins of Our Fathers paperback edition now!

Revised Second Edition
with a new afterword
169 pages, perfect bound

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The Midnight Ride of Jonathan Luna: A year and a half before the disappearance of Pennsylvania DA Ray Gricar, Baltimore federal drug prosecutor Jonathan Luna mysteriously vanished from his office in downtown Baltimore, turning up dead in a stream in Lancaster, PA, stabbed dozens of times... Is it just us, or does it seem like lots of prosecutors are going missing in Pennsylvania? Read more >

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We All Fall Down A Chronicle of an Impeachment Foretold: "In We All Fall Down, writer William Keisling tells the story of the impeachment of Pennsylvania state Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen, a once-popular Pittsburgh jurist. Larsen is prosecuted by corrupt Pennsylvania Attorney General Ernie Preate, shortly before AG Preate's own conviction on federal mail fraud and corruption charges. Keisling's account suggests that Larsen's impeachment was a blemish on democracy that should concern all Americans. Keisling describes the breakdown of nearly every democratic institution in the state that cradled American democracy."

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