Dem Ex-Pennsylvania Gov got 600K from Mobsters to Legalize Gambling


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Ed Rendell was the Governor of Pennsylvania until 2011 so this isn’t exactly ancient history and was considered a possible V.P. pick for Jim Kerry, alongside Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean.

It would have been hard to say whether Rendell would have turned out to be even more corrupt than John Edwards. But it’s certainly possible.

Q: How did you start investigating corruption in Pennsylvania gaming?

Birkbeck: As I said, I was following the DeNaples investigation while I was working with the Morning Call. When he applied for a casino license it was questionable from Day 1. I knew several state representatives and they were complaining to me and they were telling me how this vote to approve the casino legislation took place on July 4, 2004 and it was forced on them. Initially it was a small bill, 37 words, with no mention of slots. Suddenly, it was 140 pages long.

Sound familiar?

In most states, including Nevada and New Jersey, if you’re a convicted felon you can’t be part of the gaming industry. DeNaples had pleaded no contest in 1978 to defrauding the federal government of $525,000. That was after his first trial was fixed by James Osticco, who was Russell Bufalino’s underboss. Conveniently for DeNaples, someone put in a 15-year rule which meant he could apply for a gaming license.

Immediately after the legislation was approved, DeNaples announced he was buying Mount Airy Resort to build a casino, so clearly something was up.

Through the years, Pennsylvania had tried to introduce gaming to the state starting in the late ’60s. Every time there was a referendum Pennsylvania voters would say “no.” Those referendums were usually prompted by owners of the Pocono resort hotels and many of those resorts had mob ties.

The one thing I found at the time that was mind boggling: The amount of money that was going to Ed Rendell from people associated with DeNaples. DeNaples himself was barred from contributing, but there were people associated with him who out-of-the-blue were kicking in $50,000 to $100,000 to Rendell. From a handful of DeNaples’s friends, Rendell got over $600,000. There was clearly a flow of money going to Rendell at the time.

When he first ran for Governor, Rendell sold this casino law as a cure for rising real estate taxes. That’s how this thing was sold to the public. That was the lure. But my taxes haven’t gone down, not significantly anyway. Have yours? It was a scam from Day One.

It would be interesting to dig even deeper into Rendell’s tenure as Mayor of Philly where his PR campaign claimed that he had completely turned the city around.

But Rendell never really stopped taking questionable money.

A corruption investigation of public pension funds found that nearly $2 million was given in campaign contributions to elected officials who had influence over those investments. This included donations to the Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell, a Democrat, by Blackstone Group chairman Steven Schwarzman, whose firm managed $2.8 billion of the state’s funds and took $129 million in fees.

And dirtier money.

Capitol observers were astounded when Gov. Ed Rendell called Democrat fundraiser Norman Hsu, a felon and then-fugitive, “one of the best 10 people I’ve met.” They’re likely more astounded now.

Incredibly, Rendell last week backed off the statement at his first Capitol news conference since the Hsu scandal surfaced. The governor threw in a heavy qualifier.

“First of all … let me be clear: I said he was one of the 10 best people I’ve met in the field of political giving.”

I wonder where Rendell ranked DeNaples.

  • truebearing

    I’m shocked that Democrats are involved in corruption! Round up the usual excuses.

  • Stendec

    I’m from Philadelphia and it is well known around here that Ed Rendell is, and has been for years, on the take. The only two reasons he was touted back in the 1990′s as such a good mayor for Phila. is that (1) he followed Wilson Goode, someone so stupid he has to pull down his pants just to be able to count to one; and (2) Rendell very quietly pulled strings behind the scenes to get a tax assessment in controversy on the local newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, lowered by about 85%, plus have interest and penalties abated. After that, the word came from on high in Inqy headquarters–unofficially, of course–that there were to be NO negative stories whatsoever about Rendell during his tenure as mayor, and especially, no “hit pieces.” His record of “accomplishment” was almost all perception and not substantive. It was enough P.R., however, to get his wife Midge confirmed as a Federal judge (Clinton) not simply to U.S. District Court, but to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (only one level below the Supreme Court). The reality is that Midge Rendell is not bright enough either to light a five watt bulb, or to be a judge on American Idol; Judge Judy has twice the brain power of Midge, and Judy is only a half wit (though a rich half wit).

  • TheOrdinaryMan

    Pennsylvania has been a corrupt, one-party state, since FDR won the Presidency in 1932. At present, the salary of a Pa. state legislator is about equal to that of a U.S. Congressman; and they get over-the-top perks–free limo service, free haircuts, free postage, etc. The Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh is paid as much as the POTUS, and he gets free limo service, and a rent-free mansion to live in; while the university hikes tuition every year, needed or not. Not to mention all the corrupt labor unions, and city councils in Pa. Rendell corrupt? About average for the Quaker state.

  • pupsncats

    I fail to see this as surprising. Democrats are simply modern day gangsters. They operate with the same playbook as the Mob and frankly, are no different in any way.