Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Book Shows When Republicans Fight Republicans

Lorraine Yuhasz. The Dwyer Case. Meadville, Pa.: Friends of Dwyer Committee, 1998.

This book seeks to clear the name of Pennsylvania State Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer, declaring he was honest yet worked in an atmosphere of political corruption. It warns that whistleblowers, as the book claims Dwyer was, will be struck down by this corrupt system.

This book presents information about the life and accomplishments of Dwyer. He had a leading role in creating the National Association of State Treasurers. As a State Treasurer, he learned about corruption in the Turnpike system and of the misuse of billions of dollars. The book argues he was set up as the fall guy when improprieties were discovered in the awarding of a contract to a company, CTA. After his conviction in the case, but before sentencing, upon which his pension would legally be stricken, he committed suicide. This suicide preserved his pension benefits for his family.

Dwyer served in the legislature before becoming State Treasurer. He was named Conservationist of the Year in 1972 and in 1978. As State Treasurer, he computerized operations. This allowed $119 million that was sitting idly in banks to be deposited and earn $19.5 million in interest income. A toll free waste line was created for people to report fraud and over 4,000 calls were received. Dwyer hired non-partisan professional employees and got rid of the previous system that required political sponsorship for Treasury employment. A check on illegal double dipping on welfare claims recovered over $800,000 in welfare fraud. Half of Bureau Directors that Dwyer hired were female or members of racial minority groups. A zip code presorting of mass mailings brought cost savings. In 1985, Dwyer made checks tamper proof. The new check system allowed checks to be printed at 30,000 checks per hour, almost double the previous rate. 91 investment portfolios were merged into one mutual fund. A Bureau of Internal Audits was created to improve department operations.

Dwyer maintained his innocence to the end. He believed we saw set up by fellow Republican Governor Richard Thornburgh in retaliation for Dwyer’s questions of Thornburgh’s and his wife’s expenses. He also noted his convicted co-defendant Robert Asher had also broke with Governor with Thornburgh for refusing to shift Republican State Committee funds by removing 25 staff people and putting the funds for their salaries into the Leroy Zimmerman for Attorney General campaign. Dwyer noted the U.S. Justice Department uses legal maneuvers to bankrupt and harass indicted people and they thus have a 95% conviction rate. Dwyer’s conviction hinged on a changed story in testimony from Bob Smith that he Smith offered a bribe to Dwyer to award his company CTA a contract. Dwyer insists Smith mentioned no bribe and that CTA would have won the contract without bribery. Smith admitted bribing others but the Justice Department wanted a bigger name, and Smith gave them Dwyer. Dwyer offered to take a lie detector test to prove his innocence, but the Justice Department declined the offer.

Smith testified he was pressured into the CTA case by John Torquato, who threatened to kill Smith’s son. Torquato was a drunk who made wild boasts, according to this book, who claimed he used bribery to gain influence. Smith originally stated under oath he did not bribe Dwyer.

Dwyer believed the CTA contract would recover $40 million into the Treasury more quickly. This speeded recovery would earn about $2 million in interest. He felt the contract stood on its own merits.


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