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PA Green Party seeks probe of bonuses for removal of Nader from 2004 ballot

GREEN PARTY OF PA DEMANDS INVESTIGATION OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Asks for expansion of investigation to 2006 records as well

Last night, the Green Party of Pennsylvania’s Steering Committee voted to demand an investigation of the Democratic and Republican Party’s activities since 2004. In a letter to State Attorney General Tom Corbett, the Green Party called for an immediate probe into the bonuses paid to legislative staffers for their work on behalf of candidates and for legal charges to be filed, if warranted. They also asked that the investigation cover 2006 activities, which did not initially seem to be the subject of concern.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette announced yesterday that staff members of the General Assembly’s Democratic Caucus were paid large bonuses — from public funds — for election-related work, even though they are prohibited from receiving such payments. In addition to electoral work on behalf of Democratic candidates, bonuses were also paid for work done to remove Independent candidate Ralph Nader from the 2004 Pennsylvania ballot. Today, similar allegations were made against Republican staffers, although there is no record of staff time spent on challenging the signatures of other candidates.

“This is by far one of the worst abuses of taxpayer money,” said Marakay Rogers, Green Party Steering Committee member and 2006 gubernatorial candidate. “To take money from the public coffers for the express purpose of rewarding anti-democratic behavior is despicable as well as illegal,” she added. Rogers withdrew her name from the ballot after being challenged by the Democratic Party for fear that she would be personally liable for exorbitant attorney fees.

“It is highly likely that this same payment scheme was used in 2006 when they threw me and my fellow candidates off the ballot, but we will probably never know,” said Rogers. Emails from 2006 were deleted from the legislative computer systems; however the 2004 and 2005 emails which document the payment scheme were retrieved by investigators.

The Green Party has long called for more transparency in government and an end to excessive bonuses for politicians and their aids. The Green Party was one of several groups that supported “Clean Sweep PA,” the popular campaign against the legislative pay raise of 2005.

“The entire system is clearly stacked against third party candidates and independent challengers,” said Bob Small of the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition. Not only do the Democrats and Republicans get to make the rules to keep challengers out, apparently they also get to use the public’s money to keep it that way,” he continued.

The Green Party of Pennsylvania is an independent political party that stands in opposition to the two corporate parties. The Green Party of Pennsylvania stands for grassroots democracy, sustainable economics, nonviolence, and ecology. The Green Party of Pennsylvania stands in firm opposition to the War in Iraq.

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Background information:

“E-mails show how Dems tied staffers’ bonuses to campaign work” By Dennis B. Roddy and Tracie Mauriello, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 16, 2007 http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07350/842079-85.stm

“Greens Urge Public Support For Nader And Romanelli Lawsuits Alleging Legal Abuse Of
Elections By Democrats” Green Party press release, December 14, 2007 http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=1

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