Monday, April 7




“In general, the most conventional form of a conflict of interest involves money—typically, an institutional decision maker has some kind of financial stake in the outcome of the decision.  A conflict can also arise when the decision maker has a non-monetary stake in the outcome of a decision—for example, a personal relationship, prestige, or career advancement.” 

by Barry Bozeman

Tom Corbett Embarrassed Trustee
Tom Corbett served as Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 2004 until he assumed office as Governor on January 18, 2011.

The Governor is automatically placed on the Penn State Board of Trustees. He also appoints six (6) members, in addition to his choices for PA Secretaries of Education, Conservation, and Agriculture, who sit on the Board along with a non-voting personal representative. This block of Trustees depends on the Governor for their positions, effectively making him the single most powerful presence in both voting power and influence.

Six (6) members of the Board are known as Business and Industry Trustees. These members are "self -selected" by an arcane procedure far from being transparent or apparent to those outside the process. Another six (6) members of the Board are known as Agriculture Trustees, who are selected through a county-by-county vote of the Commonwealth's agricultural societies (i.e., the PA Grange and the PA Farm Bureau).  We will discuss the business relationships of most of these members and the influence the Governor holds over them in our next installment.

Nine (9) members are elected by Alumni, the most independent and democratically selected group. That's only 9 members to attempt to balance 11 of the Governor's directly controlled members plus 6 each from Business & Industry and from Agriculture.

The elected Trustees include Joel Myers, CEO of Accuweather, and Jesse Arnelle, an attorney, who both serve now as they did in 2011 -- when they supported the disastrous decisions on November 9th. In addition, Cynthia Baldwin -- the Penn State attorney who sat in on the Grand Jury testimonies of Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, and Graham Spanier and who "claims" she was representing Penn State even though she gave them the impression she was representing them -- is an emeritus member of the Board of Trustees. There are 19 non-voting Emeritus Trustees. 

President Graham Spanier was the 33rd member of the Board on Nov 9, 2011, and the only board member who spoke out in defense of Penn State when he urged fellow members to stand behind Coach Paterno, Tim Curley, and Gary Schultz. Thus, Graham Spanier was the only member who stood publicly for what was right; and they fired him for it, in large part due to Tom Corbett's personal animosity for this political opponent.

Graham Spanier with Joe Paterno
A statement from Spanier called the allegations against Sandusky "troubling" and added that Curley and Schultz had his unconditional support.  He predicted they will be exonerated. "I have known and worked daily with Tim and Gary for more than 16 years," Spanier said. "I have complete confidence in how they handled the allegations......" 
As of today, the trials of Curley, Schultz, and Spanier seem to be on indefinite hold, as the Commonwealth's case appears to be falling apart.  

An argument can be made that, in addition to the 11 of 33 members of the Board of Trustees who are directly controlled by the Governor, an additional 11 or 12 Trustees have business interests that are significantly impacted by the actions of Commonwealth government.

Conflicts of interest occur when an officeholder puts his or her personal or financial interest ahead of the public interest. In the simplest terms, the official reaps a monetary or other reward from a decision made in his or her public capacity.
PENN STATE University Bylaws specifically state the rules concerning Conflicts of Interest:


Are you a reasonable observer?   Yes, of course.

Do you have sufficient knowledge of relevant facts and circumstances?  All I need is in this weblog.

Do you not see an actual or apparent conflict of interest?  I would have to be blind to miss it.

There is no question that John Surma had a specifically addressed "conflict of interest" when it came to Coach Joe Paterno. The Bylaws specifically state that conflicts of interest extend to family, friends, and associates. John's brother, Victor J. Surma, made this statement on a message board for PSU football players: 
 Victor Surma <vsurma8215@> wrote: “The Rat has hurt so many young men; destroyed their self esteem, ruined their confidence, etc.  I feel it is my obligation to expose his fraud to the national media before he checks out. I'm starting with the Pittsburgh Reporter and hope to take his fraud national!! I hope you understand. I was a 3 year letterman–have no axe to grind–just want to set the record straight on the RATS legacy.

There is no question that John Surma's brother, Victor J. Surma, wanted to expose Joe Paterno as a fraud. So John Surma did not have to share his brother's antipathy for Joe Paterno in order to violate the bylaw concerning a conflict of interest. Since Victor Surma had an interest in seeing Joe Paterno exposed as a fraud, his brother John Surma had no choice but to step aside. He was obligated by the Bylaws to recuse himself -- to leave the meeting while the matter was discussed. We know from previous entries on this website -- including THE SURMA VENDETTA, Part II, and The Surma Vendetta Revisited -- that John Surma indeed shared his brother's antipathy toward Joe Paterno, making him ineligible to attend, much less chair, any meeting concerning Joe Paterno.

Board Chairman Steve Garban recused himself from the discussion. He considered his history as a former football player under Paterno to be conflict enough.  John Surma not only failed to recuse himself, but this Vice-Chairman  took over as Chair and presided over a meeting he should, per the bylaws, have left.

The most common conflicts of interest concern monetary or other financial rewards but that is not the only type of conflict. Political influence and personal antipathy also result in conflicts of interest. Although the conflicts we are going to reveal here are primarily about political influence and personal antipathy, there is a monetary aspect that will be discussed in the next edition of this series.

Let's try to make this as clear and simple as possible:  Tom Corbett, as Attorney General, initiated the investigation of Jerry Sandusky with the convening of a Grand Jury in 2009. That Grand Jury process, directly managed by Tom Corbett, heard the testimony that resulted in the indictments of Jerry Sandusky, Penn State AD Tim Curley, and VP Gary Schultz. The indictments of Curley and Schultz, along with the inclusion of Coach Joe Paterno and the later indictment of President Graham Spanier, made this case into the PENN STATE CHILD SEX SCANDAL. For two years, Corbett ran the investigation and controlled the flow of testimony to the Grand Jury that eventually resulted in extreme damage to the reputation of Penn State and a massive cost of over $200 million.

In January 2011, Corbett was sworn in as Governor and assumed his role as PSU Board Member, along with the power to appoint 9 voting and 2 non-voting positions on that Board.  That created a situation whereby 11 of 33 members were directly beholden to Corbett for their positions on that Board.

The Board of Trustees is the official voice of Penn State University, which has been given the responsibility of protecting the best interests of Penn State on behalf of the students, alumni, faculty, and staff.  Then came the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania indictments against Athletic Director Tim Curley, Vice President Gary Schultz, and eventually President Graham Spanier -- and by association and involvement, head coach Joe Paterno. These are significant employees of Penn State University, and their guilt or innocence directly affects the liability of Penn State for any actions they may have taken. For all legal intent, they are Penn State, under attack by Tom Corbett's utilization of the grand jury process.

Attorney General Tom Corbett's grand jury crafted the indictments, making him the person most responsible for the Commonwealth's case against Penn State.  Governor Tom Corbett controls the largest block of Trustees, making him the person most responsible for protecting Penn State from his indictments. Has there ever been a clearer conflict? 

How is it possible that this Governor and his appointees, along with every Trustee whose business interests are affected by his decisions as Governor, did not immediately exclude themselves from taking part in deliberations concerning the decisions made in November of 2011 and anything subsequent concerning the Grand Jury Presentment and indictments?

People seem to think this Board of Trustees is too big and too independent to be controlled by one or two members. But, with John Surma taking over for Steve Garban as Chairman and with Tom Corbett's direct control of one-third of the Board and indirect control over another group of members as a result of the impact of Commonwealth decisions on their business interests, it didn't take much to exercise control. All Corbett had to do was to whisper to key members that the Presentment was just the tip of some legal iceberg. Would "WMD" hidden all over the campus be discovered if they failed to preemptively remove Paterno and Spanier? Who wouldn't believe that Corbett, as Attorney General, would know where all the "yellow cake" was buried?

All that a truly independent Board of Trustees needed to do was to make a statement saying that Penn State would cooperate with any investigation and then wait until the legal process was complete. The employees of Penn State are innocent until proven guilty; and that guilt or innocence should decide to a great extent what, if any, liability Penn State has in this matter. Jerry Sandusky had not been an employee of Penn State for 11 years, and the only charges involving dates during his years employed at Penn State had been investigated in 1998 by the Commonwealth's Department of Public Welfare. The preemptive virtual acceptance of guilt by the Board would do nothing to stem the tide of damaging publicity that gave the meeting of November 9, 2011 the aura of a major crisis.

Information we are now seeing revealed in the information provided by Ryan Bagwell, a candidate for Trustee (picture left) - particularly the messages concerning any attempt to honor Coach Paterno's legacy - were nixed by Penn State's CONFLICTED BOARD OF TRAITORS.

Tom Corbett and Ken Frazier engineered the hiring of the FREEH Fiction writer and former FBI director over a more palatable alternative. Emails reveal that Corbett spoke with Attorney General Linda Kelly regarding the investigative task force. This collusion between Corbett and the prosecutors in going after Penn State administrators resulted in the hiring of Louis Freeh, who became a support source for those directly accusing Penn State of being liable for damages.  

Nobody was looking out for the best interests of Penn State with the hiring of Louis Freeh, and what a complete disaster that turned out to be! This CONFLICTED Board actually voted to pay out $6.5 million Penn State dollars to a man who might as well have led Penn State to the gallows and fixed the rope around its neck. The Freeh Report supports the actions of Tom Corbett, John Surma, and the Board of Trustees and is, on its face, a paid cover up justifying the gross malfeasance of the Board's decision. Freeh was no independent investigator out to find the truth. Freeh was a paid operative of the Board and the Governor, in collusion with the Attorney General, out to condemn Penn State -- a hit job he did with gusto, despite obvious ineptitude. The Board repaid his effort by accepting the "report" without even bothering to read and review its contents. The NCAA then swallowed it whole and spit out sanctions that cost Penn State even more in money and damage to its impeccable reputation.

The hiring of Louis Freeh is synonymous with an institution paying $6.5 million to concoct evidence supporting its own guilt and liability. Why would any institution in its right mind fund such an effort? It's insanity, clearly demonstrating the conflicted interests that are the point of this article. The Freeh insanity depicts Penn State as a schizophrenic trying to convict itself of a crime imagined in the fevered mind of its own alter-ego, the Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees clear duty was to hire an investigator charged with finding every shred of exculpatory evidence that would clear Penn State of any liability. That was what would have been in the best interest of Penn State. That was the fiduciary duty of each member of this Board of Trustees.

At this point, the chance of the Commonwealth convicting any Penn State administrator of any wrong-doing is negligible. With Mike McQueary and Cynthia Baldwin as the only possible witnesses for the prosecution, the only mystery is why the Attorney General has not already dismissed the charges. When that ends, Penn State will still be out millions in liability costs and millions more in an insane Freeh "investigation" and the resulting NCAA sanctions. That makes the 2011 Board of Trustees either terminally inferior or criminally culpable. With no convictions of anyone employed by Penn State, any liability on the part of the university for Sandusky's crimes would be minimal. When Graham Spanier wins his defamation suit against Louis Freeh, the insanity of the 2011 Board's decisions will become a national joke.

Al Clemens, a Gubernatorial appointee in 2011 resigned from the Board in early March with some dignity, making a public statement about the firing of Joe Paterno:

"That was a mistake. I will always regret that my name is attached to that rush to injustice.  Hiring Louis Freeh and the tacit acceptance of his questionable conclusions, without review, along with his broad criticism of our Penn State culture was yet another mistake."
At least one member of that board was wise enough to come to his senses and honest enough to state the TRUTH.

When it comes to conflict of interest violations of the Board's own bylaws, the Paterno and Spanier firing decisions that have caused such unprecedented damage were clearly done in violation of those bylaws. Is there no penalty or redress for such obvious violations? What is the remedy for violating those bylaws? If Penn State was liable for damages to Sandusky's victims, who is liable for the damages to Penn State?  Since John Surma was an employee of US Steel,  Karen Peetz was an employee of BNY Mellon, and Ken Frazier was an employee of Merck Pharmaceuticals, perhaps those companies should hire Louis Freeh to investigate their liability?

This article should leave you with a clear obligation. Penn State needs to elect trustees who will not sweep these terrible mistakes by conflicted members of the Board under the rug. Electing the Upward State slate of candidates will only condone the damage done by Surma, Corbett, and the Board of November 2011.  For Penn State to rectify the damage done, the election of candidates like Ryan Bagwell, Robert Jubelirer, Al Lord, and Alice Pope is absolutely essential.

As a PSU Board candidate, Bob Jubelirer said in a recent statement: "Former Trustee Al Clemens showed leadership by acknowledging his terrible mistake in rushing to judgment and voting to fire Coach Paterno on November 9, 2011.  I believe the time will come soon when more trustees will join Clemens in recognizing their rush to judgment and uniting Penn State nation together again." We couldn't agree more, Bob.  Those 2011 Trustees need to be held accountable for their actions. 

PICTURES OF THE TRUSTEES with their affiliations are available at this LINK
So take a look at the current Board of Trustees:



Did Tom Corbett know Mike McQueary was coerced to support the false assertion that he had witnessed an anal rape?

Did Corbett support a deal to give immunity to Mike for gambling on Penn State football games?

How far was Corbett willing to go to get rid of Graham Spanier?


  1. You forgot a BIGGIE:

    Merck and Ken Frazier were still in negotiations with the Pennsylvania OAG over Vioxx at the same time that Frazier served as the chairman of the SITF. After the Freeh Report was wrapped up, Merck got a sweetheart (only ~$8.5 Million in fines) of a settlement from the OAG.

    WHY would Frazier be allowed to serve as head of the SITF, when it was clear Freeh was working with the OAG, and Frazier was negotiating with the OAG at the same time?

    1. That's coming up in part II covering the business arrangements and conflicts of certain Trustees and the legal deal made with McQueary

  2. Bob Jubelirer, former President pro tempore of the state Senate, was defeated in the Primary election of 2006. Most people in the state Capitol knew that Jubelirer along with Mike Long ran Republican senate political campaigns out of the Capitol Building. Corbett gave the senate a pass and attacked the Democrat lead House in a case known as "Bonusgate" and later the Republican "Computergate" case. Corbett said he was investigating all four caucuses of the General Assembly, but the senate and Jubelirer walked. Jubelirer has a conflict of interest in the favorable treatment extended to him by Corbett, as Attorney General.

    1. Not sure I follow you. elroy - by that logic it seems all Republican office holders in PA would be conflicted and I don't see that as a conflict per say. The conflicts that I've focused on in this article pertain to Corbett as AG initiating the actions that put PSU in the position of needing to defend against indictments. And Corbett the Gov / PSU BOT member would have to defeat the intent of Corbett the AG. Surma's conflict was personal antipathy for Paterno. Although I happen to be a Yellow Dog Democrat I can't see disqualifying every Republican or Democrat because the AG might be a member of their political party. Taking it to that extreme would leave us with no one free from a conflict due to their political affiliation.

    2. What kind of varmint is a Yellow Dog Democrat? I thought that only Bluetick Coonhounds ran around Knoxville. Ole Corbett and his hatchet man Frank Fina are sure howling like one.

      Kathlene Kane has become an enigma inside a puzzle inside a paradox. She is in an all out war with Corbett and Fina, but she is determined to prosecute Spanier, et al, to the bitter end. She renewed McQueary's license to lie as evidenced by his coached testimony at the preliminary hearing. She has put herself on the tines of two forks, and when Moulton's report comes out, she is going to be in a vicious crossfire. Depending on the timing of the report, it looks to be a bloodbath. How anyone paints themselves into a corner and into a lose/lose proposition is beyond understanding.

    3. Never heard canines referred to as "varmints".
      Curious why you think she's so determined to "prosecute to the bitter end". And I wonder how you would know that she "coached" McQueary. The enigma here seems to be your comment. My take is that she's forced to walk a fine line in all of this since her office inherited the indictments. I'm not privy to what she's thinking but she has to deal with the indictments,,Fina and the Governor - and that's not by her choice. We've seen what happened when she terminated one dead investigation Hard to imagine what dropping the PSU indictments might bring. I think making Fina prosecute an obvious looser like the CSS trial could be a good thing. Better a public acquittal than charges dropped on a technicality that would be questioned? Hard to say.

    4. I agree that Kane had nothing to do with anything McQueary said at the preliminary hearing in July and that she is walking a fine line on this case -- politics being what they are in PA. As Barry notes, she was roundly criticized for dropping an unprosecutable case, so the fallout of her dropping the Conspiracy of Silence case would be like that of an atomic bomb. I think the same goes for Judge Hoover, but eventually someone might actually consult the law and realize that the FTR charges were clearly attributed to the wrong people in this case, as were the EWOC and obstruction charges. All the Commonwealth would have left is perjury and quite a few of those charges should be tossed.

    5. Bob Jubelirer led the Republican controlled state Senate for many years. He is a masterful politician. Corbett ignored the state Senate during his investigation of the General Assembly so as not to lose the Senate to the Democrats as he ran for Governor.

      At this critical juncture in the voting for BOT, a critical review of the Corbett/Jubelirer relationship is warranted. Jubelirer owes his freedom to Corbett's politics.

    6. So you don't think that the new term "molestation of a child" was put into McQueary's mouth by prosecutors, and that Kane had absolutely no control over what her star witness said? Interesting. Agree that she is walking a fine line, but Confucius say "Man who walk down middle of street get hit with bus going both ways".

    7. The testimony of the prosecution witnesses at the July 2013 preliminary hearing can be summed up in two words: Train Wreck. McQueary giving yet another version of the story, this time with the Old Main screwed up/Lookout for Baldwin twist, isn't something the prosecutors came up with. I believe that was Mike's creation. If anything, prosecutors want consistency - even if it's a consistent lie. Changing the story doesn't help Mike's credibility at all.

      I have a blog coming up that will explain how Kane got to where she is in this case.

    8. "Her star witness"? There you go again with the presumption she wants this case at all. McQueary is totally useless as a witness. CSS will actually have competent representation that will completely destroy McQueary's multiple memories. He is a classic example why lawyers and prosecutors want witnesses to keep it zipped. I wold love to do the cross on McQueary - The only other potential witness for the prosecution is Baldwin - and her situation is even worse than McQueary's if that's possible.. It will be an absolute miracle if CSS got convicted - there is no case and it would take a jury of 12 taking McQueary and Balwins word (or make that multiple contradictory words) over CSS. Don't know why you're even concerned about the CSS trials. I keep hoping they aren't dropped so this whole mess gets a public airing with the deck stacked in our favor.

    9. elroy - you are probably completely correct about the political machinations in the PA state house - so what? Jubelirer has reached out to me and passionately confirmed his agreement with our position on Corbett's conflicts of interest and his resolve to hold the BOT accountable for what happened on Nov 9 2011. He had already won the PS4RS endorsement - if you wanted to sway people against him you're already too late. Should have been done with PS4RS before the primary selected him as an endorsed candidate. We support candidates willing to publicly announce their resolve to hold the 2011 board accountable and acknowledge they made a mistake like Al Clemens did. I don't have either the resources or the inclination to get into Dem vs Republican statehouse games.

  3. If there is no case, why did a judge allow it to go forward, calling it a "Sad day for Penn State" ? Why did Kane appear on TV stating that she expected convictions?? Why is Kane going to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars prosecuting a case that will absolutely destroy her if she looses?

    1. 1. The judge was an idiot. Most PSU people WANT the trial to go forward because we might actually hear the truth.

      2. I would expect any prosecutor to say that he/she expected convictions in a case he/she was prosecuting.

      3. I don't think losing this case will affect her one way or the other. She didn't put the evidence together or decide to charge the case. She was painted into a corner politically to prosecute it.