Sunday, June 9

What Will Tom Corbett Do Next?

With the dismissal of Tom Corbett's NCAA lawsuit, some believe he should join with the alumni and others who are fighting the Freeh Report's validity and its use as a basis for the NCAA sanctions.  Don't hold your breath -- that's not going to happen.

Ray Blehar

On June 6, 2013, Judge Yvette Kane dismissed the Commonwealth (Corbett's) lawsuit against the NCAA, stating, "Each of the [the NCAA's] arguments is strong enough to render the governor's action under anti-trust law a Hail Mary pass."

I used the same "Hail Mary" description when I wrote about the governor's meeting with the former players back in January.  My reference was a bit different, however, as it was about the Governor's attempt to win back favor with the PSU fan base and PA's voters.

Anyone who believed Corbett's motivation was anything but political was fooling themselves.

The lawsuit was not about doing the right thing or about finding the truth.  The lawsuit was clear in continuing to place the blame for enabling Sandusky's crimes on former PSU officials Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz, and Tim Curley.  And the lawsuit made a hollow attempt - by keeping fines in the Commonwealth - at improving the state's failing child protection system.

The lawsuit did, however, give those whose primary concern is PSU football some hope about fighting the NCAA and voiding the sanctions.  It was a fight the PSU BOT was unwilling to take on and for the matter of months the lawsuit was active, one could say Corbett was doing more for PSU than it's own BOT (of which, ironically, he is a member).

What will Corbett do next?

Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship (PS4RS) urged the governor and his appointees to the BOT to join the small group of trustees who have taken up the fight against the Freeh Report.  PS4RS noted that with the addition of Corbett, his appointees, and the three newly elected alumni trustees, there would be a majority of trustees who stood in opposition to the Freeh Report.

There is little chance of that happening.

Corbett identified and recommended Louis Freeh to perform the sham investigation of the Sandusky scandal.  He praised Kenneth "OJ" Frazier for his leadership of the Special Investigations Task Force (SITF) and stated that Frazier had put together a team "on behalf of the administration" that was good.  For the record, the SITF included such stalwarts as Mark Dambly (who has a criminal record),  Keith Eckel (who didn't graduate from college), Ronald J. Tomalis (who denied a contract existed for the Freeh investigation), and Karen Peetz (whose made contradictory statements about the purpose of the Freeh Report).  Corbett considers these people as a  "good team," thus it's pretty clear whose side he is on.

However, always looming in the back of Corbett's head is the fact that the purpose for bringing in Freeh was to cover-up for the Commonwealth's (DPW and CYS) failure to bring Sandusky to justice in 1998.  There is no way Corbett wants to repudiate the Freeh Report to a level that would place the blame for enabling Sandusky's crimes where it belongs.  He has to stay aligned with the BOT members who are the defenders of the Freeh Report.

Checkers, Not Chess

I've said all along that Corbett is better suited for checkers, not chess.

He certainly didn't expect for his own Middle District judge to side against him on the Commonwealth's lawsuit.  And looking at Judge Kane's history, Corbett had every reason to think she would grant the Commonwealth standing in the case.

Judge Kane served as a Deputy Attorney General in the PA AG's Office under LeRoy Zimmerman and  Ernie Preate.  Both of these AGs have checkered pasts, as Zimmerman resigned in aftermath of the Hershey Trust Scandal, while Preate resigned after being charged with federal racketeering and corruption charges.  He eventually plead guilty to mail fraud and spent a year in Federal prison.  So, given her past associations, Corbett must have thought he had this one locked up.

However, Kane was appointed to the bench in by President Bill Clinton in 1998 and was made chief judge of the district in 2006.  And in this case, she correctly ruled that the argument that the threat of the death penalty as a threat to commerce "failed to advance the ball" in the antitrust world.

Corbett response to the ruling indicates he's unsure about what to do next.
"I am disappointed with the court’s decision and believe that the sanctions have harmed the citizens, students, athletes, alumni and taxpayers of Pennsylvania. Countless individuals and small businesses throughout the state will continue to suffer because of the NCAA’s actions.
“I feel strongly that the claims we raised in this lawsuit were compelling and these issues deserved a complete and thorough review by the court.
“I will continue to analyze the ruling with my legal team and review our options.’

Given Corbett's political bent, I suspect he will throw another "Hail Mary" and appeal the court's decision.  In fact, it is about the only option he has -- the other would be to stand down, admit defeat, and brace for a loss if he decides to run for re-election.

A recent poll indicated that with the lawsuit failing to gain traction, Corbett's approval rating is at an all-time low.  Those approving of Corbett's job are at 35% while those believing he deserves re-election is even worse at 32%.

If Corbett looks on the bright side, the 32% is 20 points higher than the amount of findings that Freeh got right (12%) in the his fatally flawed report that was used as the basis for the NCAA Sanctions.

But Corbett's next step is to appeal.  He needs it -- and for the process to be prolonged -- to keep alive his political lifeline.

Impact of Judge Kane's Decision on the Paterno Lawsuit

Boston attorney, Paul Kelly, correctly stated that the dismissal of the Corbett lawsuit has no impact on the lawsuit filed the the estate of the Paterno family, select trustees, faculty, alumni, and former players.  The Paterno lawsuit charges the NCAA and Mark Emmert with various contractual violations and defamation/public disparagement.  It is not related to anti-trust laws, thus Judge Kane's ruling will have almost no bearing on the case.  Kelly stated with regard to the Corbett dismissal, "This doesn't impact our decision to go forward with our lawsuit in any manner."


Corbett has little choice, from a political standpoint, other than to appeal the lawsuit and hope that the higher courts overrule Judge Kane's ruling.  While Corbett might stand a better chance with the higher court, I have a feeling this isn't the last time someone named Kane won't take Corbett's side on a legal issue.


  1. To use the nomenclature of the GJ Presentment, Corbett is Villain #2(only behind Sandusky). Corbett is both factually and symbolically #2. It was Corbett who gave Victim #2 his (mis)number, and as Ray has pointed out, that # was incorrect and designed to incite. IMO no principled person(like JP was) should in any way,shape or form align themslves with Corbett. To keep with the above numerology we shouldn't give 2 shits what he does.

    1. Who is worse is an interesting question.

      Sandusky, to my knowledge, has not been evaluated by psychologists to determine if he was a pedophile (i.e., clinical diagnosis from the DSM-IV) or if he had any other medical disorders (e.g., bipolar, dissociative disorder,or schizophrenia). The point being that we do not know if Sandusky was really in control of his actions or whether or not he was in a dissociative fugue or depersonalization situation when he committed his crimes.

      Conversely, we know that Tom Corbett was well aware of his actions.

    2. Please see Uncapturing a Friedman -
      for a case very similar to the Sandusky case.

      One can not look at 57 people keeping quiet about Sandusky while at Second Mile and after aging out of Second Mile and maintain Sandusky's guilt. The 57 coming out after Ken Feinberg rang the dinner bell is consistent with the fellows being greedy opportunists. Throw in Prosecutors willing to trade actions against the fellows for dirt on Sandusky and you get a rather disgusting mix.

      As I mentioned before, one can not, in my opinion, clear Paterno in the minds of the public and hold Sandusky guilty. The public wrongly believe Sandusky raped victim #2 in Paterno's shower room and conclude irrationally that Paterno condoned the rape. A similar mania led to the execution of 20 innocent folk in Salem in 1692. We don't have the mass executions now because we downplay that punishment in recent times.

      Although I disagree strongly with Mr. Blehar on Sandusky's innocence, I remain a fan of him. His work is of very high quality.

    3. WBill,
      Thanks for your comments -- and I am aware of the Friedman case.

      Unfortunately, your argument for Sandusky's innocence is defeated by none other than Jerry Sandusky, who admitted to John Ziegler that had he been aware that showering with minors was a crime, he would have stopped after 1998. Sandusky expressed disappointment that the DPW caseworker (Lauro) told him that he wasn't doing anything that he (Lauro) would consider abuse.

      I agree that many greedy opportunists showed up at PSU after they rang the dinner bell. I also agree that it is extremely difficult to unring the bell after the public was falsely told that McQueary witnessed a rape and reported the same to Paterno.

      I have faith that the current investigations will uncover the truth and, like the Duke Lacrosse Case, the bell will be unrung.

  2. Ray, Outstanding as usual! It appears to me as if Corbett is done, lawsuit and governor. I am waiting for the next ruling on the Paterno Lawsuit. I have read many comments by many different groups but have not seen anything as complete as you and Zieg have done with this situation. I wish I could contribute more but you guys are doing a fab job.

  3. Corbett's best move is to sue Erickson, Frazier, and Emmert for dereliction of fiduciary responsibility, fraud, and extortion. To do this, Freeh and Frazier go under the steamroller as expendable pawns. Desperate men do desperate things

    1. Corbett isn't going to sue the people he had working for him. I suspect that he got Frazier and others on the BOT to throw Spanier and the Athletic Department under the bus by threatening PSU with major budget cuts (like the one he proposed when Spanier was President). Interestingly enough, PSU's budget stayed level last year. Checkers, not chess.

  4. "In November 2011, the Board of Trustees announced the convening of a Special Investigations Task Force. Led by trustees Kenneth Frazier as chair and Ronald Tomalis as vice chair, the Task Force was comprised of University Trustees, a student, a faculty member and a distinguished alumnus."

    I am interested to learn more about the role that Ron Tomalis has played as his role as what seems to be an intermideiary between the BOT and the Corbett regime. It raises a red flag that Tomalis was just recently and suprisingly releived of his duties of Secretary of Education, as job that was appointed by Corbett in 2001. Some sources hypothesize Tomalis's dimsmal was a result of conflicts with Corbett's inner cirlce, specifically Corbett's cheif of staff Stephen Aichele (the 3rd cheif of staff Corbett has had since Dec 11). What is more suprising in Tomalis departure is the fact that he was retained by Corbett as a paid advisor at the same salary he recieved as Secretary of Education (almost 150k/yearly). Where is the transparency in the Corbett administration. Without transparency, and knowing what I know from Corbett from the Sandusky scandal, I think I have the right to assume something fishy. Has Tomalis been in contact with Kane???

    1. I haven't taken a look at Tomalis' role in the scandal, per se. Nor have I looked at the PA Department of Education yet. I will eventually get around to them as I work the circle from the inside out.

  5. Corbett doesn't need an appeal, he needs votes.
    Corbett controls 9 votes - 3 office holders & 6 appointments. 2 officeholders are out - tomalis & Allen. Corbett could appoint those who will vote his way. Corbett 9 plus 7 alums (2 in 2014 are against us) & he controls the board (16-14). No matter if every Ag & Business voted against us. He could reject the freeh report, determine Erickson had no authority to sign the decree, or require freeh to answer questions that contradict his report.

    also, the big difference b/w Paterno suit & Corbett suit is the filing in state court. Paternos bringing the case before an elected state judge that can be removed by the electorate is much, much more favorable than an appointed federal judge. Lets hope the case stays in state court.

  6. I left PA. The state government of PA, as it appears to the rest of our nation, must look like the most corrupt third-world country's government one can imagine. Basically, what's happened here with this Tom Corbett joining the PSU BOT to hire Freeh, was an egregious dictator-like abuse of power to frame ordinary citizens with the help of a professional set-up artist. And at over 8 million to this set-up artist, let me reiterate the word, "professional".

    I'm not sure how this sort of professional slander is accepted as legal in PA, but if it can somehow be shown that Freeh did lead a corrupt political leader to slander and falsely implicate innocent public parties, then this is the course of action that should be followed.