Carl Romanelli, the Pennsylvania Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006 will seek legal redress in the courts against Democrats who threw him off the ballot using legislative staffers working on public time and with public resources. I asked Mr. Romanelli whether he and Ralph Nader would go to court following the testimony in the current trial of former Rep.Mike Veon and four legislative staffers. Many who pled guilty in the BonusGate scandal have testified to working on these ballot challenges while working inside the state capitol building and collecting taxpayer funded paychecks. His response:
Thank you for your questions, John. I cannot speak for Ralph, but I plan three different legal steps. The first is to file a victim impact statement with Judge Lewis. The statement is with regard to the guilty pleas entered last month. There are important issues that need to be on the record in this highly complicated matter.
Upon hearing from other witnesses in the Veon, et al trial, I plan to ask the Pennsylvania court for a new hearing in light of the continuing evolution of extraordinary information as to the extent of effort against my rights as a citizen and as a candidate.
Also, I believe a federal civil rights action is appropriate. This filing could be avoided by Casey or his lawyers doing the right thing and withdrawing the punitive action against Larry Otter and me. Since I do not expect such honor from the above mentioned, a federal filing seems likely.
Carl Romanelli filed petitions seeking a place on the ballot for the 2006 Senate election versus Republican Rick Santorum and Democrat Bob Casey Jr. Democrats worried the Green candidate would siphon off liberal voters from Casey, a conservative, anti-choice Democrat from Scranton. They challenged him in court with, as now know, the extensive use of legislative staffers in Harrisburg who were prohibited by law from performing such work with taxpayer resources and while being paid by taxpayers. The testimony provided the past two weeks regarding this has been extensive. Carl Romanelli and his attorney Larry Otter, were assessed with legal fees by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party totaling around $90,000, supposedly for the Democrats’ costs of mounting a successful challenge. Of course we now know the Democrats used public resources and not their own.
The two major political parties in Pennsylvania have made it extremely difficult for third parties to gain the ballot. They must collect petitions from tens of thousands of voters while the major parties need only a comparable few.
Back in 2006 Carl Romanelli sought to run as a Green Party candidate for US Senate in Pennsylvania. His ballot access petitions were challenged. He was tossed off the ballot. Later he was charged the costs of the challenger’s expenses. Pennsylvania is the only state to do this. It’s important to understand that that Romanelli was not fined, as he did nothing illegal.
Later it was revealed that some of the challenges were undertaken by state employees working on the taxpayer dollar on behalf of the Democratic nominee. Yesterday seven people pleaded guilty in this case. The story was reported at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The article includes this:
Observers in the courtroom included Carl Romanelli, who ran in 2006 as a Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate. Some of the charges in the Bonusgate case revolve around allegations that Democratic staffers worked on state time to challenge signatures on his election petitions in an attempt to knock him off the ballot and secure more votes for Democrat Bob Casey.
Yesterday’s guilty pleas were good news for third-party candidates who have a hard enough time running against majority parties when everyone plays by the rules, Mr. Romanelli said.
Carl Romanelli petitioned as the Green Party candidate for US Senate in Pennsylvania in 2006. He needed about 67,000 signatures and collected about 94,000. As the result of Democratic candidate Bob Casey Jr.'s efforts, Carl was thrown off the ballot and charged $80,000 in court costs. Since then a number of Democratic employees involved in the petition challenge have been arrested and charged with using public funds to target political opponents . . . which included Carl Romanelli.
Romanelli issued a press release, just days ago, challenging Bob Casey Jr to a basketball match for the money. Additionally Carl asked that President Obama invite him and Casey to the Whitehouse for a beer summit to work out their differences.
Carl's court case to set aside these fees goes back to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court in a few days.
Watch the LIVE INTERVIEW as Carl updates us on the story. Viewers will be able to ask Carl question via live text chat.
Frustrated by yet another setback in the Pennsylvania Courts, Green Party US Senate candidate, Carl Romanelli
is now asking President Obama to schedule "Beer Summit II" in order to attempt to resolve his ongoing saga. “We have tried everything possible in order to see justice here in Pennsylvania and we are running out of options,” Romanelli offered. He is referring to his long ordeal in the Pennsylvania Courts where, despite his gathering and submitting more voter signatures than any candidate in Pennsylvania’s history, Romanelli was not only displaced from the 2006 election ballot; but now has to pay more than $80,000.00 in costs and fees for the pleasure of being the victim of such a process. “It is time that the President weighed in on this, so I propose that he invite Senator Casey and me to the White House for a beer in an attempt to work matters out,” Romanelli suggested.
The situation in Pennsylvania is one of the strangest scenarios in all of politics, as it is now well known that in order to remove Romanelli from the 2006 ballot the lawyers for Bob Casey brought their challenge to the Green Party signatures by way of an illegal, taxpayer-funded process. The scandal has been dubbed Bonusgate as participants were not only providing attorneys for Casey with their work product while on state time and in state offices using state resources, but these employees also received state-funded bonuses for their effort. In his July 10, 2008 Presentment, which led to the arrest of ten legislative staffers and two former state representatives, the Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett says, “The two most outstanding examples of misappropriation of taxpayer resources in petition challenges were found in the challenges of Ralph Nader, for President in 2004, and Carl Romanelli, for US Senate in 2006.”