Two more corrupt officials convicted; did The Philadelphia Inquirer tell you they were Democrats?

It’s on the front page of today’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

Kickback charges for 2 Pa. judges¹

By John Sullivan, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

SCRANTON – Two top Luzerne County Court judges took kickbacks to place juvenile offenders in detention centers, even ordering some to be locked up against the recommendations of probation officers, federal authorities said yesterday.

President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Judge Michael T. Conahan agreed to a plea deal that would send them to prison for seven years, according to an agreement filed in federal court Monday.

The judges allegedly concealed $2.6 million in payments from one of the owners of the centers and an unnamed person, authorities said. At the same time, the judges also worked to ensure that the facilities reaped millions of dollars in business by sending them a steady number of juveniles.

But, while there’s much more at the link, the information you won’t find at the link is: to which political party do the two judges belong?

Naturally, upon reading this, I had to wonder: were these crooks Republicans, or were they Democrats? The information wasn’t easy to find, but it did exist.

Times Leader, The (Wilkes Barre, PA) – Sunday, February 28, 1993
Author: DIONNE PEEPLES-SALAH; Times Leader Staff Writer

WILKES-BARRE — Hazleton District Justice Michael Conahan , 41, cq said integrity and independence are important qualities of any judge. If elected as Luzerne County Judge he said he will work hard to uphold them.

Amid a crowd of family and friends, Conahan , a Democrat , announced Saturday that he would seek election to the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas.

And for the other convicted felon:

Times Leader, The (Wilkes Barre, PA) – Friday, April 7, 1995
Author: JIM VAN NOSTRAND; Times Leader Staff Writer
WILKES-BARRE — Mark Ciavarella Jr . won’t need any on-the-job training to be a Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas judge, he said Thursday.

Nineteen years as a local attorney and 132 trials, mostly civil cases, have given him the experience and temperament required to wear a judge’s robes, he said.

“I believe I can make an impact and a difference,” Ciavarella told The Times Leader’s Editorial Board. “I’m not going to need someone to teach me to be a judge.”

Ciavarella , 44, of Wilkes-Barre, is running against attorneys Joseph Giovannini, Joseph Yeager and Thomas Cometa for the seat now held by Luzerne County Judge Gifford Cappellini.

The job pays more than $93,000 a year, counting recent cost-of-living increases. The term is 10 years.

Cappellini will step down in December when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. He can still serve as a senior judge.

A registered Democrat , Ciavarella has cross-filed on the Democratic and Republican tickets for the May 16 primary. His opponents cross-filed as well

In Pennsylvania elections, judicial candidates can cross-file under both parties, and at least Judge Ciavarella did, but both men are registered to vote as Democrats.

I wonder why the Inquirer didn’t tell us this? :)

Our friends on the left — Amanda Marcotte would be one — like to make the claim that political corruption is a Republican problem, citing the unfortunate cases of former Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK), Larry Craig (R-ID) and former Representatives Bob Ney (R-OH), Randy Cunningham (R-CA) and Mark Foley (R-FL). Being that they were all in Congress, their ethical problems made national news.

But when you get to state and local officials, the Democratic label seems more prominent: fFormer Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, former State Senator Vincent Fumo of Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon Mayor Sam Adams², Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, Birmingham, Alabama Mayor Larry Langford, Newark, New Jersey Mayor Sharpe James, and more; the Grey Ghost is good at documenting this stuff.

Some of Patterico’s commenters on this thread seem to think that no, the professional media aren’t really biased, and that it’s just we wicked conservatives who think that. But can you imagine The Philadelphia Inquirer failing to mention that two convicted judges were Republicans if they had actually been Republicans?

Me neither.

¹ – The Philadelphia Inquirer, Tuesday, 27 January 2009, p. A-1. The headline on the website is different from that in the print edition; I have used the print edition headline above.
² – Two separate stories in The New York Times, here and here, fail to disclose that Mr Adams is a Democrat, but this Associated Press article mentions it.


  1. What’s so “unfortunate” about any of the situations you cited? They are not unfortunate, they are criminal. If Larry Craig slipped on some loose toilet paper and hurt himself as he left the bathroom stall, that would be unfortunate.

    UNFORTUNATELY, neither side has a monopoly on character. There are plenty of criminals on both sides of the aisle.

  2. Nitpicky: I’d excise Adams and Craig from that list. Sex scandals are pointless exercises in media prurience and thus don’t count in my book. And I’m disappointed in your failure to include Jackson, MS mayor Frank Melton (D), who may not be doing anything illegal but is completely insane.

    Anyway, Democrats tend to be more prominent in urban areas, so it makes sense that urban corruption will ensnare more Democrats than Republicans. (Especially in a blue state like PA.) Congress had been Republican for 12 years before 2006, so obviously you’d have more corrupt Republicans than Democrats on the national level.

    My point is that in any given political system, the party in power is going to be the party with the most corrupt people. There’s no point in buying a powerless minority rep or a mayoral candidate that, due to his/her party affiliation, has no shot at winning. Mike’s right. There are probably plenty of Republicans in PA that would be corruptible if they actually had power.

  3. Oh, and at least in NC, judges are non-partisan, so their party affiliation wouldn’t be mentioned in a news story. Same with mayors here – that may be the case in PDX too.

  4. Hell virtually all of the “mayor against guns” contingent(Bloomberg’s gang)have been indicted…….and they’re Democrats of course.

  5. The most prominent of the local Democratic scandals was not mentioned – Blago.

    I’m willing to give the Philadelphia Inquirer the benefit of the doubt: they don’t mention party affiliation because they assume we all know that the offenders are dirty Democrats.

  6. PP: Yeah, well Governor Blagojevich simply goes without mention; I couldn’t list everybody, and surely everyone who pays enough attention to politics to read this poor site knew about Mr Blagojevich’s problems.

  7. There are Republicans who have committed crimes while in office. There are Democrats who have committed crimes while in office. Dana Pico will agree to those statements. What he was pointing out, for those who are attempting to muddy the waters, is the fact (R) is always noted in the stories of Republicans in office committing crimes while (D) is almost never noted in those stories.

    That is the important part of this issue. MSM will giddily point out (R) done bad. When it comes to (D) doing bad, MSM will point out Office-holder done bad but will not volunteer the fact that Office-holder happens to be (D). That is the important part of this whole thing.

  8. What should concern citizens is not some sexual misbehavior that involves consenting adults but criminal behavior that involves enrichment. This includes former Representative Cunningham.

    Pennsylvanians did send Krooked Kanjorski back to Washington.

    The bipartisan figleaf that is often appended to judges is a joke. The process in Maryland may not be unique. Most of our judges were political hacks appointed by Democrat governors. They run for office as ‘sitting judges’ in the first election to follow their selection and allegedly ‘run on their record’. Where such a record is available remains a mystery. They cross-file and run in both party primaries. It is considered to be highly improper to challenge such a ‘sitting judge’ but a few thug-huggers got the boot in Maryland a few years ago and some in the legal committee were aghast.

    The major reason for Chicago vote rigging was the selection of the finest judges money could buy. The Pennsylvania Hacks in Black seemed to be relative pikers. Too bad that they will not be in the general population.

  9. In Pennsylvania, judicial candidates can run on both the Democratic and Republican lines, via the primaries. At least one of the convicted felon judges did just that. But both had registered to vote as Democrats. To me, that makes them Democrats!

    Mr Hitchcock had the right of it: the point of the article was to note that the professional media are very good at telling their audiences that Republicans who run afoul of the law are Republicans, and not quite so diligent about party labels when it comes to Democrats.

  10. Emoticon test:

    :) :( :d :”> :(( \:d/ 😡 8-| /:) 😮 😕 :-” :-w 😉 [-( :)>- #:-s (~~) **== *-:) o:-) 3:-o :(|) :)) :-ss <):) :d< @};- [-o< ^:)^ #-o $-) %%- (%) (*) (:| 8-x 8-} :-$ :-& :* :-\ :- :-@ :-b :-j :-l :p :-s 😐 :o) :@) :^o ;)) ;;) =(( =)) =d> =p~ >-) >:) >:/ >:p @-) b-( b-) |-) l-) o-+ o-> o=> x( [-x ~:> ~o) =;

  11. …and not quite so diligent about party labels when it comes to Democrats…

    Whenever an idiotic ruling comes from a judge, there is a 95% chance that the hack in black was a Clinton or Carter appointee. We had one recent ruling in which a ‘senior judge’ who was an LBJ appointee appeared to have been released from a nursing home to sentance a once-prominent Democrat to ‘time served’ for a felony. The affair involved a mere ~$2 million and we are not certain if it was a bribe, fraud, or mere tax evasion.

  12. Pingback: Common Sense Political Thought » Blog Archive » Who runined his life?

  13. Pingback: Instapundit » Blog Archive » NOT THE JUDICIARY’S FINEST HOUR: The setting is Pennsylvania coal country, but it’s a story right…

  14. This is a by-product of Bush’s disrespect for the law. After all, Bush detained people for years for no reason whatsoever, so why shouldn’t these judges think they couldn’t do the same? Of course, everyone wants to point out they are Democrats to deflect from the real cause of this, Bush.

    Sadly, there are millions of people who would read the above and nod their heads the whole way.

  15. I always assumed the adjective describing political party was only needed when describing something outside the norm.

  16. I was searching to find out their party affiliations as since no one mentioned it I was sure they were left wingers

    and sure enough they are

    good job blogger!!

  17. Re: Brian G

    If polled I’m sure the majority posting here would say, “protect our American children from greedy judges and to hell with the taliban who wash their hands in American blood.” You’re a democrat defender plain and simple… Your moronic comparison is proof.

  18. Sadly, there are millions of people who would read the above and nod their heads the whole way.

    That’s the key sentence in Brian G’s comment. Reading that will bring clarity to the rest of his comment.

  19. Pingback: Daily Pundit » The Party of Corruption

  20. This is one of the most shocking stories of the year. Our children are being harvested to private prisons for profit by judges.
    This story clearly illustrates that greed has perverted our most sacrosanct government institution – the criminal justice system. Not only is it corrupted, but it has been used as a tool to illegally confine and abuse innocent adults and children in ever increasing numbers.

    During the past 25 years it has created the largest prison population in the world, now housing 25% of the world’s inmates, more than 2,500,000 adults.
    The Federal Bureau of Prisons budget has increased by two thousand percent as a result of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug users, from $220 million in 1986 to over $4.3 billion in 2001. Over $5 billion was spent for prison construction alone in the last 10 years, yet the prison system still exceeds capacity by 32%. In 2005 States spent $42.89 billion on Corrections, but only $24.69 billion on public assistance. It costs an average of $25,000/year to house each inmate.


  21. Oh you poor conservatives. Keep carping about the fairness in the MSM. Another Republican Noise Machine tactic, keep complaining about fairness when the corporate controlled networks and radio stations have been in the back pockets of (or out in front of them!) since the fairness doctrine was eliminated by Reagan, himself a propped up horrible human that today is still hailed by the MSM despite his poor record in office.

    Who cares what party? What you should be writing about is how the media can do their job better by paying attention to the mundane every day deals being made instead of always looking for something sensational. This would have been a story earlier had a reporter been doing their job. And now that we see the political connection with Zappala’a, what reporter is going to uncover the obvious?

  22. Bian G – what is truly sad is how the right wingers keep crying and defending an inept administration while doing everything they can to point fingers at the other side. Would you like to start a scoreboard of corrupt officials? You act as if this is a Dem problem. Should we talk about Jack Abbramoff? Tom DeLay? I guess the small dollars are for Dem judges but to get the really big dollars, oil companies, wall st. etc, you have to be GOP.

  23. All this sweating over not mentioning the party is missing the bigger point: When a democrat is found guilty of a crime, most fellow dems pull for the rule of law, not the man. It’s exactly the opposite with conservatives. Conservatives, deep down, truly believe they are very, very special people who, for the most part, are doing the Lord’s work. They are convinced that every move they make is a jihad against the immoral, corrupt liberals who are the cause of the universe’s problems. Therefore, when a conservative commits high crimes and misdemeanors (a la Bush) his authoritarian followers simply nod and accept that he was doing the mysterious work of God and it’s ok when a conservative commits a crime while fightin’ them dang librul hippies. After all, it was done to serve the greater good and the Almighty’s will.

    So, for those who get worked up about no party affiliation being clear on this, take a deep breath, look back over the 8 nightmare years of Bush’s epic fail and crimes and rest assured that we all know exactly what party he belongs to. That is why Obama kicked the GOP’s self-righteous asses in the election. The judges in PA were DEMOCRATS and they were dead wrong. Even us heathen liberals agree.

  24. Fox News misidentified three republicans as democrats over the last few years when “breaking” scandal stories. They are both two sides of the same coin; the corporate faction.

  25. Mel Dekker, I’d like to introduce you to Blubonnet. Blu, meet Mel. A match made in heaven.

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