Update: Pennsylvania politician Vincent Fumo

Longtime readers may recall (Oct. 24-25, 2001) what we described as the “unusually bare-knuckled” tactics, “even by Philadelphia standards”, of the Philly political machine when a business-oriented advocacy group called Pennsylvania Law Watch organized with a plan to issue ratings of judges statewide. We quoted the Philadelphia Daily News at the time:

“State Sen. Vincent Fumo prompted some controversy last month when he told the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce that anyone who helped [Republican judge/candidate Michael] Eakin by donating to Pennsylvania Law Watch ’should expect to be arrested,’ according to a witness at the chamber meeting, who also said Fumo mentioned Richard Sprague as a member of a team of attorneys ready for action.”

Although no one was literally arrested, three local Democratic politicians proceeded to file a suit against Pennsylvania Law Watch seeking “a freeze on Law Watch’s assets, the right to go through its books, an injunction against its activities, and more.” Almost before the episode got any national attention, the case settled, “with Law Watch agreeing with Pennsylvania Democrats that ‘it would not attempt to influence the statewide judicial elections through advertising, ‘push polling’ or any other kind of communication with the public'”.

Now, six years later, and with no direct relation to the above, longtime powerbroker and State Sen. Fumo is going to trial in federal court “on charges he used $3.5 million in what he called ‘OPM’ _ other people’s money _ to keep his political machine well-oiled and fund a high life that included three vacation homes and heated sidewalks outside his mansion. Jury selection is expected to last a week, and the trial three months.” [AP/Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, AP/York Daily Record, Philadelphia Daily News, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review].