Statewide Grand Jury Issues Presentment, Charges Media With Taking Easy Out By Calling Scandal ‘Bonusgate’

HARRISBURG -- A statewide grand jury yesterday recommended charges of widespread cultural crimes and intellectual laziness against the Pennsylvania media for referring to the ongoing scandal surrounding pay bonuses in return for partisan political work as “Bonusgate.”

“On or about Jan. 26, 2007, the media first reported a suspicious linkage between large taxpayer funded pay bonuses for select state employees and political work performed by those same employees,” the jury said in a 78-page presentment.

“The lazy bastards immediately started calling it ‘Bonusgate,’ as if adding the suffix ‘gate’ to something automatically labels it as a scandal. It’s as if they couldn’t help themselves.”

In a separate presentment, the jury also recommended charges against a score of newspapers for coverage that predicted the jury would issue indictments.

"Said individuals knew or should have known that grand juries in Pennsylvania do not indict. They issue presentments, which are recommendations for authorities with the power to bring criminal charges to do so," the indic -- er, presentment, said.

Attorney General Tom Corbett, who convened the grand jury after word of the bonuses, said he has issued arrest warrants for reporters Charles Thompson of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Dennis Roddy and Tracie Mauriello of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mario Cattabiani of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Brad Bumsted and Debra Erdley of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and several television and radio copy writers.

“Despite clear indications that they knew, or should have known, that you can’t just add ‘gate’ to something and call it a scandal, these individuals conspired to undermine the intellectual well being of countless Pennsylvania citizens who had every right to be safe in their syntax,” Corbett told a thinly attended press conference.

Attorney Jeremiah Klein, who represents several of the journalists and their newspapers, said his clients were victims of “a climate of clarity” and said he would vigorously fight the charges.

“'Bonusgate,' while I am not excusing the term, fits into two column headlines. ‘Payroll Bonus Scandal’ does not. I think we need to understand the atmosphere that led to these cultural offenses."