Pennsylvania trivia time: What do the following names have in common? Vince Fumo, Bill DeWeese, John Perzel, Mike Veon, Jane Orie and Robert Mellow. We'll give you a clue: They were all powerful leaders in the Legislature at one time or another. Give up?
The correct answer is that they underwent a change of address after their Harrisburg careers -- to be precise, they went to prison on charges related to public corruption.
Pennsylvania is sometimes said to be the most expensive Legislature in the nation. But it also has a claim to being one of the most corrupt, as suggested by the habit of its members to fall afoul of the criminal justice system. The latest big fish is Robert Mellow, former Democratic floor leader in the state Senate.
Last week in Scranton, U.S. District Court Judge Joel Slomsky sentenced Mellow, who pleaded guilty in May, to 16 months in prison for public corruption, which included using Senate staff for political fund-raising and campaigning. He must pay nearly $80,000 in restitution to the state and a $40,000 fine.
Incredibly, Mellow kept breaking the law even as the infamous Bonusgate investigation was going on. Mellow did offer an apology in court, saying he was embarrassed and ashamed. I am very, very sorry, he said. So are the taxpayers. Will they ever learn in Harrisburg?
Pennsylvania is sometimes said to be the most expensive Legislature in the nation. But it also has a claim to being one of the most corrupt