Indicted by Attorney General Tom Corbett in 2008, former Pa. Rep. Mike Veon (D–Beaver) was charged with theft, conspiracy and conflict-of-interest for allegedly using state funds to bolster his political campaign and settle debts.
In addition to allegations that Veon channeled over $1 million in state-funded bonuses to those who worked on his political campaign, Veon is also accused of having ordered his Harrisburg staff to perform fundraising duties while they were on the clock for the state legislature.
Recent accounts of trial proceedings reveal that Patrick Lavelle, an ex-legislative aide to Veon, would lobby for the former representative while on taxpayers’ time. According to an Associated Press article by Mark Levy, Lavelle spent 80 percent of his taxpayer-financed time performing political fundraising for Veon. “It was regular and routine practice for [political] activities to take place throughout the work day,” said the former aide.
News of Veon’s double dipping first became widespread in January 2007 when two reporters from The Patriot-News broke this story.
The article, titled “Some Democrats give staffers bonuses,” says, “It is a longstanding practice for many legislative staffers from both parties to take leave, compensatory or personal time to do volunteer work on campaigns. It would be illegal, however, for their employers to pay them for that work with state funds.”
Veon’s lawyers argue that performing campaign work on state time was common practice. Indeed, if it was common practice among Harrisburg politicians to plunder state coffers to finance political ambitions, more politicians than Veon should face indictment.
Said to be an honest, hard-working statesman by defense witnesses, Veon has a long history in Pennsylvania politics. He served 22 years in the House—some of those as Democratic Whip—before losing his reelection bid in 2006.