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|News & Current Events Discuss Pa. gov., ex-state senator testify at fraud trial at the General Forum; PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell told jurors Monday that an indicted former state senator worked hard for the ...|
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Pa. gov., ex-state senator testify at fraud trial
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell told jurors Monday that an indicted former state senator worked hard for the good of the state, but he acknowledged that even hardworking lawmakers must follow the rules.
The governor's defense testimony for former state senator Vincent Fumo began a dramatic day, as Fumo himself took the stand in his four-month federal corruption trial. Fumo is accused of misusing millions that belonged to the state, a maritime museum and a nonprofit community group.
Fumo, 65, appeared pale and tired on the stand, but still drew rapt attention and occasional laughs from the standing-room only courtroom.
"The more power you accumulate, the more you can get done. If you're respected, you can do a lot more than if they never heard from you, in moving the bureaucracy," Fumo testified of his approximately 25-year tenure as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Fumo is defending himself against a 139-count fraud and obstruction indictment that accuses him of defrauding Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, the Pennsylvania Senate and Philadelphia's Independence Seaport Museum of more than $3.5 million. Until recently, he was one of the Legislature's most powerful figures.
Fumo is expected to be on the stand for more than a day.
His testimony brought quick objections from prosecutors, who tried to stifle his attempts to tell jurors about his political accomplishments.
Fumo took the stand soon after Rendell's brief appearance Monday morning. He began by telling jurors about his South Philadelphia childhood, and within minutes worked in references to U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama and Harry Truman.
Asked by defense lawyer Dennis Cogan about allegations he frequently used his staff for personal chores, Fumo said Pennsylvania has no written laws that set limits for such help.
"This is something that's not written. There are no guidelines," said Fumo, who recounted witness testimony that one or two errands a month for a lawmaker might be appropriate. "I think it's appropriate to do it as (a lawmaker) sees fit. Some people are more busy than others."
Asked about a Senate employee who allegedly cleaned his homes in Philadelphia and the New Jersey shore on state time, Fumo said she had a gambling problem and cleaned houses on the side to make extra money. He said he paid her out of his own pocket, by both cash and check.
Rendell, on questioning from Cogan, told jurors that his sometime rival Philadelphia Democrat worked long hours on state issues. But the governor said on cross-examination that lawmakers must follow the law.
"(There's) no question about that. Sometimes the microscope is so intense, I wonder why people go into public service. But that wouldn't excuse conduct that is inappropriate," Rendell said.
"There are no exceptions for effectiveness and no exceptions for people who spend a lot of time on the job. The rules are the rules," Rendell said.
TBO.com - News From AP
Rationalization, justification, obfuscation... Sounds like a career politician.
More on Fumo.
Our nation has not always lived up to its ideals, yet those ideals have never ceased to guide us. They expose our flaws, and lead us to mend them. We are the beneficiaries of the work of the generations before us and it is each generation's responsibility to continue that work. - Laura Bush
Leftists and very small children don't seem to be able to understand that the Government isn't there to "fix" the economy, anymore than a tick is there to fix your dog.~Oftencold
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