Saturday, November 28, 2009

blogito ergo I rant

So I now come to understand some of the antipathy I sometimes hear from our media friends on those ‘bloggers’. Already making the meta-commenting rounds is this from the PG yesterday:  Bloggers Open the Floodgates on Mayor. Really? 

It’s not just journalists actually… every now and then in more professional settings I will hear someone discount all of the blog world with generalities about it being nothing but crazed ranting. Sometimes such a statement will be followed by folks staring at me, or a wink from others. I just smile usually. That all came to mind reading the PG story yesterday attributing all the humorous exhortations of twitterdom to bloggers; I get it now that a lot of journalists, or maybe their editors writing the headlines, really don’t get it. That someone conflates masses of folks poking fun at a topic as literal commentary is odd. It is commentary of course, but so is Colbert.

It’s sort of like writing off all newspaper journalists because the Drudge report exists out there. It didn’t come across as bad as say Mike Seate’s rant against the blogs last year, but you sense it was written with the exact same set of preconceptions at the very least. Might need to watch out, those twitterers are the very same folks populating the exponentially expanding content in the wikisphere.. something no professional journalist would ever crib from

Nonetheless… the topic at hand is the mayor’s retention of a Philadelphia lawyer solely to protect his privacy. You have to admit that this fellow Sprague is one interesting fellow. Far more interesting that the nominal reason he has made it into local news stories of late. The Philadelphia Magazine had one of the longer looks at the good counselor and his estranged relationship with former State Senator Vince Fumo:  The Feud,

What amazes me above all else is how he is just another datapoint on how recent political history in Pennsylvania comes back to Arlen Specter. Arlen has now set the record for the longest serving Senator in Pennsylvania history yet he got his political start getting himself elected* as the Philadelphia DA after serving a stint on the Warren Commission investigating the JFK assassination. His top deputy for years in the Philly DA's office was the same Richard A. Sprague. Other unknowns in that office included some fellow named Rendell. You have to wonder how PA history would have played out for all of them and us without that single bullet theory propelling Arlen to ever greater fame. It’s almost enough to make me rethink my disbelief of all those grassy knoll theories.

But back to Mr. Sprague and ex-Senator Vince Fumo.. undisputed leader of all Harrisburg machinations for decades. If you search Pennsylvania Campaign finance accounts. What you find is at least a million dollars in expenditures from the Fumo campaign accounts to the firm of Sprague and Sprague, usually for legal expenses. You can find those items yourself in these filings:
9/22/2006 $50,000.00
4/26/2006 $130,000.00
2/12/2007 $350,000.00
1/30/2007 $50,000.00
12/27/2006 $25,000.00
11/29/2006 $25,000.00
8/24/2006 $100,000.00
7/20/2006 $40,000.00
7/17/2006 $50,000.00
2/14/2006 $150,000.00
5/22/2006 $150,000.00

I have to presume those are all expenses related to Fumo's criminal defense efforts.  But geez…. All that and Fumo is still sitting in a Federal prison. You have to wonder how long he would be in jail if he had spent less than 7 figures on a defense no matter who it was representing him. Though there is one recent news story that says the sentence he got was 3 months longer than the plea bargain he was offered before the trial ever began.

Those numbers just made me wonder if Sprague and Sprague was the single largest recipient of expenditures from Pennsylvania Campaign accounts across the board. I was going to try and play around with aggregating all the top recipients of expenditures from all political accounts tracked by the state… but it looks like it would be quite a project unto itself to come up with a definitive list. Different spellings of different entities makes it problematic in itself to aggregate all of that… but you have to believe Sprague and Sprague comes close to being near to top of such a list if it were to exist.

So who knows… Potter has already suggested this in a comment on his own post a few days ago that there is already fodder out there as it stands for potential litigation on the part of Mr. Sprague. Is the bluster against potential slanderous speech just bluster? We will see. There is an interesting question of how one could afford an attorney such as Mr. Sprague... though I would not presume the nefarious if he is offering his services at a cut rate price.  I suspect he has all the money he needs and as Potter also alludes to there is new law to be made in this whole field of internet privacy.  It might be the challenge of setting precedent that brought counselor and client together.  Pittsburgh is always striving to be on the cutting edge.  We may have succceeded.

* I didn't realize how unique Specter's original election as DA was.  I thought the history was that he had changed registration from Democrat to Republican to run in the race.  It seems from my reading of the historyt that he actually was elected as the nominated Republican.. but was still a registered Democrat at the time.  Only after getting elected did he change registration.


Blogger EdHeath said...

Fumo paid for Sprague through campaign funds, yes? Ravenstahl apparently said in the Griffin interview at some point that the timing of the announcement of the separation was, in fact, at least in part a political decision. Therefore Ravenstahl could be tapping his campaign funds to pay for Sprague?

Monday, November 30, 2009 12:19:00 PM  

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