Both Democrats are heavily connected to former state Sen. Bob Mellow, a Democratic political powerhouse for 40 years who signed a federal guilty plea agreement last week admitting to crimes of political corruption.
Mellow will likely go to prison and might have to cooperate with ongoing investigations.
But Blake and Kavulich will simply go back to work – getting paid handsomely to do the people’s business in the Harrisburg Capitol without so much as an explanation about any part they played, either willingly or unwillingly, in Mellow’s abuse of the public trust.
Maybe they played no role. I hope they didn’t. But they have to tell us they had no role. They must reassure the people they serve. As of now, suspicion hangs above their heads like toxic clouds of betrayal.
United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Peter Smith said in a press conference that Mellow was “aided and abetted” in the commission of his crimes by Senate staffers who helped him carry our his dirty deeds. Those deeds included using government time and facilities to campaign – presumably for Mellow and his always successful re-election bids.
We don’t know the identity of those staffers because federal prosecutors won’t tell us. They might never tell us. But we still have a right to know – if, nothing else, that Blake and Kavulicvh were not even peripherally involved in this grave abuse of the public trust.
In a recent email to my colleague Sue Henry, Blake’s chief of staff wrote that four former Mellow staffers now work for Blake. Four people who worked as public servants in Mellow’s snake pit now serve the public trust in Blake’s district offices.
Were they in any way – knowingly or unknowingly – involved in Mellow’s crimes? Did Blake investigate? If so what did he learn? Why won’t he tell us?
But we don’t even know their names because Blake’s chief of staff didn’t name them.
A recent text message to me during my show named one as a high ranking Blake staffer. I called Blake’s office, left a message for the man and he never called me back. Then I called and left a message for Blake. Another staffer returned my call and said Blake would be in touch. Blake never called.
I plan to call Blake’s office today and officially ask for the names.
I’ll ask to talk with Blake, too.
As Mellow’s replacement in the same senatorial district that Mellow controlled for decades, Blake has immense power. Even with Republicans in control of the Senate, Blake carries Mellow’s legacy.
How much of that legacy he claims, however, poses a problem.
The night voters elected Blake, Mellow literally stepped from the shadows and gave his student a big hug, a photo of which appeared on the front page of the morning newspaper.
Now that we know that Mellow is an admitted criminal and has confessed to misusing Senate staffers to work on political campaigns, we must be reassured that none worked on Blake’s campaign.
If he says none did, we need to know how he knows.
We need proof - as prosecutors say, evidence
Kavulich can help.
During his tenure as a Senate staffer he commuted regularly between Harrisburg and Mellow’s Peckville office. He played a crucial role in Mellow’s office and was around other Senate staffers on a daily basis.
Did Kavulich sense any problems? If so did he resist or further them? Did he report wrongdoing to law enforcement officials? Was he so oblivious to the crime and corruption Mellow now admits to perpetrating that he saw nothing? Heard nothing? Did nothing?
I’ll be calling him today, too.
If Blake and Kavulich ignores us or tries to hide, we’ll go to them. I’ll take a videographer with me when I do and will post the video on the WILK News Radio website. I’ll make as many embarrassing videos as I have to in order to get the answers we all deserve. Maybe I’ll make a whole documentary.
The restoration of the public trust is that important and depends mightily on the public right to know.
That’s why Blake and Kavulich must start talking right now.