|Rick Geist and his buddy John Perzel.|
Geist has a way of portraying his 34 years of service as almost heroic. His radio ads and TV ads over the years always end by saying that Geist is "your man" in Harrisburg representing your values and fighting for the people.
But when you look at those 34 years under the microscope you see a very different story. Infact, Geist has been right in the center of the many of the recent scandals that have rocked Harrisburg over the past decade. In recent posts, I've already highlighted Geist's votes for the 2001 pension grab and the unconstitutional 2005 pay raise scandal.
Let us not forget that it was Rep Rick Geist who nominated former Representative John Perzel (R-Philadelphia, now in jail guilty of corruption) for the position of Speaker of the House not once but twice.
A grand jury accused Mr. Perzel and nine others in a scheme that funneled more than $10 million in state funds to political causes. The grand jury accused Mr. Perzel of politicizing virtually every aspect of his state office, using technology workers to develop political databases, deploying legislative workers assigned to district offices as campaign researchers and funding anonymous "robo-calls" to homes in the districts of fellow Republicans who defied him on a 2005 pay raise bill -- 82 criminal counts in all, ranging from conspiracy and theft to conflict-of-interest. Perzel pleaded guilty on August 31, 2011 to eight criminal charges, including two counts of conflict of interest, two counts of theft, and four counts of conspiracy for his role in using state tax dollars and state government resources for political purposes while in charge of the House Republican Caucus. On March 21, 2012, District Judge Richard Lewis sentenced Perzel to 30 months in prison and to pay one million dollars restitution to the state.
The following is what Geist had to say about his good buddy John Perzel during his nomination speech on the floor of the state House of Representatives in 2005.
(Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Legislative Journal January 4th 2005)Another nomination speech by Rick Geist supporting John Perzel for Speaker on the floor of the House of Representatives in 2007.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Blair County, Mr. Geist.
Mr. GEIST. Thank you very much, Mr. Chief Clerk.
It really is an honor for me to rise today to second the nomination of my good friend, John Perzel.
In 1978 we came in together. John was just so full of energy, unbelievable energy, and I had the pleasure of working side by side with him during the battles and watching him mature to Speaker of the House of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
And when you look at John, you think, wow, this guy really has been a self-made man. When I nominated him the last time, the first time for Speaker, I said that he was going to need a seat belt to stay in that chair up there because it would be impossible for him to stay out of the fray. John loves the debate process. But along the way, as any good Speaker does, he really became the shepherd of this House, and when we talk about a sense of collegiality in this wonderful fraternal organization, and new members are going to learn that, as I have discussed it with Mike Veon and Kevin Blaum and my three great seatmates, George Hasay, Merle Phillips, and Dick Hess, that kind of bonding that you get in this job is unbelievable. You will never
explain it outside of this building.
And yes, we read where John Perzel is now the most powerful politician in Pennsylvania – I certainly believe that – but to us in here, both Republicans and Democrats, he is a member’s member. He knows what it takes. He is not afraid.
He makes decisions for the good of the order, and that is the job of a Speaker.
Mr. Chief Clerk, I am absolutely delighted to second the nomination of our good friend, John Perzel, for Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Legislative Journal January 2nd 2007)These speeches are telling considering the man he is nominating for Speaker is perhaps one of the most corrupt politicians in our state's history. The part of the speech that really is chilling is when Geist says of Perzel "he really knows how to do this job, and really knows how to manage this House, and he understands the business of politics that we are all in". Spoken like a true Harrisburg insider.
Mr. GEIST. Thank you very much, Mr. Chief Clerk, and boy, it is a pleasure to see you up there, Roger, after all these years. I do not think there is a finer guy in Harrisburg than you.
I stand here today to place in nomination the name of John Perzel for Speaker of the House. In 1978 when I came into this body with John and a few of us who are left, we were a bare minority, and I got to know John very, very well as an individual. I think he is a brilliant politician, a great guy, a guy who has done a fabulous job over all the years, and a guy who has been able to reach consensus, which is what this body is about. It takes 102 in the House and 26 in the Senate and a Governor to agree, and this is a guy who has been able to put it all together.
We have not always agreed on everything and we will not – he is from Philadelphia; I am from Blair County – but there is one thing that I do know: He knows how to do this job, he knows how to manage this House, and he understands the business of politics that we are all in. There is nobody who can do a finer job than John Perzel, and I place his name in nomination. Thank you.
The most pressing question for voters here in the 79th legislative race is how much did Geist, a member high up on the Republcian Caucus Seniority List, knew about Perzel's use of taxpayer dollars and state resources for political purposes. You would think a legislator that has been in Harrisburg 34 years and is, "Your Man in Harrisburg", would at least have a basic understanding of our state's campaign laws.
But evidence shows that Geist's previous campaigns actually participated in Perzel's corruption schemes. According to CasablancaPA Blog's, "Revisionist History" November 2009 post, Geist was one of the Republican House members who either knowingly or unknowingly were funneling contributions to the House Republican Campaign Committed through the State Capitol and their district offices. Geist was even mentioned by Rep. Mike Veon's (Former Minority Whip if the House now in jail for corruption) selective prosecution defense as one of the House republicans that were participating in the same type of activity in the legislature as he was. Here are a few links to examples of Rep. Rick Geist sending contributions to the House Republican Campaign Committee 2004 and 2007.
If Geist knew about the corruption why didn't he stand up to Perzel? I just can't stand a legislator who willingly violates the public trust or who stands on the sidelines when the public trust is being violated. It is time to kick out the longtime Harrisburg incumbents like Geist who have played a role in reducing the public's faith in state government to historic levels over the years. In my book Geist is one incumbent that needs to go.
For more information on Geist challenger John McGinnis's candidacy and his campaign please visit www.mcginnis2012.com.