Joan Orie Melvin faces charges

Published by Lillian Thomas on .

From the main site, Paula Reed Ward's story on the continuing saga of the Orie sisters, with Justice Joan Orie Melvin facing charges:

State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin surrendered to authorities this afternoon to face nine criminal counts pertaining to her alleged use of state resources for campaign purposes.

She arrived at City Court, Downtown, at 1:40 p.m., accompanied by her brother, attorney Jack Orie, and one of her daughters, Casey Melvin.

"I am a woman of faith," Justice Melvin said after she was released without bond following a video arraignment. "My strong faith in God is the cornerstone of my life. My faith will see me through this."

She denied the allegations against her.

"I entered a plea of not guilty today and I will vigorously defend these politically motivated charges," she said. "The voters overwhelmingly sent me to the Supreme Court and I will not resign because of these politically motivated charges."

She took no questions after speaking, walking briskly to a waiting car.

Allegheny County assistant district attorney Lawrence N. Claus called Justice Melvin's comments "disingenuous."

"It is somewhat disappointing to hear the same old rhetoric," he said.

Earlier today, Justice Melvin informed the court that she would voluntarily step aside from all duties as a result of the charges filed against her today.

According to a letter Justice Melvin's attorney submitted to Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, she said she would recuse.

"In order to avoid the appearance of impropriety and in accordance with precedent, Justice Orie Melvin is voluntarily recusing herself from all judicial duties pending resolution of the criminal charges," wrote William I. Arbuckle III, who has been representing the justice in a pending Judicial Conduct Board investigation.

He continued, "She is not resigning from the court. The justice denies any wrongdoing and will vigorously defend these politically motivated criminal charges."



Casey goes after Facebook co-founder

Published by Tim McNulty on .

US Sen Bob Casey is going after a Facebook co-founder for his plans to renounce his US citizenship just before the social media giant goes public.

Calling the plans by Eduardo Saverin an "outrage," Casey and fellow Democrat Chuck Schumer are holding a press conference at 11 a.m. today in which they'll unveil a plan to to "re-impose taxes on expatriates like Saverin even after they flee the United States and take up residence in a foreign country. Their plan would also bar individuals like Saverin from reentering the country." (WSJ)

Speaking of Casey, NYT poll expert Nate Silver writes that Casey's reelection this year should be safe. Here's his reasoning:

Republicans were in need of a strong candidate to seriously challenge the Democratic incumbent, Bob Casey, who is fairly popular. Instead, their field failed to coalesce and they picked an inexperienced nominee, the businessman Tom Smith, in their primary in April. We classify the race as Safe Democrat, rather than Likely Democrat as before.


Biden on attack in Youngstown

Published by James O'Toole on .

YOUNGSTOWN -- Vice President Joe Biden renewed the Obama campaign's assault on Mitt Romney's business record Wednesday portraying it as a quest for profits for the wealthy at the expense of ordinary workers.

At a speech at M7 Technologies, a high tech factory amid the manufacturing belt of the Mahoning Valley, the vice president contended that, through the auto industry bailout and other initiatives, the administration had prepared the way for a national rebound in manufacturing jobs. His criticism of the Mr. Romney amplified the indictment of his record contained in new Obama television commercials running in battleground states. Mr. Biden pointed to the same steel company bankruptcy spotlighted in the ad, contending that its fate showed the dangers of the business model of Mr. Romney's former firm, Bain Capital.

"There's Obama Economics, which values the role of workers in the success of a business, and values the middle class in the success of the economy. A philosophy that believes everyone deserves a fair shot and a fair shake, and everybody should play by the same rules,'' Mr. Biden said. "And then there's Romney Economics, which says as long as the government helps the guys at the very top do well, workers and small businesses and communities they can fend for themselves.''

"He's a patriot; he's a generous man,'' Mr. Biden said of the GOP standard bearer at another point in the half-hour speech before several hundred factory workers and Democratic partisans. "He gives to his church. He has a beautiful family. But he doesn't get it.''

The Romney campaign countered that the attacks were an effort to distract voters from the administration's lack of accomplishment on the economy.

"The president doesn't want to talk about his record,'' said Ryan Williams, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, who had joined the audience at the Youngstown plant.

The Romney campaign also distributed a press release pointing to waste and abuse in the administration's economic stimulus program and mocking the vice president supposed role as "the sheriff,'' in charge of policing such abuses.

Mr. Biden was introduced by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Randy Johnson, a USW employee whose former job at a paper factory was eliminated after Bain closed the plant.

"In the 1990s, there was a steel mill in Kansas City, Missouri. It had been in business since 1888. Then Romney and his partners bought the company. Eight years later that company was in bankruptcy,'' Mr. Biden said. "In the meantime, Romney's management team added debt on the company. When they bought the company it had only $13 million of debt. By the time it filed for bankruptcy, its debt had increased 40 fold to over $533 million.''

Responding to the same narrative in the Obama campaign commercial, the Romney campaign pointed out the Mr. Romney had moved on from a management position at Bain to become CEO of the Salt Lake City Olympics by the time the firm, GST Steel, went bankrupt. The Obama campaign countered that the Republican was still a partner, sharing in Bain's profits at the time of the bankruptcy.

Mr. Biden also echoed Mr. Johnson's denunciations of Bain for taking over, then closing Ampad, the Indiana firm where he had been employed.


Biden vs Bain

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Bane vs Batman

Joe Biden is in Youngstown today -- and Martins Ferry, Ohio tomorrow -- to keep hammering Mitt Romney's former investment firm Bain Capital. The Obama reelection campaign really, really doesn't like Bain (or is it Bane?), and here's a preview of Biden's remarks:

"[Romney] thinks that because he spent his career as a 'businessman,' he has the experience to run the economy. So let's take a look at a couple of things he did. ...

"In the 1990s, there was a steel mill in Kansas City, Missouri. It had been in business since 1888. Then Romney and his partners bought the company. 8 years later it went bankrupt. ... Romney's management team added debt on the company. When they bought the company it had only $13 million of debt. By the time it filed for bankruptcy, its debt had increased 40 fold to over $533 million. ...

"And when the company finally filed for bankruptcy, they reneged on their contract with the workers. No health care, lower pensions. Everyone lost their jobs. But not everyone got hurt. The top 30 executives walked away with $9 million. And Romney and his partners walked away with at least $12 million.

"Romney made sure the guys on top got to play by a separate set of rules, he ran massive debts, and the middle class lost. And folks, he thinks this experience will help our economy?

"Where I come from, past is prologue. So what do you think he'll do as President? "

Full remarks, as prepped for delivery, via the Obama camp after the jump:


GOP SuperPAC targets Obama in Pa

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Democrats have been worrying they can't go toe-to-toe with Republican-backed SuperPACs this presidential year -- and with good reason.

Crossroads GPS, the independent group co-founded by Karl Rove, is unleashing a $25 million ad buy in Pennsylvania and other swing states, matching the Obama camp's initial buy dollar-for-dollar through the month.

The spot is going up in all the same states as the Obama camp ad and additionally Michigan.

The ad hits issues like mortgage foreclosures, taxes, the deficit and health care reform, saying Obama has failed to keep his campaign promises. It begins with a 2008 clip of Obama saying "we must help the millions of homeowners facing foreclosure," whereupon the narrator says "promise broken: one in five mortgages are still under water."

The two-week PA ad buy is $487,000 and runs from May 17-31.