The mantra of the Watergate investigation by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward was "follow the money," or at least that what Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman kept saying in All The President's Men. Buzz and I decided to follow the money in the retention campaigns of Judge Michael Conahan in 2003 and Judge Mark Ciavarella in 2005.
Yesterday, we listed the 2009 judicial candidates who gave money to the two former Luzerne County judges. Today we're going to list the top contributors, but before we do we have some thoughts to pass on.
We are not in the least bit troubled by the fact that some of the 2009 judicial candidate went to a fundraising cocktail party and gave Ciavarella or Conahan a few hundred bucks for watered down drinks, Ernest and Julio Gallo box wine, and a couple of glasses of Coors Light. After all, the class of 2009 are all lawyers and the cocktail parties were networking opportunities for lawyers. There is nothing wrong with that.
Conversely, it doesn't make members of the class of 2009 saints, because they were too cheap to shell out a buck twenty-five ($125.00) a person. We'll bet you Susan B. Anthony dollars to KrispyKreme donuts that none of those "cheapskates" were stiffing the retention campaigns as a matter of principle. So get down off your high horses and stop patting yourselves on the back if you didn't make yesterday's list.
We are a little troubled by the large contributions, those who went above and beyond the call of duty. A $10,000.00 contribution to Conahan by Class of 2009 member Gene Sperazza is one such contribution. The $4325.00 by John Terrana also gives us heartburn. C.J. Bufalino's $1000.00 is a little below the troubling line, as is Gene Sperazza's $1250 to Ciavarella. The rest are fine.
With all that said, let's start with Conahan. The list includes all contributions of $2500 or more. We tried to give as much detail with each contributor as we could gleen from the financial to reports. We'll start at the top, with the name you've been waiting for. Dr. Stanley Yamulla gave Conahan $15,000 for the 2003 retention campaign. Retired doctor Stanley Yamulla gave Conahan$10,000. We believe they are father and son
Here's the rest. Attorney Michael Butera, $10,000; Sheryl Shapiro, housewife, $10,000; Law firm of Mylotte, David, and Fitzpatrick, $10,000; Attorneys Timothy, Brian, Joseph, and John Lenahan of Lenahan and Dempsey, $10,000 ($2500 a piece); Attorney Conrad Favello, $7500; Law firm of Dougherty, Leventhal, and Price, $5000; former Luzerne County Prothonotary Jill Moran, $5000; Law firm of Ustynoski & Marusak, $5000; Attorney John Nardone, $5000; Joseph Kress of Harry's U-Pull-It, $3500; Bruce Slusser, retired, $3000; Earl Slusser, $3000; Attorney Harry Cardoni, $2500; Attorney Patrick Dougherty, $2500; and Brian Corcoran, $2500.
Ciavarella was up for retention in 2005. Here's his list of $2500 plus contributors. Various Lenahans from the law firm of Lenahan and Dempsey, $20,000; Attorney Brian Corcoran, $10,000; Attorney Conrad Favello, $8000; Attorneys Catherine and Neil O'Donnell, $7500; Anzalone Law Office, $5,250; Attorney Mark Bufalino, $3500; Attorney Angelo Terrana; Attorney William and Tina Anzalone, $3000; James and Georgia Sampson, contractor, $3000; Bonner Enterprises, contractor, $2500; Attorney Edward McNelis, $2500.
We were quite surprised to find no contributions from Attorney Robert Powell to either Conahan or Ciavarella. Perhaps he contributed in other ways. Developer Robert Mericle, however, contributed a total of $2000 to Ciavarella through contributions in his name or his wife's.
Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we'll tell you how they spent the big bucks.