Bill DeWeese

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H. William DeWeese
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 50th district
In office
May 10, 1976 – April 24, 2012
Preceded by Donald Davis
Succeeded by Pam Snyder
135th Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
January 5, 1993 – November 30, 1994
Preceded by Bob O'Donnell
Succeeded by Matt Ryan
Democratic Leader of the
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1995 – November 30, 2008
Preceded by Ivan Itkin
Succeeded by Todd Eachus
In office
January 23, 1990[1] – November 30, 1992
Preceded by Bob O'Donnell
Succeeded by Ivan Itkin
Democratic Whip of the
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
In office
January 6, 2009 – December 19, 2009
Preceded by Keith McCall
Succeeded by Frank Dermody
In office
January 3, 1989 – January 23, 1990
Preceded by Bob O'Donnell
Succeeded by Ivan Itkin
Personal details
Born (1950-04-18) April 18, 1950 (age 68)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Holly Kinser (married 1992, divorced 1999)[2]
Residence Waynesburg, Pennsylvania
Alma mater Wake Forest University
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch U.S. Marine Corps
Years of service 1972–1975

H. William DeWeese (born April 18, 1950) is an American politician who is a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. A member of the Democratic Party, DeWeese served as the 135th Speaker of the Pennsylvania House from 1993-94. After five years of investigation by Republican State Attorney General Tom Corbett, he was indicted in December 2009 on six charges of conflict of interest, theft and criminal conspiracy on accusations that two members of his staff used state resources to campaign for political office. The trial began January 23, 2010. He was re-elected in 2010 despite the charges, but was convicted of five of the six felony charges on February 6, 2012.[3]

In April 2012, DeWeese was sentenced to 30 to 60 months in state prison, and subsequently resigned his house seat.[4] He maintains that the prosecution was politically motivated,[5] and part of an ongoing feud with Corbett,[6] who became Governor in 2011.


DeWeese was born April 18, 1950, in Pittsburgh and raised in rural Greene County. After earning a B.A., History at Wake Forest University, he joined the United States Marine Corps 1972–1975.[citation needed]

State House

After leaving the Marines, DeWeese was elected to the Pennsylvania House in a 1976 special election[7] and represented the 50th district (consisting of all of Greene and parts of Fayette and Washington Counties) for the ensuing thirty-six years.[8][9][10][11]

DeWeese's ascent through the echelons of House Democratic leadership began when he was elected by his colleagues as Majority Whip in 1988. Upon the death of Speaker of the House James Manderino, DeWeese was elected House Majority Leader in January 1990, serving in that position until he was elected Speaker of the House for the 1993–94 term. In 1994, he lost the Speakership when Democrat Rep. Tom Stish switched parties, giving the GOP the majority.[citation needed]

He went on to serve as Minority Leader from 1994 until 2006. With the election of fellow Democrat Ed Rendell as Governor of Pennsylvania in 2003, DeWeese was able to wield more influence than otherwise would have been expected from a Minority legislator.[12]

Following November 2006 elections, a tight race in Chester County gave a slim 102-101 majority to the Democrats, DeWeese became Democratic speaker-designate. Days before the General Assembly convened on January 2, 2007, Rep. Thomas Caltagirone of Berks County announced he would not support DeWeese as speaker but would remain a Democrat. For the second time, DeWeese was denied the speakership by a member of his own party. DeWeese then nominated Philadelphia County Republican Rep. Dennis O'Brien for the office of Speaker. O'Brien defeated fellow Northeast Philadelphia Republican John Perzel in a 105–97 vote.[citation needed]

Role in the 2005 legislative pay raise

Rep. DeWeese supported a legislative and judicial pay raise in 2005. After criticism from the media and activist groups, DeWeese joined his colleagues in a near unanimous repeal of the pay raise.[citation needed]

DeWeese reorganized the Democratic Caucus following the vote. Members who voted in favor of the pay raise were promoted to those positions; while those who voted against lost such positions as a result of their opposition. Republicans and a small number of fellow Democrats, including Governor Ed Rendell, criticized DeWeese's move; but he stood by his decision, explaining that those who opposed the pay-raise legislation knew the realignment would be a consequence.[13]

Despite the defeats of several legislative leaders in the wake of the pay scandal, DeWeese fought off a 2006 primary election challenge and was elected for an additional term in office on November 7, 2006.[citation needed]

2007 speaker election

In 2006, the Democratic party won a 102–101 majority in the House, giving DeWeese a second chance at the speaker's gavel. However, several Democratic representatives were rumored to be unhappy with DeWeese. Among them were Rep. Rosita Youngblood of Philadelphia, whom DeWeese accused of being "owned lock, stock and barrel" by Perzel Incorporated. Caltagirone publicly announced his intention to support Perzel, thereby denying DeWeese the Speakership.[14] However, Democrats foiled Perzel's move by nominating a Republican, Dennis O'Brien for Speaker. O'Brien went on to win the election.

Bonus investigation

DeWeese initially attempted to block Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett's investigation into whether the House Democratic caucus made illegal payments to staffers, with motions to quash suboepenas and exclude evidence seized.[15]

However, months later he abruptly dropped his legal challenges.[8] DeWeese negotiated an agreement with the Office of Attorney General to turn over evidence,[16] but the terms of the negotiation have not been made public.[17]

Documents DeWeese turned over to the Attorney General revealed that DeWeese acknowledged awarding bonuses for campaign work and used a state-paid consultant to perform political tasks.[18] Despite the fact that the email said "Thank you for the bonus for campaigning",[19] DeWeese argued that he thought he was being thanked for a Christmas bonus. Alternatively, DeWeese has argued that the response did not come from him.[20] Evidence also showed that DeWeese and his top aides directed a state-paid consultant to perform political work.[21][17]

Evidence in the case also revealed DeWeese's bizarre personal demands of his staff.[22] His aides allegedly balanced his checkbook, paid bills, picked up dry cleaning, bought condoms, and arranged dinner dates from a list of women. His driver was asked to arrange items in the trunk of his car according to a diagram on a card. DeWeese was not charged in connection with the use of his state-paid staff for personal errands.[citation needed]

On December 15, 2009, DeWeese was indicted on one count of conflict of interest, four counts of theft and one count of criminal conspiracy.[23]

He was accused of paying a full-time political operative with state funds and directing his district office staff to do political work on state time. That operative later said he spent 40% of his time on campaigns. That operative was not charged because he made his allegations against his former boss under protection of immunity.[24][17][17]

He survived calls for his resignation from reform activists[25] and his fellow state representatives.[9] DeWeese did not step down and was re-elected in 2008 over Republican Greg Hopkins. With Keith McCall receiving the party nomination for Speaker after the 2008 elections, DeWeese ran for and was elected to be Majority Whip in the House.[10] He resigned from his leadership role after he was indicted on charges unrelated to the issues at the center of the Bonusgate case.[11]

Despite this reduced role in the Democratic caucus, the Pennsylvania Report expected DeWeese to "find some way to exert his influence and thus continue to be a power player and force behind-the-scenes in the PA House" and cautioned against anyone counting him out.[26]

On February 6, 2012, a jury found DeWeese guilty of five of the six felony counts with which he was charged, including three counts of theft, one count of conflict of interest and one count of conspiracy.[3] He was acquitted on a single theft charge.[3] After the verdict was delivered, DeWeese maintained the charges were politically motivated, and vowed to remain in the House until he was sentenced, at which time he said he would resign.[5]

DeWeese was the only Democrat to file for election to his House seat, and a Commonwealth Court judge ruled that his name could remain on the April 2012 primary ballot.[27] He was sentenced to 30 to 60 months in state prison on April 24, 2012, the same day in which he resigned his House seat. His subsequent requests to be released on bail pending appeal were denied by the State Supreme Court, and he was incarcerated at the Camp Hill State Prison.[28]

In August 2012, a Commonwealth Court judge ruled in favor of State Democrats who had sought to have DeWeese's name removed from the general election ballot; the ruling allowed Democrats to select a new candidate to take DeWeese's place on the ballot. DeWeese was paroled on March 30, 2014.[29]

Feud with Corbett

DeWeese maintained that his charges were part of a political vendetta[6] by Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett, who indicted DeWeese while running for Governor. Corbett won the governor's race through an anti-corruption platform[30] despite allegations of prosecutorial misconduct[31] and corruption in Corbett's office.[32]

A key source of dispute between Corbett and DeWeese is the exploration for natural gas in Marcellus Shale, a booming industry in DeWeese's district. Between 2005 and 2010, more than 1,900 wells[33] had been drilled in Pennsylvania. Greene County, home of DeWeese, has attracted companies as large as Haliburton.[34] Corbett, the former assistant General Counsel of Waste Management, opposes an extraction tax[35] on Marcellus Shale drilling while DeWeese favors it. Corbett also sought to limit regulatory oversight of the drilling industry.[36]

Corbett's campaign was heavily funded by energy insiders.[37] He received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from the natural gas industry.[38]

In August 2011, DeWeese called for a theft-of-services investigation of Tom Corbett when the wife of a Corbett cabinet member was charged with DUI and called the Governor's mansion in the early morning hours to assist. A State Trooper was dispatched to pick her up from the police station and drive her home.[6]

In January 2012, DeWeese lambasted Corbett[39] for spending tens of millions of state dollars pursuing political enemies but ignoring the child abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky; Corbett had received $201,783.64 in campaign contributions from past and present board members of Sandusky's charity, according to media reports.[40]

As part of the ongoing feud, Corbett also canceled a prison destined for DeWeese's district.[41]


  1. ^ Jim Moore (1990). "DeWeese takes on duties of House majority leader". Observer-Reporter. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  2. ^ Erdely, Sabrina Rubin (March 2003). "There's Something About Holly". Philadelphia. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Metro Corp.
  3. ^ a b c Langley, Karen (February 7, 2012). "DeWeese guilty of five felonies". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
  4. ^ Olson, Laura (April 24, 2012). "DeWeese sentenced after resignation from Pa. House". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  5. ^ a b Couloumbis, Angela (February 6, 2012). "DeWeese convicted of theft, but vows to stay". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c DeWeese right in calling for investigation – Greene County Messenger: Editorials, (August 19, 2011); retrieved 2012-01-23.
  7. ^ Roddy, Dennis B. (December 16, 2009). "DeWeese stunned by charges in corruption probe". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  8. ^ a b [1] Archived September 7, 2012, at
  9. ^ a b DeWeese may face caucus ire Archived January 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.. Pittsburgh Tribune (January 9, 2008); retrieved 2012-01-23.
  10. ^ a b Brad Bumsted. "House Democrats hand DeWeese No. 2 slot". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved November 18, 2008. [permanent dead link]
  11. ^ a b Mauriello, Tracie (December 18, 2009). "Dermody's election as House Democratic whip a 'shake-up'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  12. ^ "The PA Report "Power 75" List" (PDF). Pennsylvania Report. Capital Growth, Inc. January 31, 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 20, 2006.
  13. ^ "Moves in Pa. House to Stand". Archived from the original on September 26, 2006. Retrieved September 26, 2006.
  14. ^ Democrat plans to support Perzel, spoiling party speakership Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.,, December 30, 2006; retrieved 2012-01-23.
  15. ^ Mauriello, Tracie; Barnes, Tom. "Democrats attempting to block state probe of bonuses". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  16. ^ Agent So Op Testimony 1,, March 31, 2008; retrieved 2012-01-23.
  17. ^ a b c d [2][dead link]
  18. ^ Cattabiani, Mario F.; Couloumbis, Angela (April 6, 2009). "Bonusgate records contradict DeWeese". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  19. ^ E-mail may tie DeWeese to scandal Archived March 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., (March 16, 2009); retrieved 2012-01-23.
  20. ^ E-mail may tie DeWeese to scandal Archived September 7, 2012, at, (March 16, 2009); retrieved 2012-01-23.
  21. ^ "Records appear to contradict DeWeese The ex-House Democratic leader, who has not been charged in the Bonusgate case, has denied he knew public money was misused", (April 6, 2009); retrieved 2012-01-23.
  22. ^ Bumsted, Brad. (December 22, 2009) Grand jury testimony tells of DeWeese's demands on staff,; retrieved 2012-01-23.
  23. ^ Roddy, Dennis B.; Mauriello, Tracie (December 16, 2009). "DeWeese, Stetler charged in state corruption probe". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  24. ^ Pennsylvania Rep. Bill DeWeese to go to trial on Bonusgate charges,; retrieved 2012-01-23/
  25. ^ Micek, John (November 16, 2007). "Afternoon Update". Capitol Ideas with John L. Micek Blog.
  26. ^ "PA Report 100" (PDF). Pennsylvania Report. Capital Growth, Inc. January 23, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 14, 2009.
  27. ^ Olson, Laura (March 1, 2012). "Despite conviction, DeWeese will appear on primary ballot". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
  28. ^ Bowling, Brian (June 7, 2012). "Supreme Court says DeWeese must stay in prison during appeal". The Pittsburgh Tribune. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  29. ^ "DeWeese released after corruption sentence". The Washington Times.
  30. ^ Corbett Wins Pa. Governor's Race, (November 2, 2010); retrieved on 2012-01-23.
  31. ^ Court document (PDF) Archived March 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.,, March 25, 2010.
  32. ^ Analysis: Can Tom Corbett continue his charge on Pennsylvania Capitol? Archived January 31, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.,; retrieved January 23, 2012.
  33. ^ Southwestern Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Short-Term Ambient Air Sampling Report (2010-11-01) Archived July 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Protection; accessed May 15, 2017.
  34. ^ Gas Drilling Trucks | Truck photos including some frac fluid trucks Archived August 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on January 23, 2012.
  35. ^ Sungala, Rebekah. (March 11, 2011) DeWeese, others speak out against Corbett plan – Greene County Messenger: Top Stories. Retrieved on 2012-01-23.
  36. ^ Pennsylvania Limits Authority of Oil and Gas Inspectors. ProPublica (March 30, 2011). Retrieved on 2012-01-23.
  37. ^ "Governor's Shale Advisers". March 30, 2011. Archived from the original on April 3, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  38. ^ Swift, Robert. (November 19, 2010) Hanger challenges Corbett on natural gas drilling – News Archived September 28, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.. Daily Review. Retrieved on 2012-01-23.
  39. ^ Matt Miller Top aide pleads guilty amid jury selection for ex-House Speaker Bill DeWeese's corruption trial, The Patriot-News (January 18, 2012); accessed 2015-05-15.
  40. ^ Past And Present Board Members Of Sandusky's Charity Gave $201,783.64 To Gov. Corbett's 2010 Campaign. (November 16, 2011); retrieved 2012-01-23.
  41. ^ DeWeese expresses ire over prison cancellation, PoliticsPA (February 18, 2011); retrieved 2012-01-23.

External links

  • Profile at Vote Smart
  • Follow the Money – H. William DeWeese
    • 2006 2004 2002 2000 1998 campaign contributions
Political offices
Preceded by
Bob O'Donnell
Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Matt Ryan
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Preceded by
Donald Davis
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 50th District
Succeeded by
Seat Vacant
Party political offices
Preceded by
Keith McCall
Democratic Whip of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Frank Dermody
Preceded by
Ivan Itkin
Democratic Leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Todd Eachus
Preceded by
Bob O'Donnell
Democratic Leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Ivan Itkin
Democratic Whip of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Retrieved from ""
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