We often hear about the toxic nature of politics in America and how partisans are unable to speak civilly to each other. Well, in Pennsylvania, this is clearly not the case. According to PoliticsPA, two former House Speakers, Bill DeWeese, a Democrat, and John Perzel, a Republican, have decided to share a prison cell at Camp Hill state prison.
DeWeese was convicted in February of theft and criminal conspiracy and sentenced to serve 30 to 60 months in prison. These charges resulted from what in Pennsylvania was referred to as Bonusgate, the providing of huge bonuses to legislative aides for working on political campaigns. Perzel was convicted of being the mastermind of Computergate, which used taxpayer funded software in political campaigns. He pled guilty and also sentenced to serve 30 to 60 months at Camp Hill.
When DeWeese showed up at the prison, they gave him the option of sharing a cell with Perzel or with Mike Manzo, DeWeese’s former Chief of Staff who testified against him in his trial. He opted to sleep nights with Perzel.
According to PoliticPa, here is what happened when DeWeese showed up at prison:
“Once DeWeese arrived, and was not thrilled bunking with Manzo, Perzel told DeWeese he wanted to room with him. DeWeese was enthusiastic but skeptical, telling the most powerful legislative leader of the last 20 years: “John, I don’t think we pick who we room with here.”
Perzel told him not to worry, and that if and when DeWeese came back after an anonymous Superior Court judge briefly freed him, “It’s a done deal.”
When DeWeese came back, it was a done deal, and the two men are apparently making the experience more endurable for each of them.
While Perzel and DeWeese were phone pals even when they ran opposing caucuses, now they have a lot more time to talk.
Another reason might be moments like a recent trip to the prison dining room, where a guard teased DeWeese: “Here comes Sticky Fingers.”
DeWeese roared with laughter, as he tells the story and responded: “I’m Sticky Fingers?”
He pointed at himself: “They accused me of [misusing] $100,000.”
He pointed at Perzel: “They accused him of $10 million! He’s the Sticky Fingers!”
Perzel, guards, other inmates crack up.”
As an aside, on this the 40th anniversary of Watergate, which instituted the lazy journalistic trait of adding -gate to any political corruption scandal, maybe someone in the media should try to come up with another phrase.