Ah, state legislatures! Democracy’s petri dish! Where political parties try out new techniques and positions to see what might win votes on a national level. If events in Pennsylvania are any indication, we may all soon be seeing threatening phone calls, fake accusations of fake terrorism, and egregious abuse of taxpayer-funded photocopiers, followed by arrests and humiliation. And isn’t that something we can all get behind?
Former state Rep. Jeff Habay was handcuffed and taken to the Allegheny County Jail yesterday after a judge revoked his bond. “Mr. Habay continues to avoid what he should be doing, which is serving his sentence,” Judge [Jeffrey A.] Manning said.
Wacky antics in greater Pittsburgh, after the jump.
To sum up, the fun goes like this: Jeff Habay was elected at the age of 28 to the Pennsylvania state house in the Republican sweep of 1994, and was considered a rising young star. He also made threatening phone calls to his primary opponent that year, and had his campaign staffers collect “derogatory” information about the guy and distribute them on car windshields across the district. This technique might be hard to scale up to a national campaign. Once elected, he apparently used to make his legislative office staffers do campaign work, rather than, um, legislative office work. When the husband of an ex-office worker sent a letter some constituents’ request for an audit of Habay’s campaign finances, Habay claimed that that said letter contained a mysterious white powder. Which, it, you know, didn’t.
So, he now he’s going to jail for violating an ethics law that he helped pass — that’s for the campaign stuff, not the white powder stuff, on which charges he has yet to be tried. But when it comes to excuse making and trial theater, Habay proves that he has it what it takes to make the big leagues.
[The judge] rejected the pleas of Mr. Habay’s lawyer, Ken Snarey, that he allow the former lawmaker to remain free for the weekend so that he could settle family matters, contact his father, who Mr. Snarey said “is currently dying of bone cancer,” and attend his son’s 4th birthday party, for which the family has a hall reserved for tomorrow. During the hearing, Mr. Habay’s wife, Nubia, sat in the back row of the gallery, fingering a crucifix on a chain around her neck. She began to cry, resting her forehead on the chair in front of her, when Judge Manning ordered Mr. Habay to jail.
Oh, you rented a hall! Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place? In retrospect, it might have been a good idea to prioritize lawyer money over fourth birthday money. Just sayin’.
Habay faces list of charges on harassing political foes [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
State Rep. Habay’s defense belittles prosecution case [phillyBurbs.com]
Judge to Habay: Go directly to jail [P P-G]