FUMO STEPS ASIDE AS SENATE
DEMOCRATIC APPROPRIATIONS CHAIRMAN
HARRISBURG, February 5, 2007
– State Senator Vince Fumo (D-Philadelphia) stepped down temporarily as
Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Fumo, first elected to the Senate in 1978, has been the
top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee since 1985. He will continue to be
a member of the committee.
He announced his decision and explained his reasons
during a speech delivered on the floor today to his friends and colleagues in
the Senate. He was joined by his Harrisburg staff.
The text of his remarks follow.
Click here to
listen to Part 1 of the Speech.
Click here to
listen to Part 2 of the Speech
# # #
I rise for a Point of Personal Privilege and would ask the indulgence of the
Senate to make an important announcement.
I have given many speeches in my life, but this is the most difficult speech I
have ever had to deliver, so please bear with me for a few moments.
Effective today, I am temporarily stepping aside as the Democratic Chairman of
the Appropriations Committee.
During the past number of years, my family, my staff, my friends and I have
endured an intensive federal investigation.
Despite our cooperation in this process, as I and my office have produced
thousands of documents, waived valid legal privileges, and permitted every
aspect of my public and private life to come under examination, the
investigation has been marked by threats, intimidation and frequent leaks to the
media, intended to embarrass me.
Now this investigation is coming to an end. I am informed that Mr. Meehan, the
US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, will announce an
indictment of me, probably this week.
I am not happy about this, but in one sense I am relieved.
These years have not been easy on me or my family, my staff and my friends. Now
that phase is over, and I can move forward, knowing who and what I am fighting.
I will be able to meet the allegations head on, instead of trying to answer the
countless rumors that have attended this process.
Sometimes the fear of the unknown is far more emotionally terrifying than the
battle itself. I am no longer in a fight for my political life, but for
everything that I hold dear. Those of you in this Chamber that know me, know
that I will not shrink from what lies ahead.
I am informed that the charges will be made in a voluminous indictment, full of
falsities, half-truths and baseless legal theories. I know in my heart that I
have not done anything illegal. I trust that you and the good citizens of
Pennsylvania will keep an open mind and remember that they are only accusations.
There are good answers to the charges. Unfortunately, some time will go by
before I have an opportunity to present my story in a courtroom. In the
meantime, I want to mention some important things that my attorneys do NOT
expect the indictment to allege.
The indictment will NOT allege that I ever accepted a bribe. And, as the
government knows, I never did.
It will NOT allege that I ever cast a vote in my own interest rather than the
best interest of the Commonwealth. And, as the government knows, I never did.
It will NOT allege that I extorted PECO or any other business or person. And as
the government knows, I never did.
It will NOT allege that I sold my office. And again, as the government knows, I
And most importantly, it will NOT allege that I ever failed, in any manner, to
carry out my duties as a Senator fully and completely. And as all of YOU know, I
have carried out my duties as a Senator, fully and completely and effectively.
Instead, my attorneys advise me that the indictment will make two primary
claims: One, that assets of Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, a
charitable organization which I supported and of which I am most proud, were
misused for personal or political gain. And second, that my Senate office
employees do nothing but political and personal work.
Both claims are simply wrong.
Make no mistake, I am proud of Citizens Alliance. Among its more than $10
million worth of accomplishments are: an outstanding charter school, a
national-award winning residential development in a former blighted
neighborhood, the rehabilitation of many trash-strewn, rat-infested vacant lots,
financially strapped recreation facilities that were kept open, and countless
other improvements that otherwise would not have been possible throughout the
state, the southeastern Pennsylvania region, and the City of Philadelphia. It
truly is about Better Neighborhoods.
I am also very proud of my staff – many of whom asked to stand with me today.
The suggestion that my staff members are political operatives or personal
assistants reflects an amazing ignorance of both the legislative process and the
facts. Both my Harrisburg and Philadelphia staffs are acknowledged as among the
hardest working and most dedicated in state government. No constituent phone
call, no neighborhood concern or problem, no legislative issue or state agency
matter goes ignored. They routinely work more than a 40-hour week, beyond the
hours of 9-5. I have a 24/7 operation, and my staff frequently works nights and
weekends, without overtime pay and without bonuses.
During my time in the Senate, with the help of my staff, I have dedicated my
career to becoming as effective as I could be for Philadelphia and its
surrounding area. We have produced more than $8 billion in benefits for the city
and region. We have fought on behalf of consumers, intervened to save jobs,
preserved historical assets, and rebuilt neighborhoods. And I am going to keep
fighting, with the same passion that I have always had for those who need our
help – the poor, the unemployed, our senior citizens, our children, and the
working men and women of Pennsylvania.
But for the time being, I will do it as a rank and file member of the Senator.
Before this indictment is issued, I will, pursuant to the spirit and the Rules
of the Senate, step aside as Democratic Chair of the Appropriations Committee
until I am vindicated. My good friend, Sen. Gerald LaValle, will become acting
Democratic Appropriations Chairman.
I take this step now not only in the interest of this Senate and my caucus, but
because I do not want to cause any disruption to an already difficult budget
To those of you in this Chamber, that I love so very much, from both sides of
the political aisle that sometimes separates us, who have expressed concern and
support and love, and who have prayed for me, I THANK YOU from the bottom of my
heart, and my family and I ask that you continue to be with us in this battle.
To the people of Pennsylvania, I want to say, I believe in your fairness. For
almost 30 years I have worked for you and with you, and I am confident that you
will not judge me based on a many years-long, one-sided campaign of scurrilous
leaks to the media designed to undermine my office and attack my reputation.
This is the last time I will be speaking publicly about any of this. On the
advice of my attorneys I will say nothing more, and I ask for your
understanding. I sincerely wish I could tell my side of the story now, but the
time and place for that will be in a court of law.
But I can say to you now, again, that I am not guilty of these accusations.
Sometimes in life the only choice we have when we face blatant injustice is to
have the courage to stand up and fight. That is what I will do, not just to
protect myself, but to protect others from facing similar confrontations in the
future, and to protect the good things that we can yet accomplish together.
Thank You, Madam President.