Fumo Fallout: Rubin Ousted by Rendell

Gov. Rendell gets rid of Pa. Turnpike Chair, Mitchell Rubin

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- Gov. Ed Rendell ousted the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's chairman Monday, saying allegations that Mitchell Rubin accepted $150,000 in taxpayer-paid work that apparently was never done make it "inappropriate" for him to stay on the commission.

In a letter to Rubin, Rendell noted that Rubin has received a target letter from federal prosecutors stemming from activity that was described in the recent federal corruption trial of former state Sen. Vincent Fumo of Philadelphia. Rubin has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Last week, a jury convicted Fumo on all 137 corruption counts against him, including two that Rendell said required the jury to conclude Rubin and his company, BNR Preferred Revenues, never performed the work required under a state contract they held. The contract with the state Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee ended in 2004 and provided $30,000 a year for five years.

"Under these circumstances and others, it is inappropriate for you to remain as a commissioner," Rendell said in the letter.
Rubin did not immediately return telephone messages left Monday at the commission, his business and his Philadelphia home. It was not clear Monday whether he has a lawyer.


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Rubin, 57, founded a well-known legal services business in Philadelphia and was considered a member of Fumo's inner circle.
His wife, longtime Fumo aide Ruth Arnao, stood trial with Fumo and was convicted of all 45 counts against her.

Fumo, who wielded considerable clout as the appropriations committee's ranking Democrat for more than two decades, hand-picked Rubin for the commission. The move was part of a deal with then-Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican, to win Senate approval for his other appointees in 1998.

Rubin was reappointed by Ridge in 2002 and by Rendell in 2006 to a term that expires next year. As chairman, he was paid $28,500 a year.

In the prolonged fraud and obstruction case that culminated in last week's verdict against Fumo, prosecutors accused Fumo of financing his lavish lifestyle by defrauding the Senate, a nonprofit community organization he started and the Independence Seaport Museum of more than $3.5 million.

In the original indictment against Fumo, prosecutors quoted Rubin's Senate contract as saying it was to include "research, analysis and make recommendations on legislative matters, assist on constituent services."
Prosecutors also alleged that the turnpike commission issued a no-work contract to a Fumo ally within two months after Rubin became chairman in 2003.

Despite total payments of $220,000 between April 2003 and December 2004, the turnpike commission had no records reflecting that any work was ever performed on that contract, prosecutors said.

Turnpike commission spokesman Carl DeFebo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Saturday, Rubin informed Rendell that he was taking an unpaid leave of absence, citing personal reasons.

Fumo is free on $2 million bail. His sentencing is scheduled for July 13.

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