HARRISBURG - Sharon Rodavich worked for Democratic Whip Bill DeWeese for about 15 years, but none of her co-workers who appeared before a grand jury remember her doing any legislative work.
Instead, they said, she used her time to direct other staffers' campaign work, to organize cheerleading competitions and to plan her daughter's wedding. That's on the days she bothered to show up in the office at all, according to a grand jury presentment that yesterday led to the filing of six criminal charges against Ms. Rodavich.
At best, she was in the office two or three days a week, one co-worker testified.
Still, Ms. Rodavich, 53, of Carmichaels, managed to rack up 350 days' worth of compensatory time between 1999 and 2007. Compensatory time is leave awarded for work time beyond the employees' scheduled work. Ms. Rodavich's compensatory time ostensibly was earned by attending after-hours meetings and outreach duties, however, investigators - who conducted interviews and reviewed records - were unable to confirm her attendance at many of those events.
One thing is clear to investigators from state Attorney General Tom Corbett's office, Ms. Rodavich did plenty of campaign work, and her boss, Mr. DeWeese, knew about it and encouraged it.
Boxes of 2006 campaign receipts reviewed by the Post-Gazette suggest Ms. Rodavich spent a good portion of her time on political work. She racked up reimbursement for 2,200 miles en route to fundraisers, campaign meetings and door-to-door canvasses. Receipts show she bought refreshments for a campaign photo shoot, purchased 30 bottles of liquor, rented a television and bought $318 worth of umbrellas aimed at encouraging constituents to "Shower Bill with your vote."
The transactions often occurred during working hours.
One DeWeese staffer, Sheilah Novasky, testified that Ms. Rodavich told district office staffers that it was part of their job to attend campaign meetings and work on elections. She said Ms. Rodavich "suggested, urged, coerced and intimidated others" into doing campaign work, according to yesterday's grand jury's presentment. "The message was loud and clear."
Others said Ms. Rodavich repeatedly told people they would be fired if they refused to do campaign work.
Mr. DeWeese remains an ardent supporter of his longtime employee, now his co-defendant in the corruption probe. Mr. DeWeese was charged with six counts involving the hiring of Ms. Rodavich and Kevin Sidella, another aid who allegedly spent most of his time on campaigns while on the legislative payroll. Mr. Sidella has been cooperating with investigators under a grant of immunity.
Mr. DeWeese described Ms. Rodavich is a bright-eyed former cheerleader who married her high-school sweetheart, "a bruising lineman for the Waynesboro College team." They have two daughters, who were on the Carmichaels Area High School cheerleading squad, where Ms. Rodavich has been a volunteer coach for many years.
Ms. Rodavich could not be reached yesterday and staffers at Mr. DeWeese's Waynesburg district office said she was not in.
Tracie Mauriello can be reached at email@example.com or 717-787-2141.