Even heroes can misspend other people’s money

Two separate letters to the editor in the Patriot News denounce the Commonwealth Foundation for commenting on Colonel Miller’s flights to other states.

Here is Matt Brouillette’s quote in the original article:

“The taxpayers of Pennsylvania should not be charged one penny for the expenses incurred by any public official not doing the Pennsylvania public’s business,” Brouillette said. He has called for the state to sell its planes.

This hardly seems controversial, merely questioning the use of taxpayer funds – a lesson that should apply to all state employees, indeed Governor Rendell’s spokesman says the Governor attempts to be frugal in his own flights (click here for more on why this represents a misuse of funds). Nowhere does the Commonwealth Foundation, or the Patriot-News, question the character of Col. Miller.

Yet the vitriolic resonses are astounding. Letter one:

Now that Miller has retired, following his dream job in the NFL, and is getting national attention, Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation is trying to make a name for himself by riding the colonel’s coattails and ripping his reputation.

Letter two:

What a “nonstory” headlined on the front page and pursued so vigorously by The Patriot-News. From where to do so did the urge come? Is the Commonwealth Foundation looking for publicity? 

Of course, if a single sentence quote in a article “makes a name” for Matt, then he probably doesn’t control what the Patriot News writes and where it places their articles.  The Commonwealth Foundation didn’t come up with the story, or do the research – that credit (or dishonor, according to these letter writers) goes to Jan Murphy.

But I’ll defend Jan’s work as well as Matt’s comments – the press has an obligation to investigate and expose inappropriate spending, regardless of the heroic deeds of unassailable character of the offender.   And that applies to Harvey Dent too.