Monday, February 2, 2009
GroundhogGate: Punxsutawney Phil Accused of Pay to Play Corruption
Punxsutawney Phil, the beloved groundhog who millions of Americans look to for their annual winter forecast, is at the center of a massive federal corruption case. The case accuses Phil of engaging in pay to play tactics by selling his annual winter prediction to the highest bidder. Federal agents arrested Phil during an early morning raid on his den just moments after he made his latest prediction. Federal authorities have charged Phil with multiple counts of corruption, three counts of felony firearm possession, and one count of felony possession of narcotics with intent to distribute.
It remains unknown how long this alleged practice has been going on for, however the case names Snuggie, Inc. as the buyer of this year’s extended winter prediction. Snuggie, Inc. would stand to benefit greatly from a longer winter season through increased sales of their “as seen on TV” Snuggie Thermal Blanket. Another notable alleged pay to play incident occurred in 2002 when Old Navy paid Phil an estimated $3.1 million for a shorter winter so that they could roll out their spring line of coolats sooner. Federal agents, whose primary objective was to arrest Phil on corruption charges, were surprised to find multiple unregistered firearms and large quantities of crack cocaine packed for distribution stockpiled in his den. Pat Fitzgerald, the case’s lead prosecutor, stated, “While Mr. Phil’s corruption charges were our initial focus, we intend to prosecute him on the gun and drug charges to the fullest extent of the law.”
Phil refused to talk to the media as he was being led in handcuffs to the police car. However, his attorney maintained his client’s innocence stating, “My client, Punxsutawney Phil, has done nothing wrong. Furthermore, he’s still the acting groundhog and still has the right to all powers of office.” One notable power of office is the right for Phil to name his successor. Sources are already speculating at potential replacements if the Pennsylvania State Senate votes to impeach Phil. According to one insider, the current frontrunners are Punxsutawney Pete, Punxsutawney Paul, and Caroline Kennedy.