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DeWeese seeks cost of 4-year probe

HARRISBURG -- Rep. Bill DeWeese, who faces criminal charges of using state employees for campaigns, used his position in the House on Thursday to question publicly the cost of the state attorney general's four-year investigation of the Legislature.

The prosecutor's office declined to provide most numbers that the Waynesburg Democrat requested in a Right to Know Law request, which he made 10 days ago and released yesterday.

"Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on this investigation and for general operations of the attorney general's office. ... Let's see where the money went," DeWeese told the House Appropriations Committee.

The type of financial information that DeWeese seeks doesn't exist, said Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, spokesman for acting Attorney General Bill Ryan.

DeWeese, for instance, wants percentage of staff time devoted to the investigation and employee hours.

"We're not a Philadelphia law firm working on billable hours," said Hagen-Frederiksen. "Our staff gets paid the same, regardless of what they're working on."

Hagen-Frederiksen said DeWeese sought similar information in court and was denied.

"It begs the question: Are these questions being asked as a state representative or as a criminal defendant?" Hagen-Frederiksen said.

No trial date has been set for DeWeese and an aide, Sharon Rodavich, who will be tried separately.

A tradition allows any House member to make comments at the conclusion of hearings on the budget and an invitation went to all members, said Rep. Bill Adolph, R-Delaware County.

Adolph said DeWeese, who is not a member of the budget panel, several weeks ago asked Republicans and Democrats on the committee to ask a list of questions about the investigation. "Neither side wanted to ask those questions," Adolph said.

DeWeese and Rodavich were charged in December 2009 as part of a sweeping investigation by then-Attorney General and now Gov. Tom Corbett into the use of public resources for campaigns. They are charged with theft, conflict of interest and conspiracy.

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