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Ex-Orie staffer testifies she objected to doing election work on state time

A former staffer for state Sen. Jane Orie told an Allegheny County jury Monday that she objected to doing political work in the office after reading about the legislative Bonusgate scandal.

Audrey Mackie, 28, who worked for Orie from August 2006 to December 2009, testified on the 10th day of Orie's corruption trial that she did political work on state time for Orie, including making calls and keeping fundraiser databases.

"I said, 'I don't want to do this anymore. We could get in trouble,' " Mackie said she told Orie's former chief of staff, Jamie Pavlot. "I put two and two together, and kind of realized I was politicking on state time."

Prosecutors accuse Orie, 50, a McCandless Republican, of using her state-paid staff to campaign for her and her sister, Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. Orie maintains her innocence. Melvin, 55, of Marshall, is not charged but is under investigation.

Mackie said in one instance she created an election flyer featuring Melvin and other Republican-endorsed judicial candidates. As with many campaign-related flyers and letters, it stated "Not paid for at taxpayer expense" at the bottom.

"It's not true, because I did it during the day using Senate computers," Mackie said. She said she wasn't assigned political work after she complained.

On cross-examination by Orie's attorney, William Costopoulos, Mackie agreed that Orie's campaign paid for many materials used for election-related work, including paper and ink cartridges.

Another former staffer, Drew Miller, took the witness stand before court recessed for the day. The prosecution's case is expected to continue throughout the week.

Orie's first trial ended in a mistrial last March when a judge determined her defense introduced forged documents as evidence. District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. later charged Orie with forgery.

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