Orie officially resigns seat in Pennsylvania Senate
By Brad Bumsted
Published: Monday, May 21, 2012, 8:58 a.m.
HARRISBURG -- Jane Orie, once the highest-ranking woman in state government, on Monday resigned her $82,026-a-year Senate seat in advance of sentencing on 14 criminal charges.
The resignation for the McCandless Republican, who represented her North Hills district for 11 years, occurred three days after Allegheny County's district attorney charged her sister, Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, with similar crimes of using public resources for campaigns.
The court suspended Melvin, 56, a Marshall Republican, who maintains her innocence. She faces a preliminary hearing Friday.
"She had a great career in the Senate. She was passionate on all the issues she fought for. I know Jane and respect her," said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County. "Blurring political activity and Senate work has been an issue. Keeping campaigning out of these offices has been a goal of ours."
Lt. Gov. James Cawley has 10 days to call a special election for Orie's seat. The election can occur 60 days after his announcement, or as late as the Nov. 6 general election, said Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Senate Republicans. A reapportionment plan would move Orie's district to eastern Pennsylvania. Chad Saylor, a spokesman for Cawley, declined comment.
Orie, 50, a former sex crimes prosecutor in the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office and ex-deputy attorney general, crafted an image as a reformer, especially targeting the state Gaming Control Board.
"I feel for her and her family and certainly wish her the best," said Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery County, who worked with Orie on gambling issues. "I feel horrible for what she's gone through. She was a pillar of reform up here."
As a former majority whip, Orie was in the top rung of Senate leadership. A House member from 1996-2000, she became a senator after a March 2001 special election.
Orie likely will lose a pension that would be based on 16 years of legislative service, though the state pension board does not provide monthly amounts until after a member starts receiving them. Some crimes for which she was convicted, including theft, forgery and tampering with evidence, are among 20 that state law specifies for automatic pension revocation.
Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning will sentence Orie on June 4. An Allegheny County jury in March convicted her of using state staff members for political work and introducing forged documents at trial.
Orie's sentencing initially was scheduled for yesterday. Her attorney, William Costopoulos, sought a delay and promised she would resign. She remains under house arrest.
Though a vacancy exists in the District 40 office, it will remain open so that constituents can seek services, said Arneson. He said Senate leaders had not decided how many people to keep on staff in the district and Harrisburg offices.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Bylsma’s moves — yes, moves — pay off
- Penguins rally to escape with a victory in Game 1 against Columbus
- Physical Columbus team is a hit in playoff opener against Penguins
- US Airways’ pornographic tweet won’t cost anyone a job
- Obama hopes to replicate CCAC job training efforts across United States
- Police see no sign Franklin Regional stabbing suspect was bullied
- Valley News Dispatch Spotlight Athletes: Fox Chapel’s Brandon Mitchell, Burrell’s Melissa Mazzei
- Play of the game: Sutter’s goal completes rally
- First Federal, Community Bank join
- Charleroi Regional makes 3 drug arrests
- Kittanning suspect waives prelim on drug charges