Has another Pennsylvania pol been snared?
It is entirely possible that state Sen. LeAnna Washington keeps her office completely separate from her campaigns. There might be no crossover by on-the-clock, state-paid employees into political activity. Let's start with that assumption because she has not been charged or accused of wrongdoing.
Agents of the state attorney general served search warrants on two district offices of the Democrat recently, seeking evidence of campaign activity, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Washington's lawyer has been quoted as saying the information came from a disgruntled employee. But if there's anything to it, the situation is simply mind-boggling.
Since 2009, at least 27 state officials, mostly legislative staffers but including two former House speakers and a Supreme Court justice, have been convicted of crimes related to using public resources for campaigns. Eight ex-legislative leaders were in prison at the same time this summer for charges related to abusing tax dollars for campaign activity and, in one case, personal work. In all, 38 people with ties to the Capitol were charged by state, federal and local prosecutors of various charges.
So you would think any legislator in his or her right mind would, at least on a regular basis, tell staffers to remove any campaign materials from the office. Memos in boldface capital letters — spelling out the campaign-material ban — would be required to be posted on walls or poster boards above each desk.
Yes, a lot of staffers went to prison but the legislator was ultimately responsible. If I were a legislator, I would be paranoid-crazy about a sloppy staffer, a potential mole or clerks, interns and secretaries seeking revenge. There would be a shakedown every week, like corrections officers do looking for contraband. There would be zero tolerance within the office: one slip-up would result in dismissal.
But I am not blaming staffers; they typically do what their bosses want.
Former Senate Republican Whip Jane Orie, of McCandless, and two of her sisters were taken down by an intern unhappy about campaign work she saw. She said she reported it to Allegheny County District Attorney Steve Zappala after first calling the AG's office and getting bounced back to Pittsburgh.
The majority of the corruption cases were launched by former Attorney General and now Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican. The feds prosecuted Vince Fumo. The search of Washington's office was carried out by Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat.
In the end, the Washington situation is absurd, scary and hopefully wrong, given the warning she and other legislators have had.
Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media (717-787-1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.
- Pirates, Worley edge Brewers, 1-0, move to cusp of playoffs
- Fans sporting black and gold show up for Steelers game in Charlotte
- Penguins notebook: Carcillo hopes to give team physical edge
- East Hills shooting victim found in Wilkinsburg
- Pirates notebook: Bucs set single-season attendance record
- Penn State notebook: Backup QB Crook acquits himself well in debut
- Officials say too many in the 18-64 age range skip flu vaccination
- Inside the glass: Penguins’ Martin, Ehrhoff look comfortable together
- MLB notebook: Braves GM Wren faces uncertain future
- Police say rifle carried by suspect in state trooper ambush found
- Pirates find a bridge at end of baseball world in Holdzkom