State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Another investigation into stung lawmakers

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jul 21, 2014 10:38 PM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf


Yet another governmental body appears to be investigating four Philadelphia Democrats for allegedly accepting cash or gifts from an undercover informant.

A letter from the State Ethics Commission indicates an investigation into the four state lawmakers implicated in a corruption sting.

"It's in the rules - they notify a complainant that an investigation is going on, but they only give case numbers," said activist Gene Stilp, who received the letter last week in response to four separate complaints he filed in March against Reps. Ron Waters, Vanessa Brown, Michelle Brownlee, and Louise Bishop.

Stilp, also a Democratic candidate for state House, said the commission's findings could lead to fines against the lawmakers, or even criminal charges, if substantial findings are passed along to the state attorney general, Kathleen Kane.

"Which is ironic," Stilp said, "because she has not prosecuted."

A sting operation that led to four lawmakers accepting cash or gifts from an undercover informant, on tape, began with state prosecutors in the attorney general's office under then-Attorney General Tom Corbett. Democratic Attorney General Kane dropped the case, calling it flawed. It has since been sent to the Philadelphia district attorney's office, which is investigating the implicated lawmakers, as is the state House Ethics Committee.

Reports on the aborted sting prompted activists to call for criminal charges to be filed, and spurred some lawmakers to propose tighter ethics laws. Stilp began filing complaints to every investigative body he could think of when the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the sting in March.

"You have to keep on filing things in order to get the proper results and also to hold the legislators' feet to the fire," Stilp said. "In this case, any citizen could have filed these complaints. I filed it immediately to start the process."

Published in State House Sound Bites

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