State House Sound Bites

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

McCord to plead guilty to charges from campaign donor shakedowns

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jan 30, 2015 4:32 PM
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State Treasurer Rob McCord will plead guilty to federal charges he tried to compel two potential donors to give to his campaign or risk any business they had with the commonwealth, he said Friday.

In a video statement distributed by his lawyer, McCord says his resignation planned for mid-February will now be effective immediately.

"I stepped over the line by trying to take advantage of the fact that two potential contributors hoped to continue to do business with the commonwealth, and by developing talking points to remind them that I could make things difficult for them," said McCord in a statement was dated January 30. "I essentially said that the potential contributors should not risk making an enemy of the state treasurer. Clearly that was wrong. I was wrong. It was a mistake."

The campaign shakedowns happened during McCord's unsuccessful bid to become governor as he raised money in the four-way Democratic primary.

His attorney, Robert Welsh, said reports claiming theft or misuse of campaign funds are false. Welsh has not specificed the federal charges, only that they would be filed "in the near future." It is not clear what kind of sentence might await McCord.

McCord had announced Thursday in a written statement that he would resign mid-way through his second term as treasurer, effective February 12. Hours later, several news outlets began reporting that he was the subject of a federal investigation.

In a written statement, Governor Tom Wolf said he would move swiftly to nominate a replacement to serve the remainder of McCord's term:

"This is a sad day for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and for Rob McCord's family. As elected leaders we should be stewards of democracy and we should act to protect hardworking taxpayers, not take advantage of them. This type of behavior leads to the erosion of the public's trust - it is simply unacceptable. I stand firm in my commitment to restore the public's trust in their government. Therefore, I will act as quickly as possible to present a nominee to the Senate of the highest caliber and capability."

McCord had selected Treasury's chief counsel, Christopher Craig, to serve as acting treasurer until a replacement is nominated. Craig released the following in a written statement:

"Rob McCord has been an excellent treasurer and a friend to many. It is difficult to see his tenure as treasurer end this way. We respect him for acting decisively to prevent any adverse impact on the operations of the Pennsylvania Treasury, by making his resignation immediate. Treasury has always been committed to executing its duties in the best interests of the commonwealth and its citizens, and that will continue. Our paramount obligation, and one we faithfully honor every single day, is to manage the funds and pay the debts of the Commonwealth efficiently, accurately, and with total integrity. As we await a new treasurer assuming office, the leadership team already in place is committed to ensuring the continuity of Treasury operations and to remaining good stewards of the public trust."

Published in State House Sound Bites

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