Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced criminal charges against Senator Leanna Washington (D-Montgomery).
A grand jury found just cause to charge Washington with one count of theft of services, a felony of the third degree that carries a maximum term of seven years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $15,000. She also is charged under the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act with one count of violation of the conflict of interest statute, a felony that carries a maximum term of five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.
The AG’s office alleges that Washington intimidated her staff into performing campaign related duties during state-paid time, particularly on a birthday fundraiser for the Senator that commanded hours of the staff’s time in the months leading up to it.
The monetary loss to the Commonwealth for this staff time is believed to range from at least $30,000 to in excess of $100,000.
“The evidence will show that Senator Washington pressured her staff into performing political activities using taxpayer dollars for her own personal benefit,” said Attorney General Kane.
If convicted of all counts, Washington faces a maximum sentence of 12 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $25,000. Washington is being allowed to turn herself in today.
She has represented the 4th Senatorial District since 2005. She’s up for reelection this year, and two Democrats were lined up to face her in the primary.
A press release from the Attorney General’s office reminds us that, “A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
“Innocent until proven guilty” applies only to imprisonment or being fined. It applies WITHIN the court system, but not on the street. We make judgments without charges all the time: Corbett on Sandusky probe, etc. If the senator bullied her staff into breaking the law, she ought to join DeWeese, Perzel, Fumo, et al and see the inside of a prison. If the top people don’t obey the law, what hope is there for a statewide rule of law?
One count of each? BS. The grand jury testimony indicates that she had been doing it every July on her birthday for 17 years. Kane’s not tough on corruption. This is a joke.
I agree with innocent until proven guilty.
Although, at this point it’s moved from mere rumors/accusations to formal criminal charges from the AG.
So, I’d say it’s “serious”. By the time of the election, the voters may know more about the evidence and make their own judgement call. Washington’s actions don’t even have to be illegal for voters to judge them “unethical” or unseemly.
I think the effect on her campaign will be devastating, short of complete exoneration by AG well prior to election. That seems unlikely.
Wow pretty sad how fast people just jump to throw you under the bus when you get charged. Last time I checked we still live in the United States where you are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law!! Some people sure love to kick a person when they are down.
What happen to that whole judgement rule?? Sad!!!
Good for AG Kane. Most of the nitwits in Harrisburg on both sides of the aisle, in spite of all the recent convictions, think it is ok to use their staff members to keep them in office. Get on the DOS website and see how many district staff workers just finished circulating petitions for incumbent state reps and sens.
Tom Fodi: Really? That’s your solution?
If politicians KNOW that an AG will be aggressively investigating corruption, some aren’t going to take the risk.
If they expect lax enforcement, many will succumb to the temptations.
Wendy, the AG is a “she” so she can’t do “his” job.
We are kidding ourselves if we believe ramping up prosecution will ultimately end the corruption in Harrisburg. The only real solution that exists to finally bring an end to our corruption breeding full time state legislature. This one of my primary reasons for running for state representative in HD-20.
Read more at http://tomfodi.com/2014/03/12/more-corruption-more-charges-in-harrisburg/
Regardless of the outcome, I’m glad to see that Kane’s willing to make these kinds of prosecutions, and especially when the accused is a fellow Dem. I would love to see more of this sort of thing, since these unethical and illegal practices are widespread and conducted with impunity.
First off the Attorney General is a female not a male. 3rd degree corruption? We are not exactly talking about Ed Dennis in Philly going after big fish like Scarfo and Leland Beloff are we? When she goes after the corrupt colonization program in Philly or the Pennsylvania Dutch Mafia then I will consider the idea that is more than a flunky.
Annette – If you think investigating public corruption is a waste of the AG’s time, you have a very odd understanding of her job.
I applaud AG Kane on continuing the fight against the corruption that is so openly part of Harrisburg’s culture.
Let the AG do his job – I don’t understand why this is a waste of time – i’m amazed how little action there is in tackling political corruption. This seems to be a case of a mutiny among her “soldiers” – And they seem to be ready to throw her into the frying pan
Dear AG, Please stop wasting my tax money on this kind of prosecution. There are real criminals out there and these responses to unhappy employees is just costing the taxpayers. It also uses you and your staff to hurt people and not to put people who are really doing serious crimes on trial.