Two Democratic Pennsylvania state representatives who serve parts of Philadelphia were indicted on bribery charges Tuesday by the Philadelphia District Attorney after taking money and gifts in exchange for voting against voter identification legislation. The Pennsylvania Attorney General had previously dropped the charges.
— FreedomLives (@shehar44) December 19, 2014
State Reps. Ron Waters (D) and Vanessa Lowery Brown (D) were charged Tuesday with Criminal Conspiracy, Bribery in Official and Political Matters, Conflict of Interest, and Failure to Make Required Disclosures in Statement of Financial Interests for accepting money in exchange for promised political actions. Waters also accepted some Tiffany Jewelry.
The Daily Signal notes both “representatives testified before [the] Grand Jury and admitted their criminal conduct.”
“[The grand jury] had 26 recordings featuring Rep. Ronald G. Waters, accepted nine cash payments from a confidential informant totaling $8,750. The grand jury had 24 recordings of Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown accepting five cash payments totaling $4,000.
“Waters agreed to vote against Pennsylvania House Bill 934, a Voter ID bill, in exchange for $2,000. Brown also agreed to vote against House Bill 934 for the same amount.”
Both legislators turned themselves in Tuesday morning and were released on their own recognizance. Waters is the current Secretary for the House Democratic Caucus, and Brown is the current chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.
The investigation was conducted by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General between 2010 and 2012, but was dropped because Attorney General Kathleen Kane was “troubled” by elements of the case it inherited (including a deal to drop charges against the informant), reported the Post-Gazette. Kane has been in office since 2013. There was also accusations of racism in the ongoing investigation.
But the District Attorney’s Office run by Seth Williams, a Democrat, rejected those allegations:
“The grand jury investigated claims that the original investigation was ‘racist,’ that the CI was not credible because of the alleged magnitude of his own criminal case, that the subjects of the investigation were ‘entrapped,’ and that a ‘comprehensive’ review by subsequent state officials found no basis for bringing charges. The grand jury found each of those criticism empty.”
According to the Post-Gazette, Waters’ Attorney, Fortunato N. Perri, Jr., said his client “will accept responsibility for his conduct and likely resolve this matter without the necessity for trial.”
Other officials were also targeted in the investigation, all Democrats. Louise Williams Bishop and Michelle Brownlee are still being investigated by the grand jury, while former Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes pleaded guilty Wednesday to accepting a $2,000 gift, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
H/T The Daily Signal
Photo credit: Bev Sykes (Flickr)
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom