A pair of Pennsylvania state legislators has been indicted for allegedly accepting cash and gift bribes in return for promising to oppose voter ID legislation.
Pennsylvania State Reps. Vanessa Brown and Jon Waters, both Philadelphia-area Democrats, were indicted Dec. 16 after Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams took up local charges that state Attorney General Kathleen Kane had opted not to pursue.
Both Williams and Kane are Democrats, but Williams did not hesitate to blast AG Kane for appearing to coddle her partisan peers, as well as for invoking the unfounded idea that racial motives might have played a role in the indicted lawmakers’ very public embarrassment. Both lawmakers, as well as Williams are black; AG Kane is white.
“As an African-American and as a law enforcement official, I was disgusted that the attorney general would bring racism into this case,” Williams told reporters after the indictment had been handed down. “It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire for no reason, no reason at all.”
You can read much more from Williams at Pennlive.com, including a point-by-point rebuttal of Kane’s explanation for passing on the case.
Each of the lawmakers admitted they had taken payment in exchange for political influence, following an informant’s recording of a series of conversations leading up to a 2011 legislative vote on a Pennsylvania voter ID law. Brown allegedly accepted $4,000 to oppose the law; Waters allegedly took $7,650. She also allegedly accepted a Tiffany & Co. bracelet in exchange for her vote.
Brown and Waters were indicted in Dauphin County on charges of criminal conspiracy, bribery, conflict of interest and failure to disclose financial information required of public officials who hold elected positions. Both legislators turned themselves in to local authorities after the indictment.