Pennsylvania, a state in need of an ethical makeover

    Back in August, I did a piece on how often crooked Pennsylvania legislators get expensive lawyers at taxpayer expense, and how rarely anybody asks for the money back once they’re convicted.

    Now Craig McCoy of the Inquirer has exposed just how much worse the system is than anybody knew.

    If you missed it over the holiday weekend, read the remarkable story of how a Repuplican staff member caught up in a corruption probe says lawyers hired by top legislative leaders (at your expense) lied to him and kept him from getting an immunity deal and testifying against officials represented by the same lawyers.

    Al Bowman, a longtime staffer to former State House Speaker John Perzel made the allegation in a civil suit which has since been settled, so the law firms admitted no guilt. Bowman said he was prepared to give prosecutors helpful information in the case, but was falsely told by attorneys that the prosecutors weren’t ready to talk to him.

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    So instead of getting immunity as many others did, Bowman was indicted, and in the end had to plead guilty to one count and get probation.

    I was reminded of another loathsome Pennsylvania practice, electing our judges, by a New York Times editorial last week. The Times noted that $28 million was spent on TV ads for state supreme court races this year, and increasing amounts of that money is coming from Super PAC’s and political groups that don’t disclose their donors.

    It’s bad enough judges are routinely hearing cases argued by attorneys who’ve contributed to their campaigns. Now we have anonymous parties helping to pick our judges.

    Time for some change, folks.

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