Shades of Bonusgate: Investigators search Pa. lawmaker’s office

Friday raids by investigators from the state attorney general’s office on the offices of Pennsylvania state Sen. Leanna Washington evoke memories of recent corruption cases involving illegal political activity.

Washington, who represents parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, says she’ll cooperate with investigators who served search warrants on two of her offices Friday, but won’t comment beyond that. Stories in the Inquirer and Daily New quote sources saying the materials sought involve campaign activity.

 

Cases involving the use of legislative staff and resources for political work took down some of the Legislature’s most powerful leaders in recent years.

 

The cases known as Bonusgate made lawmakers somewhat more cautious, said former legislative staffer and reform leader Timothy Potts. But they didn’t lead to hard prohibitions on political activity that would keep legislators and their staffs from wandering into areas of impropriety, he added.

Potts said they’ll still use their offices and staff for political work, but presumably not during regular office hours.

“It’s a very slippery slope and you just need laws that say, `You cannot do this,'” Potts said. “You cannot store campaign material in your office. You cannot have campaign meetings in your office, all of that stuff.”

Potts said had no knowledge of the Washington investigation, and that when he worked in Harrisburg she seemed to be a conscientious legislator. Washington has not been charged with any crime. A spokesman for state Attorney General Kathleen Kane declined comment.

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