West Oak Lane pastor seeks donations for state Sen. Washington legal-defense fund

 State Sen. Leanna Washington walks to the police station in Abington on March 12. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

State Sen. Leanna Washington walks to the police station in Abington on March 12. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A Northwest Philadelphia pastor is urging fellow supporters of state Sen. LeAnna Washington to contribute to a legal-defense fund created to offset “mounting legal bills” in her political-corruption case.

In a letter that started circulating late last month, Pastor Dr. J. Louis Felton, who leads West Oak Lane’s Mount Airy Church of God in in Christ, wrote, “As a public servant for the past 20-plus years, Sen. Washington does not have adequate financial resources to fight the government alone.”

The pitch and backstory

The letter, obtained by NewsWorks, asks supporters to donate at least $100 to the fund.

In mid-March, a state grand jury charged Washington (D, 4th District) with conflict of interest and theft of services for allegedly ordering her taxpayer-funded legislative staff to organize an annual campaign fundraiser while they were on the clock.

Washington allegedly spent thousands of taxpayer dollars — at least $30,000 — to plan and promote the elaborate “birthday party” event each July.

A trial date has not yet been set.

Felton’s explanation

Reached this week, Felton said that Washington is innocent and that the felony case against her is simply an attempt to “railroad” the veteran lawmaker.

“I will not let anyone abuse my parishioners,” said Felton.

Henry Hockeimer, Washington’s attorney, was not immediately available for comment.

In May, Washington lost a three-way race during the Democratic primary.

She will step down from her post representing parts of Northwest Philadelphia and Montgomery County at the end of December.

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