A sting operation designed to nab dishonest politicians in the act of accepting bribes was abruptly shut down by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. The only politicians caught were Democrats; Kane is a Democrat.
The sting was set in morion in 2010 by Kane’s predecessor in office and current governor, Republican Tom Corbett, and politicians from both major political parties were tested, according to Philly.com.
In a statement to the Philadelphia Inquirer Friday, “Kane called the investigation poorly conceived, badly managed, and tainted by racism,” Philly.com reported.
The operation was put in play by Corbett as part of a plea deal he offered a corrupt lobbyist, Tyron B. Ali, who was then facing prosecution in a $430,000 fraud case. All he had to do was wear a wire while offering politicians cash and gifts, and life would suddenly get easier for him.
Not a single person has been charged, and the names of those caught in the sting have been withheld. However, the name of former Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes came up, and she admits to having received a $2,000 Tiffany diamond bracelet from Ali.
Those close to the investigation told the Philadelphia Inquirer that a number of state legislators were also among those caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Philly.com reported:
Four state lawmakers took money, the sources said. State Rep. Ronald G. Waters accepted multiple payments totaling $7,650; State Rep. Vanessa Brown took $4,000; State Rep. Michelle Brownlee received $3,500; and State Rep. Louise Bishop took $1,500, said people with knowledge of the investigation.
Bishop denied receiving money. Brownlee said she couldn’t recall taking a payment, and Brown declined to discuss the matter.
When contacted for comment, Waters said “I’m trying to remember if he gave me something for my birthday.”
In one of the payments to Brown, Ali reportedly “handed her an envelope with $2,000, according to people who have reviewed a transcript of a tape Ali made on that day.” That transaction reportedly took place in her office. Philly.com continued:
As Brown accepted the money, they said, she put it in her purse and said: “Yo, good looking and Ooowee…. Thank you twice.”
After he gave Brown the money, Ali urged her to vote against a bill that would require voters to show identification at the polls, the sources said.
Brown voted against the measure – as did every other Democrat in the House.
Kane began shutting down the investigation soon after she assumed office in 2013. Those who have reviewed the transcripts and records claim the sting yielded some 400 hours of audio and videotaped bribe offers to politicians. She made it official Friday.
Kane declined an interview with the Inquirer but offered a statement, in which she claimed the investigation was flawed due to orders allegedly issued to target “only members of the General Assembly’s Black Caucus” while ignoring “potentially illegal acts by white members of the General Assembly.”
A source close to Frank G. Fina, who was the lead prosecutor in the operation, called Kane’s assertions a “desperate smear” founded in falsehoods.
Her allegation is also difficult to fathom given that the investigation itself was a joint effort between state personnel and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
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