STATE CAPITOL NEWS- Paul Gordon Collier- The recent resignation of a State House Representative may have implications for the current PA Attorney General, Kathleen Kane. The representative in question is Philadelphia Democrat, Michelle Brownlee, who presented her resignation letter this past Monday.
In the letter, Representative Brownee stated that her resignation would take place immediately. The resignation follows Brownlee’s recent guilty plea to corruption. Brownee was accused of taking cash from groups and individuals in exchange for favors. She was sentenced to 18 months probation in the plea deal. She was alsoordered to pay $2,000 in restitution and $3,500 in court costs to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.
Despite her guilty plea, Brownlee’s lifelong pension, which all PA Legislators receive after serving, is not, at present, being threatened
In her guilty plea, Brownlee admitted to accepting $2,000 to an informant that she thought was a ‘lobbyist’ who wanted special access to her office. That lobbyist was actually an agent named Tyron B. Ali.
She is the fourth official to plead guilty in a sting operation that Attorney General Kathleen Kane had declined to follow up, accusing the investigation of being racially motivated since all of the accused officials were blacks. Kane held that the investigation was ‘unprosecutable.’
When Kane refused to take up the case, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams charged Brownlee, along with five others. The actions of Kathleen Kane have been questioned by Williams and others, including members of her own party. Kane is currently under investigation by special prosecutor, Montgomery County DA Risa Ferman.
The Montgomery County district attorney is investigating Kane after a grand jury recommended indicting Kane on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Those recommended indictments came after a grand jury was called to investigate a 2009 case being prosecuted by Kane. The allegations were that Kane provided confidential information to a newspaper to target her political opposition.
Risa is a investigating Kane for firing Attorney James Barker. Kane is accused of firing Barker as retaliation against Barker for testifying against her.
State Reps. Vanessa Lowery Brown, 48, and Ronald G. Waters, 64, were under investigation for allegedly taking bribes. When the case was presented to Kane, she dismissed it as “half-a$%ed” and “dead on arrival.’
The State Reps were caught on tape accepting money in what appeared to be payment for political favors. Both Representatives are African-American.
Democrat Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, (in December 2014), accused Kane of being irresponsible, of accusing the investigation of being racist in nature without offering any evidence as proof. He made this statement at a press conference announcing his intention to prosecute both Brown and Waters on bribery charges.
According to DA Williams, the lawmakers have admitted to a grand jury that they did, in fact, accept payment in exchange for political favors. Waters admitted to accepting $8,750 while Brown admitted to taking $4000.
Waters entered a guilty plea last week, while Brown recently withdrew her guilty plea. Representative Harold James, D-Philadelphia, also plead guilty. Waters also resigned from his seat. Both men were sentenced to probation.
A fourth official, former President Judge of Traffic Court in Philadelphia, Thomasine Tynes, also plead guilty, bringing the total number of officials convicted to four. Given Kane’s refusal to prosecute the case, the record of the Philadelphia Attorney General so far, getting four out of six convictions, damages Kane’s already damaged credibility.