Two Democratic Pennsylvania state representatives were indicted earlier this week for receiving thousands of dollars in bribes to vote against the state’s voter-identification law. The charges by a Philadelphia district attorney come after the Obama administration’s Department of Justice and Pennsylvania’s Democratic attorney general refused to pursue the case.
State representatives Vanessa Brown and Ron Waters were caught as part of a years-long investigation that found they accepted $4,000 and $7,650, respectively, in cash or money orders from a confidential informant in 2011 ahead of a vote for a bill that required voters to show identification at the polls; the law passed, but was struck down by a judge in January of this year. Waters also reportedly accepted a $2,000 Tiffany bracelet.
Following a grand-jury investigation, Philadelphia district attorney Seth Williams said Brown and Waters “fully admitted that they knowingly took illegal cash payments.”
When the revelations emerged earlier this year, the Keystone State’s top law-enforcement officer, Democratic attorney general Kathleen Kane, said she would not charge Brown or Waters, and shut down the operation that began under her predecessor, then–attorney general and currently outgoing Republican governor Tom Corbett. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Kane called into question how the investigation was conducted and suggested that race played a role in targeting Brown and Waters, who are black.
As PJ Media notes, the Justice Department declined to investigate the case as well, although it has taken steps to investigate other cases of public corruption, such as that of former Republican Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. This left it to Williams, the local district attorney, to file charges after a grand-jury investigation.
Brown and Waters turned themselves in on Tuesday on charges of bribery and conflict of interest, among others, according to Harrisburg’s Patriot-News.