Sting Probe Has PA House Support

Plus: The politician who didn't take the money.

The Patriot-News reports that both Republican and Democratic leaders in the Pennsylvania House are offering “sufficient resources” to the House Ethics Committee to pursue an abandoned probe of Philly Democrats who allegedly took cash from an undercover investigator in a sting operation.

The money was offered to leverage  support for diverse causes including state liquor store privatization, getting Philadelphia city contracts and winning state grant funds,  according to summaries of the taped conversations made available to PennLive.

While none of the lawmakers in question have been charged, House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson;,House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny; and Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, said in their letter (below) to Ethics Committee Chairmen Scott Petri, R-Bucks and Nick Kotik, D-Allegheny, “concerns exist about actions they are alleged to have taken.”

The House Ethics Committee conducts its business under a veil of secrecy. In fact, House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin said if the leaders had asked in their letter for an investigation, instead of offering up resources the committee may need to conduct one, the letter would not have been made public.

The sting didn’t snare everybody it sought, the Inky reports today.  Rep. Angel Cruz turned down an envelope of cash from the informant.

In an interview Wednesday, Cruz said he wanted to make sure that any money he accepted came in a check for his campaign fund, as required by law.

“I don’t take nobody’s money,” Cruz said Wednesday. “If you are going to donate money to the campaign, it has to be a fund-raiser, it has to be a check, we are going to declare it, and it never touches my hands. I never, ever, ever touch money.”

In his 14 years in the Capitol, Cruz said, his hallway encounter with Ali marked the first time anyone had tried to hand him an envelope stuffed with cash. Sure, lobbyists had tried to take him to lunch or dinner or drinks, but no one, he said, had ever offered him an outright bribe.