Activist Gene Stilp filed private criminal complaints Tuesday against four state representatives after Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) declined to prosecute an alleged corruption case involving the four.
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported Democratic state Reps. Ronald Waters, Louise Bishop, Michelle Brownlee and Vanessa Lowery Brown were all targets of an undercover sting investigation in which they allegedly took cash gifts from a confidential informant.
“In some cases, the payments were offered in exchange for votes or contracts,” the Inquirer reported on March 16.
Kane declined to prosecute the case, saying it was poorly managed. She said she heard evidence the four lawmakers, all of whom are African-American, were targeted because of their race. She also questioned the credibility of the confidential informant, identified as Tyron Ali.
In exchange for his cooperation, Ali had more than 2,000 criminal charges against him dropped.
“There’s a methodology of getting it before the court, and that’s what I’m trying to do. Use this methodology, which is not used that often. And, this way we might be able to get the answers people are looking for in regard to what the legislators did in Philadelphia,” said Stilp.
Under the state’s rules of criminal procedure, Stilp filed his private criminal complaints with a Dauphin County magisterial district judge. The county district attorney’s office will review the complaints.
Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico already has said he reviewed the case and agreed with Kane’s assessment.
If the district attorney declines to act on Stilp’s complaints, Stilp can appeal to a common pleas judge. Stilp says his ultimate goal is to get the case before a judge.
Stilp only filed complaints against three of the four lawmakers. He left out Rep. Louise Bishop, citing her age.
“I’m not the kind of guy who files anything against an 80-year-old woman. We’ll look at these three other legislators and, hopefully, let the court decide what should be done in this case,” said Stilp.
The four lawmakers either have denied wrongdoing or denied ever taking the money.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate are considering bans on cash gifts in light of the case.