|Posted:||December 30, 2014 11:52 AM|
|From:||Representative Seth M. Grove|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) Of the PA Consolidated Statutes , providing for Independent Counsel (Formerly HB2193)|
|In the near future, I plan to reintroduce House Bill 2193 from the 2013-2014 session to restore the people's faith in their elected officials by creating a nonpartisan process to investigate breaches of the public trust in state government. After multiple lawmakers were reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer to have taken bribes in exchange for votes, the need to reestablish an Independent Counsel became abundantly clear. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event as over the last decade Pennsylvanians have been forced to endure 15 of their legislators be charged with committing a crime including multiple House Speakers. These recent bribery charges only underline the simple fact; Harrisburg must swiftly put institutional reforms in place to prevent and prosecute corruption and restore the public trust.
My plan to start restoring the public’s faith in their elected officials is to reauthorize the Independent Counsel, which the General Assembly had previously created in Act 19 of 1998 and expired in 2003. Under my bill, the Speaker of the House can request that a panel of five judges chosen at random appoint a special investigator to conduct a 30 day preliminary investigation on the conduct of a House Member. This investigation will take place if the Speaker has received sufficient evidence to believe a member might have committed any crime that constituted a breach of the public trust. After the preliminary investigation is conducted, if four of the five judges on this Special Investigative Counsel panel vote to appoint a Special Independent Counsel, then an Independent Counsel will be appointed. This Independent Counsel will operate with all the powers and authority of the Attorney General’s office to investigate only the issue as prescribed by the panel.
The process built into this bill serves to provide the legislature with an impartial, mechanism to prevent corruption and ensure all breaches of the public trust are investigated. The presence of the Independent Counsel will serve as an ever vigilant watchdog reminding Pennsylvania’s elected officials they serve their constituents. For those who break the sacred trust placed into them by the people of this Commonwealth, the Independent Counsel will mean the death of their career. By authorizing the Independent Counsel, the legislature makes it clear to the people of Pennsylvania we hold the trust they have placed in us as their elected officials with upmost respect and importance. Therefore, in the aftermath of the recent bribery charges against multiple House Members, it is time for the General Assembly to create an independent watchdog to prosecute corruption and restore the people’s faith in their government.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation by clicking on the link below.
If you have any questions, please contact Jordan Grant by phone at (717) 767-3947 or by email at Jgrant@pahousegop,com .
Previous Cosponsors. Saylor, Bloom, Millard, Masser, Barrar, C. Harris, M.K. Keller, Gabler, Mullery, Lawrence, Metcalfe, Baker, Watson and Murt
Introduced as HB146