Time to ban cash, gifts to lawmakers

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The allegations that four Pennsylvania lawmakers were caught on video accepting money from a confidential informant during a criminal investigation reaffirm the need for a ban on all cash and gifts to elected officials and staff in state government.

According to news reports, the Pennsylvania lawmakers accepted the money as part of a sting operation that never produced charges. Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who inherited the investigation when she took office early last year, said she ended the investigation because she considered it flawed. She said the informant, Tyron B. Ali, worked largely unsupervised in an investigation improperly targeting Black lawmakers.

However, District Attorney Seth Williams, who supervises the former state prosecutor and agent who worked the case, said the case was solid. Williams, who is African-American, also denied racial targeting occurred.

The four Philadelphia House Democrats who reportedly took money from Ali were: Rep. Ronald G. Waters for a total of $7,650; Rep. Vanessa Brown, $4,000; Rep. Michelle Brownlee, $3,500; and Rep Louise Bishop, $1,500.

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