Guest Editorial…Ban on cash gifts to lawmakers overdue

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Pennsylvania lawmakers took major steps toward reform last week by passing bipartisan legislation that bans most types of cash gifts in response to recent allegations that some state representatives accepted cash from a confidential informant in a criminal investigation.

On Wednesday, the bipartisan House Management Committee adopted a new ethics rule prohibiting cash gifts, although money from non-lobbyist family members and friends is allowed.

The move is clearly in response to reports in The Philadelphia Inquirer that four legislators accepted payments from a lobbyist wearing a wire for state prosecutors.

The allegations that four Pennsylvania lawmakers were caught on video accepting money from a confidential informant during a criminal investigation underscored the need for such a ban.

The lawmakers allegedly 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 it because it was too badly flawed when she inherited it. She said the informant, Tyron B. Ali, worked largely unsupervised in an investigation improperly targeting Black lawmakers.

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