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The word corrupt gets thrown around quite a bit when it comes to Pennsylvania and Philadelphia politics. And with good reason. Since 2000, at least 39 Philly politicians have been the subject of criminal investigations. And it seems like every couple months or so that list becomes outdated. So corrupt is a natural fit for Pennsylvania. But what about comical? Or oddly vindictive?
Those descriptions seem to fit well as of late. The state’s elected officials and public employees have been combining the normal air of trouble with the creepy (emailing Photoshopped pictures of a topless Sarah Palin) or something you’d see in a movie (allegedly advising agents to break into a fellow state employee’s office).
Here are 13 of the oddest things our state’s politicians have done since 2014. Consider this not just a reminder that our state’s public officials not only overreach but do so in head-scratching ways.
Frank Fina, Philadelphia prosecutor and former deputy attorney general
- Allegedly leaked a story to the Inquirer about a sting case shut down by attorney general Kathleen Kane, about a year after leaving the AG’s office; then proceeded to write an editorial in the Inquirer about Kane’s decision that also mocked her for lawyering up during a meeting… at the Inquirer.
- Along with fellow prosecutor Marc Costanzo, shared concerns with a Montgomery County judge that Kane’s office leaked a story containing grand jury information to the Daily News, helping start the process of Kane being charged with leaking.
Kathleen Kane, Democratic attorney general
- Allegedly leaked info about a grand jury case in which financial impropriety was tied with former leader of the Philadelphia NAACP J. Whyatt Mondesire to embarrass a political foe.
- Allegedly had agents of the attorney general’s office follow political foes Frank Fina and Marc Costanzo into an elevator, stand face-to-face with them and make disparaging comments before they went to testify before a grand jury.
- Agents from her office allegedly broke into state judge Barry Feudale’s office and stole confidential documents.
Rob McCord, Democratic former state treasurer from MontCo
McCord attempted to strong-arm leaders of two law firms into giving him campaign money for a gubernatorial run, including a firm in the Philadelphia area. For that firm in Philadelphia, McCord made a threat to the managing director and then enlisted another employee to work on convincing the managing director to donate. In the court papers, McCord told that employee to relay the message to his boss that he was “going to have the state treasurer looking to screw you. At the very least, I’m going to be the state treasurer. What they hell are they thinking?”
Seth Williams, Democratic district attorney
- Continued the sting case dropped by Kane and wrote an editorial in the Inquirer slamming Kane.
- After a story ran in the Inquirer about the FBI investigating his PAC, blamed Kane — by now facing charges for leaks — for leaking it.
Michael Eakin, Republican former Supreme Court Justice
Was on an email chain for an email titled “Mission:Impossible” that apparently showed a skinny man and obese woman trying to have sex while the “Mission: Impossible” theme song plays in the background.
Sent an email featuring various Photoshopped photos of nude Sarah Palin and was a sender or recipient of several other misogynistic and racist emails.
Bribes gone wrong
Chaka Fattah, Democratic U.S. Congressman
Allegedly accepted a bribe of $18,000 from a lobbyist in exchange for an ambassador spot on the U.S. Trade Commission. The Feds allege Fattah concealed the bribe by making it look like he sold the lobbyist his wife’s Porsche. But the Porsche stayed in the Fattahs’ garage. The $18,000 was allegedly used for the closing costs on a house in the Poconos.
Thomasine Tynes, Democratic former traffic court judge
Accepted a diamond tennis bracelet valued at $2,000 in exchange for a court contract and then toasted the person who offered the tennis bracelet by saying, “To making money.”
Ron Waters, Democratic former state representative
Helped set up a meeting about a contract with the Philadelphia Parking Authority for lobbyist Tyron B. Ali and received an envelope stuffed with $1,000 in cash from Ali during a celebration for his 61st birthday. Then Waters decided to refer to himself in the third-person, saying, “My man. Happy Birthday to Ron Waters.”