Howard blasts Pileggi after Orie conviction

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State Sen. Jane Orie

EAST MARLBOROUGH — The GOP primary challenger to state Sen. Dominic Pileggi blasted the Senate Majority Leader and his fellow leaders for not calling for the resignation of state Sen. Jane Orie, who was convicted this of 14 counts related to using state employees to work on her election campaigns.

The once powerful Republican state Sen. Orie — her sister Joan Orie Melvin is a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court — was convicted Monday on 14 counts of theft of services, conflict of interest, and forgery. Roger Howard, the township man challenging Pileggi for the GOP nod for state Senate said he was shocked at the response of Pileggi and his colleague to the conviction.

“The multiple convictions included five felony counts,” Howard said. “

So what was the response from the Republican Leadership in the Statehouse?

“Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, in a joint statement with President Pro Tempore, Joe Scarnati, stated:  ‘Throughout her 15 years of service in the General Assembly, Senator Jane Orie has worked tirelessly on behalf of her constituents.’

“They went on to state they ‘respect’ the jury’s decision. Constituents in the 9th Pennsylvania District would probably prefer it if Sen. Pileggi would show them the respect they deserve, by demanding the immediate resignation of Ms. Orie.”

Howard said he did not understand why taxpayers should continue to pay for salary and benefits for a convicted felon — as Majority Leader, a Pileggi call for her resignation would carry great weight.

“Why should the taxpayers contribute another dollar in salary and benefits to a Senator who has been convicted of stealing, lying, and forgery?” Howard asked. “If this is the ‘tireless work’ on behalf of constituents that Sen. Pileggi is comfortable with, then he is seemingly resigned to corruption as business as usual in Harrisburg.”

While Orie is legally allowed to remain on the job while she appeals her convictions, Howard said he thinks that this is a case where the “legal” thing isn’t the “right” thing — especially after numerous elected officials, Republicans and Democrats, have been convicted of similar offenses.

“State law doesn’t require Senator Pileggi to demand Orie’s resignation,” Howard said.  “Honor and common decency does.”

By failing to call out Orie, Howard suggested that Pileggi is willing to embrace a “culture of corruption in Harrisburg” rather than embarrass a powerful and connected colleague, ignoring what is best for the commonwealth.

“As the next Senator from the 9th District,” Howard said. “I would respectfully request any colleague’s resignation if they are ever convicted of charges which so clearly defraud, defame, and demean the honor it is to represent voters in Harrisburg.”

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