Voter ID Law: Politicians Allegedly Took Bribes, But Attorney General Drops Charges

Robert Jonathan

The Pennsylvania attorney general won't prosecute four Philadelphia state legislators who were allegedly caught in an undercover sting operation taking bribes.

At least one of the politicians involved was "urged" to vote against the state voter ID law.

AG Kathleen Kane claimed that the corruption investigation into four of her fellow Democrats was flawed in part because it was mismanaged, the undercover informant lacked credibility, and racial profiling compromised the probe.

Career prosecutors who worked on the case apparently disagreed with Kane's decision to shut down the probe: "Those who favored the sting believe Kane killed a solid investigation, led by experienced prosecutor Frank G. Fina, that had ensnared several public officials and had the potential to capture more. They said they were outraged at Kane's allegation that race had played a role in the case. Before Kane ended the investigation, sources familiar with the inquiry said, prosecutors amassed 400 hours of audio and videotape that documented at least four city Democrats taking payments in cash or money orders, and in one case a $2,000 Tiffany bracelet."

In one instance, the undercover informant, lobbyist Tyron B. Ali, who was wearing a wire allegedly "went to [a lawmaker's] office and handed her an envelope with $2,000, according to people who have reviewed a transcript of a tape Ali made on that day... After he gave [her] the money, Ali urged her to vote against a bill that would require voters to show identification at the polls, the sources said."

Every Democrat in the Pennsylvania state House voted against the voter ID law, including the lawmaker in question.

Kane has herself lawyered up and may sue the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper for defamation for breaking the story of the abandoned public corruption investigation.

On the surface, it looks like a politician with aspirations for higher office might have squashed the investigation and played the race card for political reasons. It's undetermined at this point whether Gov. Tom Corbett, who was AG when the investigation commenced, could take back the case and appoint a special prosecutor. "Given the dispute, the nonpartisan Committee of Seventy in Philadelphia... urged the legislature to allow for the creation of an independent counsel to conduct 'a fair and nonpartisan' investigation into why the sting case was closed."

If a voter ID law is fundamentally unfair, rather than one reasonable tool to fend off voter fraud, why would any special encouragement to vote against it be necessary?

Putting aside ideology or mythology, to function successfully in day-to-day life as a practical matter, you need a photo ID.

No one seems to have a problem showing ID to get on a plane, opening up a bank account or cashing a check, picking up a package at the post office, UPS, or FedEx, applying for government assistance, checking into a motel, completing a credit card transaction, getting a beer at the ballpark, buying cigarettes (for those foolish enough to still smoke), and even to vote in a union election. You even need a photo ID to buy recreational or medical marijuana in those states where it is legal, and there have no reported problems in that regard. So even stoners or potheads have the wherewithal to obtain a government-issued photo ID.

Do you think the state attorney general would have quashed the political corruption investigation if the legislators were Republican instead of Democrat?

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