OUT & ABOUT: Kane’s Investigations Should Unsettle Black Politicos

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ATTORNEY GENERAL Kathleen Kane's abandoned - but highly publicized - investigation of graft among Phila. minority elected officials should give Black community food for thought.

ATTORNEY GENERAL Kathleen Kane’s abandoned – but highly publicized – investigation of graft among Phila. minority elected officials should give Black community food for thought.

BY DENISE CLAY/ On Sunday, the Philadelphia Inquirer had a fairly large story on its front page regarding Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s decision to shut down an investigation that had managed to ensnare a bunch of high-profile members of Pennsylvania’s Legislative Black Caucus.

The Attorney General’s Office had centered its sting around a man named Tyron B. Ali, a moderately powered political operative who found himself on the wrong end of the a fraud charge.

In fact, it was a $430,000 fraud charge … for which he was given total immunity in exchange for participating in this sting.

That alone made this whole investigation suspect. You defraud people for darn near $500,000 and folks give you a wire so that you can have lunch at The Palm with politicians and had also thought of giving you luxury office space as they expanded the probe? Really?! And you get no time? Okay….

The sting-ees wound up being folks like State Reps. Vanessa Lowery Brown, Louise Williams Bishop, Ron Waters, Michelle Brownlee and former Traffic Court judge Thomasine Tynes.
And they took stuff. Stuff like money. And let’s be honest here, if someone hands you a light-blue box from Tiffany’s, you should assume that it’s probably a gift you shouldn’t take if you’re a politician … unless it’s your birthday and it’s coming from your significant other.

(Tynes, who got the $2,000 Tiffany bracelet, could have saved herself some trouble if she just put it up for auction at a political fundraiser. I’m just sayin’.)

Kane said the case, which featured 400 hours of taped conversations and represented years of work, was so poorly run that it smacked of entrapment and, because of who got caught up in it, racist.

Those are both valid arguments. Now let’s keep it real here. If you send someone into West Philadelphia to stage a political sting operation, all you’re gonna get is Black politicians. That’s all that’s there. That’s all that gets elected there. Even the folks that represent the University of Pennsylvania section of West Philly, the section that’s the most diverse, are Black.

But those who are mad at Kane for not continuing the probe have a good argument too: These folks represent a community that has been traditionally underserved and has had its issues with people who use their offices not to benefit their constituencies, but to benefit themselves. Someone needs to be taken to the woodshed for that.

And to be fair, Kane has shown an interest in that. Just last week, she handed down an indictment against State Sen. LeAnna Washington for using Senate staffers to plan her fundraiser/birthday party.

But people are going to be keeping an eye on Kane in the African American Political Corruption Dept. for two reasons: One, she’s a Democrat and two, well, she’s a Democrat.

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2 Responses to OUT & ABOUT: Kane’s Investigations Should Unsettle Black Politicos

  1. I disagree with the title of the article. It shouldn’t matter if you’re Black or white, accepting cash in an envelope for doing what you are paid to do anyway is wrong. Furthermore, not reporting the cash on financial disclosure forms is the ultimate crime.

    In our increasingly diverse society, abiding by established rules is better than seeking an easy payday. Did we forget about the travails of Vince Fumo already? Who was more powerful than this elected official? And he was not Black. (I prefer the term African American.) Steer clear of cash in an envelope, should be the mantra going forward.

    Michael E. Bell
    March 23, 2014 at 6:24 am

  2. These legislators should have known better to, one, not take bribes and two, always assume there is a mic.

    What the sting did has been going on in many different ethnic groups for a hundred years, and any excuse given as a racist attack is plain stupid. Kane is stupid.

    I am Blue
    March 27, 2014 at 3:10 am

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