Congressman Jim Gerlach points out how one of partisan Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett's staunchest allies agrees that prosecutors should resign if they decide to run for political office.
Allegheny County Republican Chair Jim Roddey opined yesterday that Western PA US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan should resign if she decideds to run for Congress. That is good advice for Buchanan and certainly good advice for Corbett.
Here is the Gerlach Campaign release in its entirety:
--- For Immediate Release: October 9, 2009 ---
ALLEGHENY GOP CHAIR MAKES CLEAR CASE FOR CORBETT RESIGNATION
(Exton, PA) - Allegheny County Republican Chair Jim Roddey, a major Corbett for Governor supporter, was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette today stating that prosecutors seeking political office should "step down" when they announce their candidacy to avoid "ethical qualms." Corbett, who is an announced candidate and sitting state attorney general, has refused to step down from his position, despite raising money and political support for months while simultaneously investigating political corruption in both parties. Roddey's comments came in reference to a sitting U.S. prosecutor rumored to be exploring a run for Congress in western Pennsylvania.
"We are glad that Chairman Roddey recognizes the 'ethical qualms' and clear conflict of interest that have existed for at least a month now, beginning on the day Corbett officially announced his campaign for governor," said Scott Migli, campaign manager for the Gerlach for Governor campaign. "We believe the same principle raised in the article applies to Corbett, and that's why we publicly asked for a suspension of his gubernatorial campaign or his resignation because it is very difficult to distinguish how Corbett separates his political investigation during the day from seeking political support at night."
In August, Congressman Jim Gerlach called on Corbett to either suspend his gubernatorial campaign or resign his position as Attorney General while conducting a wide-ranging political investigation into both parties. Despite raising money and political support for his gubernatorial effort since March from within the same political circles as those he is supposed to be investigating, Corbett officially announced his candidacy September 14th and has refused calls to step down as Attorney General.
Last month, the Patriot News, which first discovered the illegal bonuses that led to Corbett's investigation, raised further concerns about Corbett's political ambitions while trying to run a full-time investigation. The editorial board called on Corbett to make a decision by October, stating that "too much is at stake for taxpayers and good governance to see this critical investigation be called into question by election politics."
And while other editorial boards around the state have called on Corbett to drop his bid for Governor, the Chambersburg Public Opinion wrote that "it doesn't bode well for the state's highest office when a leading candidate seems to mix the pursuit of justice with his own ambitions."
Former US Attorney David Marston agreed. In an editorial he penned back in April, Marston said Corbett "does us all a disservice" by trying to campaign and prosecute at the same time, and that he needs to choose one over the other. He added that it raises too many questions: "if you were a state legislator under prosecutor Corbett's microscope, would it not seem prudent to support Corbett for governor?" "Is he advancing the public interest in honest government, or his personal interest in becoming governor?" "Worse, the trials of cases brought in Bonusgate could very well take place during the heat of the gubernatorial race, presenting defense attorneys with a potent argument that it really is all about politics."