Throughout her time in office, Pennsylvania state senator LeAnna Washington has made it a priority to help constituents manage the stress and confusion of tax season by offering tax preparation seminars. She has regularly partnered with local accountants to bring free tax preparation services to those that attended her seminars. While Senator Washington made an effort to assist in her constituents in paying taxes, she also apparently had a penchant for using taxpayer dollars for personal gain.
This week, Mainline Media News reported that state senator LeAnna Washington has been charged with two felonies for her role in allegedly pressuring staff into performing political activities using taxpayer dollars. She is charged with theft of services, a third-degree felony, and a conflict of interest violation under the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act, also a felony. The total maximum prison time for both charges is twelve years and the total maximum fine of $15,000.
The investigation into Senator Washington was allegedly triggered by a “disgruntled former employee.” In October of last year Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office obtained warrants to confiscate documents, computers, and other materials linked to fundraising and campaigning from Washington’s offices.
Mainline Media News reported the damning details.
A statewide investigating grand jury found Washington used intimidation and verbal abuse, directed at Senate staff to perform illegal campaign work, according to the release. She is also accused of issuing salary cuts and firing staff who disagreed with the activities, the release states.
According to the release, Washington allegedly used state-paid employees and equipment at her district offices to organize an annual political campaign birthday fundraiser. In the release, a former staff member of the senator described the event, which was held in July to coincide with the senator’s birthday, as a “grand, gala event.”
A life in politics can make well-meaning, good spirited people into immoral thieves, hell-bent on retaining their access to power. According to LeAnna Washington’s Facebook page, she served twelve years in the House of Representatives before being elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate on May 17, 2005. If these charges are true, LeAnna Washington was not afraid to break a few laws in order to prolong her political career.
There is no way for the casual observer to be certain of Washington’s motivations, but it is not hard to imagine how the lust for power could have clouded her judgment. LeAnna Washington probably felt that she was the most qualified individual to hold her position as state senator. She most likely reasoned that stealing taxpayer funds to help her re-election campaign would benefit her constituents in the end, because they would be graced by many more years of her benevolent service.
The story goes on to describe most instances of the illegal use of taxpayer funds.