Chaos as Rep Calls for Investigation into Corbett for Sandusky investigation; Republicans Turn off Lights and Flee
About an hour ago, all hell broke loose on the Pennsylvania House floor when Rep. Tim Briggs (D-Montgomery County) called for a discharge petition on HR 520–a resolution that calls for an investigation into Gov. Corbett’s investigation of Jerry Sandusky.
Since the Penn State scandal broke last November, Corbett, who oversaw the investigation as Pennsylvania Attorney General, has consistently faced criticism that he slow-walked and otherwise mishandled the investigation.
“There are valid, still unanswered questions about the way in which then-Attorney General Tom Corbett conducted the investigation that led to the conviction of child rapist Jerry Sandusky,” Briggs said. “I called up this discharge petition to force action on the issue because Governor Corbett continues to use recrimination of his own to dodge and disparage those who question why it took three years to bring charges against a man he and his investigators knew in the early stages to be a child predator.”
It’s well-known that Corbett doesn’t like to answer questions about his decisions regarding Sandusky and Penn State.
According to a recent article in the Centre Daily Times, a Franklin & Marshall poll “found only about a sixth of registered voters (17 percent) think Corbett did an excellent or good job of investigating the Sandusky child sexual abuse case, while almost two-thirds (65 percent) think he did a fair or poor job.”
First introduced by Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Allegheny) last December, HR 520 calls, in part, for the US AG to “appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General of an investigation into alleged sexual abuse of minors.”
Unsurprisingly, the bill sat in the Rules committee, which is chaired by Republican Rep. Mike “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done!” Turzai (R-Allegheny). In June, Rep. Brandan Neuman (D-Washington) called for a rarely used parliamentary procedure called a discharge resolution, which requires 25 signatures to force a bill out of committee.
“I think it could produce some answers to questions that the public and elected officials have,” Neuman told the Associated Press at the time. “Why it took so long, why was Jerry Sandusky allowed to be around children during the investigation.”
Still, it languished.
Facing the end of the session, Rep. Briggs, who signed the resolution back in June, made a motion to bring the discharge resolution back into play to force a vote in the House tonight.
No one seems to know what happened after that, but it certainly wasn’t protocol. A source on the scene tells PW that Rep. Sam Smith, the Republican Speaker of the House, simply refused to recognize Briggs, without explanation. Then the lights cut out, and “Republicans fled.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Miskin, spokesman for House Republican Caucus, has been tweeting his reaction. He tweeted: “@PAHouseGOP was prepared to vote HB2318 requiring schools to teach about Child Exploitation, but Dems mucked it up with non-related stuff” and then “To sum it up… the @PAHouseGOP wanted to debate substantive legislation, #PAHouse Dems wanted to help a specific political campaign.”
The session is on a temporary break as everyone figures out protocol. Will the House have to vote on investigating Gov. Corbett? We should know tonight.
“The best and most responsible way to find out what really happened is to have an independent body investigate,” said Briggs. “I am extremely disappointed that Speaker Smith would completely disregard a valid motion by a member of the House because, I unfortunately am left to assume, he’s trying to keep an independent body from investigating the matter.”
According to Briggs, the investigating Grand Jury report on Sandusky found there were credible allegations of sexual abuse lodged against Sandusky as far back as 1998, yet it was years before the criminal complaint was filed by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General and Sandusky was finally arrested in November 2011. While these allegations were pending, Sandusky continued to have contact with minors, putting them at risk of sexual abuse.
Sandusky is scheduled to be sentenced in Centre County next week.