(Harrisburg, PA, ) – In response to the Senate Committee on Ethics and Official Conduct’s dismissal of his request for an investigation of Senator Robert J. Mellow filed on February 1, 2010, Eric Epstein requested that the Committee reconvene and reexamine the matter. (Enclosure)
A copy of the request was forwarded to the Attorney General Tom Corbett, and Executive Director, John J. Continue Pennsylvania State Ethic’s Commission.
Mr. Epstein asked the Senate Ethic’s Committee to investigate whether Mr. Mellow has a conflict of interest by serving on the boards of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, its for-profit subsidiary, AllOne Health Group, and Penseco Financial Services Corp.
Mr. Epstein said, “The Committee’s delaying tactics are reprehensible and represent why so many voters have lost faith in a broken system. The Senate simply can not be trusted to police itself.” Epstein added, “The Committee is hiding behind a veil of privilege. The Committee’s response is prejudiced by the participation of Senator Musto who is under federal investigation for similar alleged transgressions as Senator Mellow. “
Epstein’s February 1, 2010 request was in response to a defect the Committee identified in a similar request for an investigation he filed on November 18, 2008. The Senate Committee on Ethics and Official Conduct sent Mr. Epstein a letter on December 16, 2009, saying his complaint was dismissed because it didn’t adhere to a chamber rule requiring it specify what section of the legislative ethics code was being violated. The letter was sent on the last day of session for the Senate. The letter was sent following a meeting of Committee members of which no minutes exist.
Epstein’s February 1, 2010, filing cured the defect, yet the Committee refused to investigate Mr. Mellow. On September 29, 2010, the Committee sent him a one paragraph letter that read:
Please by advised that your complaint dated February 1, 2010 against Senator Robert J. Mellow was reviewed by the Senate Committee on Ethics and Official Conduct. Following that review, the committee concluded on September 27, 2010, by
a vote of 6-0 to stay further investigation pending the outcome of federal inquiries.
Mr. Epstein requested:
1) The Senate Ethics Committee convene to investigate the behavior and corporate affiliations of Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Mellow in regard to the timing, and his refusal to voluntary submit to an Ethics Commission investigation, relating to his appointment to the Board of the nonprofit Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania and his appointment to its for- profit subsidiary AllOne Health Group, and Mr. Mellow’s Penseco Financial Services Corporation/Old Forge Bank board seat.
2) Epstein suggested that the Committee introduce a Senate resolution admonishing Mr. Mellow modeled on Senate resolution No. 165 Session of 1994 where Mr. Mellow was “admonished” for an “ethical matter” relating to the misappropriation of $417,692 in Democratic Caucus Funds.
3) Epstein asked the Committee to refer the investigation to appropriate civil, regulatory agencies and law enforcement agencies if deemed appropriate; and,
4) Mr. Epstein also requested that the Senate Ethics Committee identify the “federal inquires” in question, and respond to the enclosed data requests
within 20 calendar days of receipt.
1) Please define and clarify which federal inquires the Committee is referring to, i.e., “Following that review, the committee concluded on September 27, 2010, by a vote of 6-0 to stay further investigation pending the outcome of federal inquiries.”
2) Please provide documentation, i.e., statute, legislation or precedent, that precludes the Senate of Pennsylvania from enforcing its own rules while an unrelated and external investigation is pending.
3) Please provide the Committee’s legal opinion that allows the Senate of Pennsylvania to refrain from enforcing its own rules while an unrelated and external investigation is pending.
4) Please provide the Committee’s justification for allowing Sen. Raphael Musto, who is the subject of similar “federal inquiry” , to vote on a matter that is potentially a conflict of interest.
5) Please define and clarify the term “stay,” and quantify the time clock applied this term.
6) Please define and clarify the term “outcome”.
7) Please provide minutes from the Committee’s meeting convened on September 27, 2010.
RocktheCapital Co-founder Eric Epstein has been calling for an investigation of former state Sen. Mellow for over five years.
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