By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The local political watchdog group “Committee of 70” is calling on state officials to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the growing controversy over the Pennsylvania attorney general’s decision to stop a sting operation that targeted lawmakers.

Ellen Kaplan of the Committee of 70 says the matter of the quashed sting (see related story) needs to be investigated, and a public accounting needs to be made.

And given that Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane is at the heart of the matter, Kaplan says, the state legislature should name its own investigator.

“There ought to be an independent counsel to conduct a fair, nonpartisan investigation into the integrity of the sting operation and also its dismissal, because both of them are under attack,” Kaplan tells KYW Newsradio.  “And the public needs to know what happened in this case, and to have a review done by someone who doesn’t have any personal or political interest in the outcome.”

Kaplan says the list of specific issues in this matter that warrant attention is long:

“The outright dismissal of serious fraud charges against the informant; the apparent acceptance of cash, and in one case an expensive bracelet; the possibility of entrapment; the failure to report the cash and bracelets; and there are also allegations about the possibility of selective targeting of African-American legislators in the sting operation.  And that needs to be looked at as well.”

In the sting operation, several Philadelphia area lawmakers were reportedly caught on tape accepting payments.  Yesterday, Kane said the operation was fatally flawed because the informant lacked credibility, and because the probe was aimed only at black legislators (see related story).



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