Friday, July 11, 2014

Aide to ex-senator testifies she campaigned for Melvin

February 20. 2013 4:21AM
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PITTSBURGH — A former state Senate staffer testified Wednesday that she did campaign work for state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin because her boss – the justice's jailed ex-lawmaker sister – wanted it done.

Barbara Brown, one of former Sen. Jane Orie's Harrisburg staffers, testified she sometimes worked entire days on Melvin's 2003 run for a seat on the state's highest court, even though she was on the Senate payroll.

Brown said she was particularly worried after attending one campaign event with Melvin at the Harrisburg Hilton in 2003 when she ran into Melvin's opponent, Max Baer.

I was concerned. The rules were you do not do political work on state time, but the boss wanted it done, Brown said, referring to then-Sen. Orie.

Melvin, 56, and her sister and aide, Janine, 58, of Pittsburgh's North Hills suburbs, are on trial in Allegheny County charged with misusing Melvin's former Superior Court staff and that of former Sen. Orie to do campaign work on state-paid time, in their state-funded and equipped offices.

The former senator is serving 2½ to 10 years in prison and resigned from office after being convicted last year of illegally using her own state-funded staff and office for campaign purposes. She was acquitted, however, of charges that she ordered her staff to do work on Melvin's campaigns, too.

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