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Spotlight on public officials accused of corruption

Allegations of impropriety by Pennsylvania government officials are on the rise, according to reports. Due to the notoriety and public scrutiny of individuals facing these charges, the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty is a difficult one to fight for, particularly in the court of public opinion.

Historically, Pennsylvania has had more cases of high-profile public corruption charges than most other states. It is an issue that continues to remain in the spotlight because of its persistent publicizing by investigators and prosecutors.

For example, a recent case of such impropriety involves former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a woman determined to penetrate the Republican, male-dominated political arena. Kane, a Democrat who came from humble beginnings with virtually no political experience, succeeded in being elected to office in 2013. Her case involving charges of perjury, obstruction and conspiracy, has recently been a widespread news topic, adding to the already regrettable reputation of Pennsylvania as one of the most corrupt states.

Pennsylvania prosecutors believe that, whether by enactment of new laws or revision of ones on the books, stringent enforcement against public officials is part of the solution to overcoming the state's reputation of corruption. Current Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, in particular, has been vocal about seeking out alleged offenders and holding them accountable.

Because of the spotlight being put on this hot button issue, it is important for civil servants facing charges of public corruption to be prepared for the legal battle that lies ahead. Against the backdrop of increased public scrutiny and enforcement, an aggressive defense will need to be prepared in order to ensure the rights of the accused are respected.

Source: PennLive.com, "Have bribery, fraud and abuse of power become synonymous with 'Pennsylvania?" Jan Murphy, March 30, 2017

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