PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Going on television camera for the first time since acknowledging he posted negative comments online under other people’s names, Pa. Rep. Jesse White, a Cecil Democrat, was blunt.
“I made an error in judgment. I did, and I deeply regret that,” White told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Wednesday afternoon.
A passionate legislator who has been outspoken on Marcellus Shale drilling issues, White says it all took a toll.
“If it didn’t take a toll on you, then you didn’t learn a lesson. It definitely did,” said White.
“It’s forced me to reevaluate the way I handle different challenges in my job and in my life,” added the state representative.
White credits Harvard University’s Kennedy School — which he attended in July after the Internet stories broke — with helping him confront his issues head-on.
“Right before classes were set to begin, I was pulled aside by a member of the faculty and I was told that someone had emailed the entire faculty of the Kennedy School a bunch of information about what had happened,” he said.
White was told he could withdraw or understand he could be asked in class about the matter. White chose to stay and raise it himself in the first class.
White: “I raised my hand and said, I have a story.”
Delano: “You made a public confession in front of all these elected officials?”
White: “Seventy-nine elected officials who I hadn’t known for more than a day. And I basically bared my soul and said what had happened.”
With the help of classmates and faculty, White says he now understands, “When I have something important enough to say, I need to say it in my own voice, in my position as a state legislator, and take responsibility fully for what is being said.”
White is not up for reelection until next year, but already he’s attracted a Democratic challenger.
Whether his public apology coupled with his strong views on Marcellus Shale suffice for his constituents won’t be known until 2014.