HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – Pennsylvania state Treasurer Rob McCord said Friday that he is resigning, effective immediately, and is planning to plead guilty to federal charges that involve him telling two potential campaign contributors during last year’s gubernatorial primary that he could make it difficult for them to continue to do business with the state.
McCord, a 55-year old Democrat serving his second term as treasurer, made the statement in a video. In it, he apologized.
“I stepped over the line by trying to take advantage of the fact that two potential contributors hoped to continue to do business with the commonwealth and by developing talking points to remind them that I could make things difficult for them,” McCord said.
In the unprecedented, two-and-a-half minute video statement released in Philadelphia by his lawyers, McCord went on to say: “I essentially said that the potential contributors should not risk making an enemy of the state treasurer. Clearly, that was wrong, I was wrong. It was a mistake. I stand ready to pay the price for that mistake.”
McCord is seen in the video sitting at a desk, looking directly at the camera.
In a written statement, McCord’s lawyer Bob Welsh said McCord will plead guilty to certain federal charges. He said the charges stem from the incident that happened last spring.
McCord also said he would plead guilty to federal charges related to how he solicited campaign donations in 2013 from two companies.
In a surprise, McCord, a former venture capitalist, had announced Thursday that he would step down Feb. 12, after nearly six years in the office. He gave no reason for leaving his post, saying only that it was time for him to return to the private sector.
It soon emerged that McCord was under scrutiny by federal investigators.
On Friday, McCord said he had not expected word of the investigation to emerge until after Feb. 12, and as a result, said he would resign immediately to avoid hurting the department by staying there for two more weeks.
Gov. Tom Wolf has released this statement on the resignation:
“This is a sad day for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and for Rob McCord’s family. As elected leaders we should be stewards of democracy and we should act to protect hardworking taxpayers, not take advantage of them. This type of behavior leads to the erosion of the public’s trust – it is simply unacceptable. I stand firm in my commitment to restore the public’s trust in their government. Therefore, I will act as quickly as possible to present a nominee to the Senate of the highest caliber and capability.”
Former U.S. Attorney J. Alan Johnson of Pittsburgh , who served as U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania from 1981 to 1989, told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti that he thought it was a good move by McCord’s lawyers “to get out in front of it. Have him [McCord] accept responsibility, and then accept whatever penalty there is.”
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