HARRISBURG ‚?? The state Ethics Commission has issued an order regarding a complaint first filed in 2009 by a government watchdog against then-state Sen. Bob Mellow.
That order, sent to Mellow on Monday, has not been made public.
John J. Contino, the executive director of the commission, said he could neither confirm nor deny any such complaint was filed or that an order was issued. He said that, in general, the commission makes reports public only after it has completely winded its way through the process.
At this point, Contino said, ‚??there is no publicly available order.‚?Ě
If an order was issued, he said the respondent, in this case Mellow, would have 30 days to request reconsideration on the findings. Then the commission would entertain that request; and, if a final order is issued, it would be made public.
Gene Stilp, a Luzerne County native who is running for Congress, said he filed a complaint with the commission, among other entities, regarded a matter Stilp and others felt was unethical.
He said he believes the complaint referenced by the order is in regard to his, although it was not clear Wednesday if that was the case.
At issue was a rental agreement that Mellow had for his Peckville district office with building owner Brad Inc., in which Mellow or his now ex-wife, Diane, had a 50 percent interest. Payment to oneself is a violation of state ethics laws but is not in violation of a Senate rule that allows similar arrangements as long as there is an independent appraisal of the cost.
Mellow, 70, of Peckville, represented the 22nd Senatorial District, which serves all of Lackawanna and Monroe counties and the boroughs of Avoca, Dupont and Duryea in Luzerne County, for 40 years before retiring in 2010.
Last month, Mellow signed paperwork agreeing to plead guilty to two federal corruption charges. He is scheduled to formally enter a plea in Philadelphia on April 27 and he faces up to five years in prison.
Another complaint filed with the Ethics Commission, by Eric Epstein, cofounder of Rock the Capital, regarded Mellow‚??s paid positions on the boards of directors of both Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania and Penseco Financial Services. There has been no movement, at least publicly, on that matter.
Requests were filed on that issue with the Senate Ethics Commission, the state Attorney General‚??s Office and the state Ethics Commission.
‚??It is our hope that the state Ethics Commission will restore integrity to this investigation and find that Mr. Mellow abused his position of power for personal gain. Justice can only be served if Mr. Mellow is stripped of his pension,‚?Ě Epstein said.