Brand-new PA House member faces AG investigation

By Rachel Martin | Watchdog.org

PITTSBURGH — Jason Ortitay cruised to an easy victory Tuesday, winning his new place in Pennsylvania’s 46th House District by a margin of 12 percent. But that may not be the end of the story for this race.

The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General confirmed Monday it has received a complaint that originated in Washington County.

READY TO SERVE: But the state attorney general’s office may soon be ready to investigate allegations of electoral fraud by just-elected Jason Ortitay.

Eugene Vittone, Washington County district attorney, confirmed to Watchdog.org that he referred it to the AG’s office “the day I read the complaint.” He refused to comment, however, on whether he did so because he donated to Ortitay’s campaign.

“I don’t need to get into my rationale.”

The investigation was first noted by the blog Marcellus Monitor.

The complaint appears to center on a voter registration form Ortitay filled out Oct. 7, 2013.

The complaint contends that, with this registration, Ortitay violated section 1703 of the elections law.

That section makes it illegal to “Declare as residence a place or address which the individual knows is not the individual’s legal residence.”

It is apparently alleged Ortitay did not, in fact, live at this address, that of his girlfriend, at the time.

Photo courtesy of Marcellus Monitor.

LAST-MINUTE: This is the voter registration form at issue. It is alleged that Ortitay did not live at this address and may not have been eligible to run in that district.

According to the Marcellus Monitor, the timing is apparently an issue because Oct. 7 would have been the last day he could become a resident of the district and be eligible to run for the 46th District seat.

According to documents obtained by the Marcellus Monitor, he had a lease in Pittsburgh — not in the district — at that time. Ortitay did, however, sign a lease for an apartment that was within the district the day after he filled out this form.

J.J. Abbott, spokesman for the AG’s office, said the complaint is still under review and is not yet “investigating.” If the office decides it has jurisdiction and accepts the referral, an attorney would be assigned.

Abbott declined to confirm whether Vittone had referred it because of a perceived conflict: “That would be up to him, to disclose.”

Abbott also declined to comment on the allegations or provide a copy of the complaint.

Ortitay could not be reached for comment.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

Top