State Senator Jane Orie of Allegheny County stepped down from her post as Majority Whip earlier this week.
The Republican lawmaker from McCandless Township is the second lawmaker to lose a leadership role due to criminal charges within the last six months
Orie is facing theft, conspiracy and other charges for allegedly overseeing political work conducted within her district office for her sister, Joan Orie Melvin's successful campaign for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Her vacation of the Senate Republican Caucus’s number three post comes months after the House Majority Whip, Democrat Bill DeWeese, lost his position due to similar charges filed by the Attorney General’s office.
DeWeese’s move to the sidelines, along with the departure of former Democratic Whip Mike Veon, who was recently convicted for doing campaign work on state time, created a leadership vacuum in the House.
Political scientist Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College doesn’t see that happening in the Senate.
"The fact is, I don’t think that will have a huge impact on the Republicans and the policies they pursue. And the policies they’ll be pursing with or without Jane Orie will be to not vote for and to halt Governor Rendell’s billion-dollar budget increase for the next fiscal year."
Madonna says Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi and Senate President Pro Tem Joseph Scarnati are the ones who call all the shots in the Republican caucus. Both Pileggi and Scarnati are supporting Orie, saying they’re confident she’ll be exonerated on the charges she’s facing. Orie says when she's cleared, she intends to resume the post of majority whip.