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Philly Rep. Resigns ‘Under Protest,’ Continues Challenging Bribery Conviction

PA House of Representatives

An embattled State House Democrat convicted of accepting a bribe has resigned under pressure from legislative leaders.

But Philadelphia Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown noted the resignation comes “under protest” and said she’s still fighting what she deems an unfair verdict.

Brown was sentenced to 23 months of probation for taking a $4,000 bribe in an undercover sting.

She was one of six defendants in a case the judge called “troubling” with “racial overtones”—words she quoted in her resignation letter.

She said she’s stepping down only because, having been convicted of a crime, the state constitution says she’s ineligible to serve.

Neal Lesher, a spokesman for the Republican House Speaker, said they’re now planning next steps.

“The speaker intends to call a special election, however [the speaker] will not be able to do that until January when he is officially sworn in.” Lesher said. “Under the election code, a special election cannot occur until 60 days after that special election is called, so the earliest it could occur is March.”

The election is expected to be held in tandem with one to replace Lackawanna Democrat Sid Michaels Kavulich, who died in October while seeking another term.

In Brown’s ongoing challenge to her conviction, her lawyers are arguing she was entrapped, among other things.

She said she is “emboldened by the civil rights giants who have gone before” her, and added that she lives “to fight another day against injustice and racism.”