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Politics & Government

Pennsylvania State Lawmaker From Delaware County Charged With Theft After Years-Long Investigation

State Rep. Margo L. Davidson.jpeg
Alejandro A. Alvarez | Philadelphia Inquirer
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Rep. Margo Davidson.

A Delaware County state lawmaker has been charged with theft and other crimes following a years-long investigation into allegations that she misused campaign and taxpayer funds when seeking reimbursement for expenses.

The charges by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General against State Rep. Margo L. Davidson, a Democrat serving Upper Darby and the surrounding communities, revolve around expense reimbursements she received between 2015 and 2019.

Prosecutors said Davidson allegedly requested overnight reimbursements for time she did not actually spend in Harrisburg. Those reimbursements, known as per diems, are given to most Pennsylvania legislators when they travel to the Capitol from their home districts.

The attorney general’s office also said Davidson was personally reimbursed by taxpayers for expenses that had actually been paid for by her campaign.

Davidson could not immediately be reached for comment.

But appearing before a judge in Harrisburg on Thursday, Davidson said she intends to resign her position, according to PennLive.

Davidson, 58, became the first Black woman elected to the state House from Delaware County more than a decade ago and the first Democrat to win the 164th District seat in 40 years.

She took over the seat held by Republican Mario Civera, the incumbent since 1980. Her ascendance became the first indication of what would become a major political shift in the historically deep-red Delaware County. Ten years later, the former Republican stronghold is now governed by an all-Democrat county council.

A West Philadelphia native, Davidson’s tenure in the state House has been marked with some controversy. In 2018, she drew headlines for being arrested twice in 12 days for driving and crashing a taxpayer-funded car while her license was suspended. She asserted that she didn’t know her license was suspended until State Police troopers notified her at the site of the second crash. Davidson later pleaded guilty to the charges, which were all summary offenses.

As a legislator, some of her policies have garnered similar attention. Her early-on votes for increased restrictions on abortion clinics and school vouchers raised eyebrows in Democratic circles and saw her later opponents for reelection cast her as being against progressive values.

She defended her abortion voting record by pointing to her personal life — her cousin was killed in the clinic run by Kermit Gosnell — and she has held tightly to her seat. Her name was whispered in some circles ahead of the 2014 state gubernatorial election as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor, though that bid never came to fruition.

Davidson did throw her hat into the 2018 race for the then-newly created 5th Congressional District, but she mustered a scant 2,000 votes in the primary won by Mary Gay Scanlon.
90.5 WESA partners with Spotlight PA, a collaborative, reader-funded newsroom producing accountability journalism for all of Pennsylvania. More at spotlightpa.org.