File this one under: "The cover-up is worse than the crime."
Actually, it's not a crime we have here, but a technical violation of the state House rules in Harrisburg. And maybe not even that, depending who you talk to.
Democratic state Rep. Bryan Lentz was called out today by Republican Pat Meehan, his opponent in Delaware County's bitter 7th Congressional District race, for repeatedly engaging in a mild form of "ghost voting," or voting on bills when you aren't in your seat on the House floor.
The Meehan campaign sent a spy to Harrisburg yesterday and claimed they observed two representatives casting votes for Lentz at least six times, and Lentz voting for another representative at least four times. House rules say that "no member shall vote for another member," but, in practice, proxy voting still happens, like when a member is in the restroom or talking with constituents during debate.
Lentz's congressional campaign manager Kevin McTigue initially insisted that the Meehan campaign's claim was an outright lie. He said Lentz didn't vote for anyone else yesteday and no one voted for Lentz.
"Their claim just doesn't hold water," McTigue said. "At this point, it's our word against a tracker's word."
Except, when confronted with the specific times of each of yesterday's votes, Lentz called from the back of the House floor to say that, yes, another member had voted for him and he had voted for another member. He said they were both in the building and each voted how the other would have voted if they were in their seat, so it's no big deal.
Paul Parsells, chief of staff for House Speaker Keith McCall, D-Carbon, says he doesn't interpret the House rules to mean that one representative is prohibited from voting for another if they're both present. He said he doesn't consider that "ghost voting."
"It's like someone answering your telephone because you're across the room," Parsells said. "If you're in Tahiti, that's ghost voting."
"In court, it would be called a technical violation," said Lentz, a former assistant district attorney in Philadelphia.