HARRISBURG -- Former state Treasurer Rob McCord told jurors Friday that he secretly recorded at least two other people -- including major campaign donor and Pennsylvania State University trustee Al Lord -- while cooperating with the FBI.
Facing cross-examination from the lawyer for another person he recorded, a Chester County businessman accused of trying to bribe him, McCord said he also could be called to testify in a future case.
He didn't specify which one, but acknowledged setting up calls and letting agents guide his conversations after being confronted with evidence that he had tried to extort campaign donations.
"The FBI wanted you to incriminate people?" defense lawyer Reid Weingarten asked him.
"I was asked to use language … that I did not think that I would normally use," McCord replied.
The exchange occurred as McCord took the stand for a third day in the federal trial of Richard Ireland, the businessman and former donor charged with trying to secretly funnel $500,000 in contributions to McCord's failed 2014 gubernatorial campaign in return for help landing state contracts.
McCord, a longtime Democrat from Montgomery County, abruptly resigned and pleaded guilty to extortion in 2015, about two months after agents first enlisted him as a cooperating witness.
The full list of people he recorded, as well as why and when, remains a mystery.
Pressed by the defense lawyer, McCord also said agents recorded his talks with a Northeastern Pennsylvania businessman, but prosecutors blocked him from naming the man during the testimony. Still, Weingarten dropped a few hints, saying the businessman was a former addict and alcoholic, and was rumored to have ties to organized crime.
It wasn't clear when or why McCord recorded Lord, a Republican, prolific political donor, and former chief of lender Sallie Mae. Jurors at Ireland's trial have heard recordings secretly made by McCord in November and December 2014.
McCord said both he and Lord had supported embattled former Penn State president Graham B. Spanier, who has been fighting charges of covering up football coach Jerry Sandusky's sex abuse.
McCord testified that Lord was looking to support a Democrat in the gubernatorial primary who was in the best position to "shaft Tom Corbett," the incumbent governor, who had been attorney general when investigators built their case against Sandusky, Spanier, and two other Penn State administrators.
McCord recounted a conversation in which he said Lord proposed that McCord help him win appointment to Penn State's board of trustees. McCord said he thought that would look bad, especially if Lord was a major campaign donor.
"I said, 'Don't be an idiot -- you have to run for that independently,' " he testified.
It was unclear why Weingarten asked about Lord, who now lives in Florida. Lord also emerged as a key but uncharged player in the corruption trial of former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah ( D., Pa.). He was granted immunity to testify about a $1 million loan he gave Fattah for his 2007 mayoral campaign.
Penn State alumni voted Lord onto the trustees board in spring 2014, and he has been among its most vocal members.
Reached Friday by phone, Lord said he was not aware that McCord had recorded him, nor why he would have. He said that he gave about $500,000 to support McCord's campaign, but that the money was not to get a seat on Penn State's board, which he got on his own.
"I was supporting him because I wanted a governor who would take a better look at what was going on at Penn State," he said. "I wanted Corbett to lose, for sure, and he managed to do that without McCord's help."
He said that in retrospect, his support of McCord was "a mistake," that McCord's political positions were not well-thought-out.
Lord also disputed McCord's account that McCord called him an idiot. "He never talked to me that way," Lord said.
With years of political experience, McCord testified, he knew how to talk to potential donors: Identify what they want, and then ask them for money.
His flaw, he conceded, was, "I went too far, time and time again."
That was, McCord said, what plunged him into legal trouble when the FBI was secretly listening in on his telephone conversations in the spring of 2014.
It remains unclear why the FBI began investigating McCord. But in his testimony Friday, McCord acknowledged for the first time that John Estey, the onetime chief of staff to former Gov. Rendell, who was caught in a 2011 FBI corruption sting, had "worn a wire on me."
The Inquirer has reported that Estey, who has pleaded guilty to wire fraud, had been secretly cooperating with federal investigators, possibly for years.
Throughout Friday's questioning, McCord described the unsavory nature of political fund-raising.
"You have to lie down, in a sense, with anybody in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to get things done, is my sense," he told the jury.
McCord testified that during one of his fund-raising solicitations, he tried to raise campaign cash from a businessman who had interests in waste disposal. The businessman, whom he identified as Billy Rinaldi, said he would consider contributing but wanted a say in choosing the state's new secretary for environmental protection should McCord become governor.
Rinaldi could not be reached Friday. He did not respond to messages left at his business, and a home phone number could not be found.
Staff writer Susan Snyder contributed to this article.