The disclosure of a state Ethics Commission inquiry this week is yet another hopeful sign that four Philadelphia legislators will finally be held accountable, if allegations prove true that they accepted cash offered as bribes during an undercover investigation that state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane shut down upon taking office.
The ethics panel review comes on the heels of a welcome decision by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams to put the sting allegations before an investigative grand jury.
While similar to an investigation begun in March by the state House Committee on Ethics, the Ethics Commission's standing as an independent agency - even with powers limited to levying fines and the option of referring findings of criminal conduct to state prosecutors - holds out the better prospect of a thorough vetting of the lawmakers' conduct.
For the state House members who were caught up in the sting - Ron Waters, Vanessa Brown, Michelle Brownlee, and Louise Bishop, along with former Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes - there is probably no getting away from the glare of the three inquiries. Nor should there be.
Given the appropriate public outcry after The Inquirer revealed the existence of the sting - in which Philadelphia lobbyist Tyron B. Ali worked undercover for state prosecutors - there should be full disclosure of the events surrounding the sting, Kane's decision to pull the plug on grounds that she believed the operation had been mishandled, and elected officials' actions in failing to report any cash and gifts they received.