The stunning indictments yesterday involving bonuses paid to Harrisburg staffers are the product of a legislature that doesn't feel accountable to anyone.

Attorney General Tom Corbett announced the wave of charges against 12 defendants after a 17-month investigation. It's the story of a crowd that didn't learn much of anything from the pay-raise scandal of 2005.

The defendants include Rep. Sean Ramaley (D., Beaver); former Rep. Mike Veon, the top lieutenant of House Democratic leader Bill DeWeese (D., Greene); and Michael Manzo, DeWeese's former chief of staff. The charges allege that Veon, Manzo and others cooked up a scheme to use tax dollars to reward Democratic staffers for working on election campaigns, which is illegal.

One House staffer told the grand jury of getting a bonus to work on a special election for a Democrat in Allentown. But rather than distribute campaign literature, the staffer and two others went fishing and still got paid bonuses.

The indictments allege that House Democrats doled out $1.9 million in bonuses to 717 aides in 2006 - far more than the other caucuses. Senate Democrats awarded $38,000 to 12 staffers.

Meanwhile, the GOP gave $270,000 to 45 House aides and $180,000 to 16 Senate workers. No Republicans were charged, but it remains questionable that all of the GOP bonuses were legitimate.

What's clear is that the House Democrats brought these charges on themselves. Their bonuses more than quadrupled from the previous nonelection year. It just so happens that House Democrats regained the majority in 2006, after 12 years in the minority.

Republican Corbett said more charges are to come. He should pursue this investigation to the ends of the commonwealth. Sadly, it is needed to shake some sense into a legislature that too often focuses on protecting incumbents.

DeWeese, who was not charged, has said he didn't know the extent of the bonuses. Last November DeWeese fired seven top Democratic aides, including Manzo, based on information that DeWeese turned over to Corbett.

The Democratic leader has been touting his efforts to clean house, but the fact remains that this alleged scheme occurred on his watch. He should have resigned already. The probe makes clear that House Democrats need a new leader to instill public integrity.

In all, a dozen people who worked in the legislature are now charged with theft, conspiracy, conflict of interest, and other offenses.

Perhaps this will force the legislature - which has refused to take up campaign spending limits or nonpartisan redistricting, or to part ways with its $200 million slush fund of taxpayer dollars - to clean up its act. But if legislators won't hold themselves accountable, the attorney general (and voters) must.