Criminal probe #2 in the 7th District

This is the third election I’ve covered in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District. Two of them featured active criminal investigations leading up to Election Day.

In 2006, the FBI was looking at then-Congressman Curt Weldon (and apparently listening in to some of my phone calls with wiretaps). This year, the race for outgoing Congressman Joe Sestak’s seat is not only on the radar of the DCCC and NRCC (and C-SPAN), but the state Attorney General’s office, too.

Jim Schneller
Jim Schneller

AG agents have been investigating forgeries on Republican Pat Meehan’s nominating petitions since April. Now, they’re also sifting through signatures submitted by Jim Schneller, the ultra-conservative independent candidate that Democrat Bryan Lentz’s supporters helped place on the congressional ballot.

Meanwhile, Schneller, who is likely to siphon votes from Meehan in what could be a close race, is suing state Attorney General Tom Corbett. He wants Corbett to wrap up the Meehan investigation. Schneller, who has questioned President Obama’s citizenship, has a history of filing bizarre lawsuits, including one accusing hospital staff of “murder in the first degree” for the death of his mother.

Then there is the question of whether Corbett, the Republican candidate for governor, can even conduct an impartial investigation in the Delaware County-based district when he needs the Delco GOP to work for him in November.

You getting all this?

AG spokesman Nils Frederiksen said this afternoon that the Meehan and Schneller investigations are active, but declined to comment on whether any charges might be filed before Election Day. The Meehan probe started about five months ago; the Schneller investigation is less than a week old.

“With any investigation, we follow the facts, but I’m not going to forecast or predict anything,” regarding charging decisions, Frederiksen said.