Did Supreme Court Justice-elect use tax dollars to campaign?

Attorney General Tom Corbett isn't the only one investigating pols for corruption in Pennsylvania. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala has opened a grand jury investigation into Supreme Court Justice-elect Joan Orie-Melvin.

Orie-Melvin is the sister of Senate Majority Whip Jane Orie. Zappala's investigation centers around her alleged use of state offices for campaign work. An intern apparently tipped prosecutors off.

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Joan Orie-Melvin was elected to the Pa. Supreme Court

The day before the election, an intern from the University of Pittsburgh working at Orie's McCandless office went to Zappala's office to allege campaign work occurred there for Melvin. Authorities haven't released the intern's identity or the exact nature of the allegations. But agents for Zappala and state police raided Orie's office Dec. 11 and seized computer hard drives. They have questioned Orie's chief of staff.

Orie co-chaired her sister's campaign, according to a September fundraising letter the Tribune-Review obtained. Orie signed the letter seeking donations to Melvin's campaign, and included her title as majority whip.

The Orie camp is denying all charges and attributing the investigation to partisan politics.

In terms of directed activity, it's nonexistent," said her attorney, Jerry McDevitt. "That's just not going to be found. We believe this is a politically inspired investigation."

We'll keep you posted on all the latest developments. For more, please check out our special section on reform in Harrisburg.

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