Treasurer: I'll plead guilty

Caught up in campaign scandal, McCord quits

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State Treasurer Rob McCord finished a distant third in last year's Democratic primary for governor.

PENNSYLVANIA Treasurer Rob McCord said he will plead guilty to federal charges that involve him telling two potential campaign contributors during last year's gubernatorial primary race that he could make it difficult for them to continue to do business with the state.

McCord, 55, also said he is resigning immediately in a video released yesterday by his lawyer. In it, the Democrat apologized and said he accepts responsibility for his actions.

"I stepped over the line by trying to take advantage of the fact that two potential contributors hoped to continue to do business with the commonwealth and by developing talking points to remind them that I could make things difficult for them," McCord said in the 2 1/2-minute video. "I essentially said that the potential contributors should not risk making an enemy of the state treasurer. Clearly that was wrong, I was wrong. It was a mistake. I stand ready to pay the price for that mistake."

McCord's lawyers, Robert Welsh and Catherine Recker, said McCord will plead guilty to certain federal charges, but they would not specify which charges those would be, when they will be filed or whether McCord will face jail time. The charges stem from the incident that happened last spring, they said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg declined to comment.

In a surprise, McCord, a former venture capitalist, had announced Thursday that he would step down Feb. 12, after nearly six years in the office. He gave no reason for leaving his post, saying only that it was time for him to return to the private sector. It soon emerged that McCord was under scrutiny by federal investigators.

Yesterday, McCord said he had not expected word of the investigation to emerge until after Feb. 12, and as a result, said he would resign immediately to avoid hurting the department by staying there for two more weeks.

"I'm now deeply concerned that my continuing in office even for a day might interfere with the operation of the office of the treasurer," he said.

McCord was elected in 2008 and 2012 to four-year terms in the Treasurer's office and ran unsuccessfully for governor last year, losing in an expensive and bruising primary to Gov. Wolf.

He came in third in a four-person race after raising and spending nearly $9 million. He contributed $2.2 million of his own money to the cause, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state. Wolf won after spending nearly $15 million in the primary, including $10 million from his own wallet.

In his last campaign finance report filed with the state, McCord listed a campaign debt of $2.2 million to himself.

The Treasury Department's chief counsel, Christopher Craig, was sworn in yesterday as executive deputy state treasurer, replacing McCord. It is now up to Wolf to nominate someone to serve the final two years of McCord's term.

In a statement yesterday, Wolf called it a "sad day" for the state and McCord's family and said he would act quickly to send a nominee to the Senate for confirmation.