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Taxpayers foot bill for Pennsylvania politician’s car wrecks

August 16, 2018

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Pennsylvania state representative has had three car accidents in three years — with repairs and insurance claims covered by state taxpayers, records show.

Rep. Margo Davidson, a Democrat who represents Delaware County, has a total bill for repairs and claims exceeding $30,000 from crashes involving two state-owned vehicles, according to records obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer through a right-to-know request. Those costs mounted under a state program allowing General Assembly members to lease state-owned and -insured vehicles for up to $628 a month, the Inquirer reported .

Davidson declined to discuss specific accidents, settlements or repairs of state vehicles she operated, but in a statement downplayed her driving record. She said her state-funded repair costs “are not out of the ordinary when someone is involved in an accident.”

One of the most recent accidents involved Davidson driving a state-owned vehicle with a suspended license.

In January this year, she was driving on Interstate 476 when she rear-ended a car with a state-owned 2017 Jeep Cherokee. She was found guilty in May of driving without a license and failing to notify police of the accident, and she paid $149.50 in fines.

Davidson was first elected in 2010 and staged an unsuccessful bid for Congress this year.

Republican state Rep. Brad Roae, of Crawford County, said the state leasing program has poor oversight and introduced a bill last year to end the practice of providing state cars to members of the General Assembly.

“I don’t even want to say it’s loosely controlled, because it’s not controlled at all,” Roae said.

Roae’s bill to end the state car program for legislators cleared the state government committee in May but has yet to come up for a vote before the full House.

Only 27 representatives in the 203-member House currently use the state vehicle program, and all are Democratic politicians. Twenty of them are from the Philadelphia area.

Roae said he believes drivers like Davidson represent a “huge liability” to taxpayers if they are involved in a serious accident.

Republican Rep. Jerry Knowles, who voted for Roae’s bill in committee, said Davidson’s accidents highlight a lack of oversight in the state car program.

“I am baffled,” said Knowles, of Schuylkill County, “by the fact there is not a better process in place to deal with people who have their licenses suspended or who have not-real-good driving records.”

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com

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