Orie staffer says she spent half her time on campaign work

March 5, 2012 1:56 pm

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A staffer for state Sen. Jane Orie testified this morning that during peak political seasons, more than 50 percent of her workday was spent doing campaign work.

Christine Bahr, who retired from the senator's North Hills office in 2005, said the majority of the political work she did included writing thank-you notes for donations and making phone calls pretending to be Ms. Orie, R-McCandless.

"It was an unrealistic workload. Trying to get everything accomplished was almost humanly impossible," Ms. Bahr said. "Something had to give, and generally the political work came first."

Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus spent several minutes going after a number of thank-you notes Ms. Bahr wrote to a number of political donors and to people who served on Ms. Orie's host committee for campaign events.

Ms. Bahr said she had concerns about doing political work, but that she never complained about it.

"I figured that I would lose my job," she said. "Because, as much as I liked the senator, I knew it wouldn't take much, I'd be out the door."

Ms. Bahr will resume testimony this afternoon on cross-examination by defense attorney William Costopoulos.

Ms. Orie is charged with 26 counts, accused of using her legislative staff and resources to campaign for both herself and her sister, now state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. She also is charged with perjury and forgery stemming from her first trial last year, which ended in a mistrial after prosecutors accused her of submitting altered documents to the court.

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.
First Published 2012-03-05 12:57:06

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