Political work major part of her job with Orie, woman says

March 7, 2012 1:19 pm

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A woman who worked for state Sen. Jane Orie in her North Hills district office for less than a year testified this morning she spent a substantial part of her time doing political work.

Michele Lantz, who was tasked in early 2002 with organizing the McCandless Republican's fundraiser in Butler County, said her Army reservist husband was being deployed then, and that would leave her as a single mom to her 10-year-old daughter.

Ms. Lantz estimated that 30 to 40 percent of her time working for the senator was spent doing political work, including stuffing envelopes, making phone calls, preparing invitations and making fundraising databases.

"Every day, you would go to work at 9 a.m., and you never knew when you'd get to go home," Ms. Lantz testified.

In July of 2002, Ms. Lantz said she went to the senator and asked if -- outside of legislative events in the evenings -- she would be permitted to leave at 4:30 p.m. each day so as not to task her mother and mother-in-law with the care of her daughter.

"The senator told me 'no,'" Ms. Lantz testified. "She would be setting a precedent for the other employees in the office."

Ms. Orie is on trial for theft of services, ethics violations, perjury and forgery. She is accused of using legislative staffers to campaign for her and her sister, state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and of forging documents presented in her first trial last year.

The prosecution has called 13 witnesses, and the case continues this afternoon.

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.
First Published 2012-03-07 12:19:34

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