Bucks County Commissioner Chairperson Bob Harvie said late this week that he is not the target of a federal investigation.
Last September, LevittownNow.com broke the news that Harvie, the former longtime chairman of the Falls Township Board of Supervisors, and several other Falls Township officials testified before a grand jury in Philadelphia as part of a long-running probe.
Harvie, who is running for re-election this November, made the comments after mailers by his Republican opponents mentioned the investigation, citing articles from this news organization and Broad + Liberty, which is described in nonprofit filings as a “digital media enterprise and public policy think tank.”
“In light of recent attacks against my character by my Republican opponents, I want to set the record straight. I am not now and never have been the target of any criminal investigation,” Harvie said.
He later added: “It is a sad reflection of our politics that such categorically false statements would be made simply to gain the upper hand in a campaign for office.”
Harvie didn’t speak further on the investigation or questions he was asked by the grand jury. His comments were his first public statements speaking on the probe.
Sources close to the probe have told NewHopeFreePress.com over the past year that they had not seen evidence Harvie was the target of the investigation, which has stretched several years. The investigation has involved several agencies, including the FBI, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police, and Bucks County Detectives.
No charges have been filed, no indictments handed down, and no accusations of wrongdoing have been made public by authorities as of Friday.
Federal law enforcement and prosecutors, as policy, do not comment about ongoing investigations. Amid a grand jury, they are unable to break grand jury secrecy to comment.
Being called to testify before a grand jury does not confirm any involvement of potential crimes and is part of the investigative process in the federal system.
In July 2020, LevittownNow.com broke the news FBI special agents, state, and county authorities interviewed several people close to Falls Township and the Pennsbury School District. Several people said investigators asked them about matters related to local government and politics, unions, contractors, political donations, and problems in the Pennsbury School District. The investigation also has apparent ties to Montgomery County.
The campaign mailer from Republican Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo and Bucks County Controller Pamela Van Blunk arrived at homes on Friday and Saturday. It stated Harvie was “wrapped up in an FBI investigation.”
“It is very sad and disturbing that it has taken Commissioner Harvie this long to tell the voters of Bucks County about his role in a federal political corruption investigation in Falls Township,” said Anthony Pontarelli, a spokesperson for the Republican candidates.
Pontarelli added: “It is also interesting that Commissioner Harvie has been forced to do so by a campaign mailer during a closely watched election in which his job is in jeopardy.”
Pontarelli told NewtownPANow.com that “the voters of Bucks County deserve full and clear transparency on Commissioner Harvie’s involvement in a Federal political corruption investigation.”
Sources said DiGirolamo had relayed to more than one person that the content of the campaign mailer against Harvie upset him.
The Republican campaign and DiGirolamo did not comment on that.
The commissioners’ race is believed by political watchers to be close and is being looked at nationally due to Bucks County’s swing county status.
Below is Harvie’s full statement:
“In light of recent attacks against my character by my Republican opponents I want to set the record straight. I am not now and never have been the target of any criminal investigation.
“I am a steadfast supporter of law enforcement and am proud to be endorsed for re-election by the largest Fraternal Order of Police in Pennsylvania.
“It is a sad reflection of our politics that such categorically false statements would be made simply to gain the upper hand in a campaign for office. I was born and raised in this community and served it as a public school teacher for 20 years.
“Since I was elected in 2019 I have been deeply committed to bringing our community together, not divide it and that will continue to be my mission as long as I have the honor to serve as your County Commissioner.”
Below is the Republican campaign’s full statement:
“It is very sad and disturbing that it has taken Commissioner Harvie this long to tell the voters of Bucks County about his role in a Federal political corruption investigation in Falls Township.
“It is also interesting that Commissioner Harvie has been forced to do so by a campaign mailer during a closely watched election in which his job is in jeopardy.
“While Commissioner Harvie might want to dismiss this matter quietly with a statement saying he is not a ‘target’ of the investigation, the voters of Bucks County deserve full and clear transparency on Commissioner Harvie’s involvement in a Federal political corruption investigation.
“Is Commissioner Harvie a cooperating witness? Was Commissioner Harvie granted immunity for his testimony? Perhaps even more important, does Commissioner deny any involvement in any of the political corruption?
“Despite numerous media reports on this Federal investigation and his cooperation in testifying, Commissioner Harvie has remained silent and failed to explain to the voters of Bucks County the simple question as to why our sitting County Commissioner testified in a Federal Grand Jury.
“When the sitting Chairman of the Bucks County Board of Commissioners testifies in front of Federal Grand Jury regarding political corruption, the voters of Bucks County are entitled to know a little more than “I am not the target.”
“The voters of Bucks County can rest assured that his opponents, Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo and Controller Pam Van Blunk, never testified in front of Federal Grand Jury regarding political corruption. Additionally, their actions while in office have never been called into question.
“Unfortunately and sadly for the voters of Bucks County, the same cannot be said about their current Commissioner – Bob Harvie.”