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Gibbons, White also call for DeWeese to quit

J.D. Prose, Times Staff Two area Democratic state legislators have joined a growing chorus calling for state House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese to resign in the wake of the Bonusgate scandal thats rocked the Democratic caucus. State Rep. Jaret Gibbons, D-10, Ellwood City, and state Rep. Jesse White, D-46, Cecil Township, Washington County, both have demanded in recent days that DeWeese, of Greene County, quit because the ongoing controversy has become a distraction and could hinder legislative work on real issues. I just think that in the end, he was the leader at that time, so there has to be some accountability, Gibbons said Thursday. To me, theres the tenable fear that if they continue as they are, we can be distracted from achieving a substantive agenda in the fall. Gibbons would not go as far as to say DeWeese should resign from the House. DeWeese is running for re-election, and Gibbons said his political future should rest in the hands of the voters in his district. White, whose district includes Frankfort Springs and Hanover Township in Beaver County, didnt respond to a message left at his district office Thursday, but in a statement released Wednesday, he said the scandal has severely limited the ability of legislators to act on important issues. While praising DeWeese for his legislative accomplishments over the last 32 years, White said he couldnt accept that a systematic, inexcusable and indefensible violation of the public trust occurred on his watch. With Gibbons announcement, nine House members have called for DeWeese to either resign as majority leader or quit the House altogether. However, two other area legislators state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-9, Union Township, Lawrence County, and state Rep. Vince Biancucci, D-15, Center Township criticized the antiDeWeese movement Thursday. Biancucci said the calls for DeWeeses resignation smack of grandstanding, although he acknowledged DeWeese shouldve been aware of what was going on under his watch. I just think that were overreacting at this time, Biancucci said. New leaders can be picked in a few months after the election, said Sainato, whose district includes Darlington and Darlington Township. I agree with Vince. A lot of this is political grandstanding. Bills going to have to face the caucus in November.

Sainato, who voted against DeWeese being majority leader, said legislators should spend their remaining session addressing problems facing the state. We need to let the process play itself out, he said. Gibbons, though, said calls for DeWeeses resignation will probably increase as worried Democratic House members launch re-election bids in the shadow of the corruption scandal. There is a bit of a political issue here for all of us, he said.