- Associated Press - Monday, March 20, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Disgraced ex-Pennsylvania state treasurer Rob McCord was forced to acknowledge Monday in federal court that he had abused his office’s powers in more ways than previously revealed by prosecutors in McCord’s extortion case two years ago.

The revelations came as a prosecutor confronted McCord in the trial of a wealthy investment adviser, Richard Ireland, who is accused of trying to bribe McCord with campaign contributions.

The admissions were eye-opening, since a prosecutor forced them from a cooperating witness, McCord, who resigned as Pennsylvania’s elected treasurer in 2015 after being ensnared in the FBI’s wide-ranging pay-to-play investigation of Pennsylvania state government.

McCord, 58, was testifying for the fourth and final day in Ireland’s trial, during which jurors listened to hours of Ireland’s conversations secretly recorded by McCord for the FBI in his last weeks as treasurer.

Under questioning by a sometimes-combative Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Consiglio, McCord acknowledged that he had taken various steps or made various offers to help campaign contributors, or potential contributors, violating the law.

That included awarding a $50 million investment contract to a campaign donor who hid their connection to the contribution by giving through a third party. It also included promising to help a donor’s son network and land an investment contract, and offering to slow down a state payment to the competitor of a donor.

“I abused the treasurer’s power, more than once,” McCord told Consiglio.

According to Consiglio, at least one of those conversations was conducted for McCord by a onetime top aide to Democratic former Gov. Ed Rendell, John Estey, who made secret recordings of McCord for the FBI while cooperating in his own criminal case.

Those details had not been included in McCord’s extortion case that became public in early 2015. McCord was caught on tape in 2014 attempting to use his position as state treasurer to strong-arm donations to his failed gubernatorial campaign. McCord pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted extortion and is awaiting sentencing.

The exchange between Consiglio and McCord came shortly after McCord agreed with Ireland’s lawyer, Reid Weingarten, that it seemed to be McCord, and not Ireland, who had raised the subject of campaign contributions every time it came up in their recorded conversations.

“That’s my impression, too,” McCord responded.

At one point, McCord asked Ireland if he could get another $100,000 - Ireland had already promised $200,000 - if he delivered another $175 million in pension fund or treasury business to Ireland. Weingarten called that moment “the money shot.”

But Weingarten contended that Ireland’s promises to “work on it” and to take “good care” of McCord were vague and never connected a certain campaign contribution to any particular effort by McCord.

Weingarten also suggested that Ireland would have given the cash to McCord, as a longtime friend, whether or not McCord had delivered the investment business sought by Ireland.

At his next opportunity to question McCord, Consiglio asked McCord whether he had told the FBI, even before recording conversations with Ireland, that Ireland had connected campaign contributions to what McCord could do for him as treasurer.

“Certainly that was the nature of the relationship,” McCord responded.

Later, Consiglio suggested that Ireland expected things of friends. He pointed to a conversation after Republican Gov. Tom Corbett had lost his re-election bid in 2014 when McCord asked Ireland if he’d talked to Corbett.

“I’m not taking to Corbett,” Ireland responded. Then he used an expletive to refer to Corbett, and said he “did nothing for us.”

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