The Pa. state attorney general announced charges on Wednesday against Rep. Margo Davidson, a long-serving Democrat from Upper Darby, saying she had stolen from taxpayers by fraudulently misrepresenting her per diems and other expenses.

“The Grand Jury found that Margo Davidson, 58, requested overnight expenses for nights she did not spend in Harrisburg, and received personal reimbursements from the Commonwealth for expenses that had been paid for by her campaign,” a press release from Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.

“The Representative has also been charged with Election Code violations arising from failure to report campaign finance information, as well as soliciting a witness to lie during the course of the investigation,” which was focused on Davidson’s activities from 2015 to 2019.

Davidson has represented Upper Darby’s House District 164 since 2011, according to Ballotpedia, and was the first Black woman elected to the Pennsylvania House from Delaware County, according to the Inquirer. She appeared in Harrisburg on Thursday before District Judge David O’Leary, announcing plans to retire immediately.

The attorney general’s statement said Davidson has resigned, waived her preliminary hearing, and has already paid a restitution of $6,925.

Pennsylvania has generous per diem and travel reimbursements for its more than 200 state representatives and senators. But those expenses, when claimed, must correspond to actual activities tied to the elected official’s work on behalf of constituents.

The grand jury and Shapiro’s office allege Davidson collected and was reimbursed for “overnight expenses” on certain days when she was not in Harrisburg. 

The grand jury and Shapiro’s office allege Davidson collected and was reimbursed for “overnight expenses” on certain days when she was not in Harrisburg. 

In addition, the AG’s office says Davidson was being reimbursed for some expenses in which she bore no out-of-pocket cost at all — thereby making her actions a sort of double-dip, at the taxpayer’s expense.

“Representatives are entitled to payments for out-of-pocket expenses during official events and trips,” the prosecutor’s statement said. “However, Davidson was reimbursed for expenses paid for by her campaign.”

Tom Micozzie, chair of the Upper Darby GOP and the former longtime mayor of Upper Darby Township, said that residents in the area should take the long view when interpreting the news of the allegations against Davidson.

“In cases like this, there are no winners. Whenever someone violates the public trust there can, and should be, consequences,” Micozzie said. 

“The fact that Ms. Davidson has accepted responsibility for her actions and resigned her seat is a positive sign. Moving forward, I hope the residents understand there are more important things in selecting public officials than party affiliation and consider voting for candidates who share their values and seek public office solely to help the people living in their community.”

Davidson has drawn public scrutiny for her enjoyment of various taxpayer-funded perks before.

In March, she spoke from the well of the State House to advocate for the continued benefit of state-supplied vehicles for elected officials, invoking the term “cancel culture” to the audible uproar of opponents of the perk.

“I think we’re just talking about cancel culture,” Rep. Margo Davidson (D) said at the time, as the house floor responded with unstifled laughter. “Legislator shaming! ‘Those legislators are good, and those legislators are bad, so we want to cancel these legislators’ vehicles,’” she said at the time, mocking her opponents.

“I think that is an outrage, Mr. Speaker.” 

Her remarks drew criticism from her colleagues in part because of her driving history in which she “had three accidents in two state vehicles over three years, including a hit-and-run fender bender this year while driving with a suspended license,” and incurred over $30,000 in damages, according to the Inquirer. This included an alleged hit-and-run and several other traffic violations.

Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at tshepherd@broadandliberty.com, or use his encrypted email at shepherdreports@protonmail.com.

Leave a (Respectful) Comment

Your email address will not be published.