Parkside State Representative Vanessa Lowery Brown Guilty of Bribery, Five Other Charges

by Alexandra McFadden

On October 31st, Vanessa Lowery Brown, state representative for District 190, which covers most of Parkside, was found guilty of one felony count of bribery, five felony counts of violating the state’s conflict of interest laws, and one misdemeanor count of failing to report payments on her financial disclosure form. As of
publication, she has yet to be sentenced. Brown has represented district 190 since 2009 and ran unopposed in the 2018 general election.

Brown was the last of six Philadelphia Democrats implicated in a bribery sting originally conducted by former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office between 2010-2012. The other five elected officials, former Philadelphia Traffic Court President Judge Thomasine Tynes, former State Representatives Harold James, Michelle Brownlee, Louise Williams Bishop, and Ronald Waters all
struck deals with prosecutors and resigned from their positions, which allowed most of them—except Tynes—to retain their government pensions. Tynes served 23 months in prison, while James, Waters, Brownlee, and Williams Bishop received
probation.

As state representative, Vanessa Lowery Brown sits on four committees, including Children and Youth, Health, Tourism, and Recreational Development, and Urban Affairs. She has hosted many workshops and service events for constituents,
including property tax/rent rebate workshops and produce voucher giveaways for seniors. In the last legislative session, she has sponsored legislation promoting day care safety, spoken out against mandatory minimum sentencing bills, and advocated
for funding for the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center in East Parkside.

Several East Parksiders expressed sadness at the conviction of Representative Brown, particularly over the loss of such an accessible legislator. More than one recounted that she’d given them her personal number. At a time when the pace of neighborhood change is accelerating, losing an advocate in Harrisburg couldn’t have come at a worse moment.

After her sentencing, Brown will be barred from continuing to serve as a representative; she will also lose her government pension. It is currently unclear who will succeed her in office and how the next representative will be selected. Her legal team says they will appeal the conviction.

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