Watch CBS News

Washington Co. Attorney To Challenge Rep. White In Primary

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A Washington County attorney says he plans to challenge Pa. Rep. Jesse White in the Democratic Primary.

First, he stonewalled.

"I have no comment on these personal and political attacks put on me by the propaganda wing of the natural gas industry," said Rep. White earlier this year.

But then, state Rep. White conceded that he did – allegedly posed on the Internet under false identities to attack some of his constituents who support natural gas drilling.

In the case of Janice Gibbs, even used her own name.

"Kind of feel violated a little bit. I feel violated that… an elected official would go this far," said Gibbs, of McDonald, Pa.

Attorney Paul Walsh says Rep. White's actions are so far out-of-bounds that he has decided to challenge White in the Democratic Primary.

"His conduct, in my view, has clearly violated the public trust," said Walsh. "And he has undermined his effectiveness as a leader in Harrisburg and in our district, and I think we're all suffering as a result of that."

Rep. White's issued written statements apologizing to Gibbs and others, but Walsh says he's never explained his actions.

"Mr. White is going to have to answer for the conduct," says Walsh. "Why he impersonated other people, why he used their persona and went out and attacked members of his own party and his own constituents."

Walsh, who says he favors responsible drilling, says he wants to work with all his constituents.

"If we all work together and fulfill our responsibility, we'll be able to work together with the industry to take advantage of the economic development opportunities, the growth, the job creation, and all of the good things that come along with it," he said.

Rep. White did not return phone calls requesting an interview and hasn't since KDKA's initial reports. But candidate Walsh says he hopes to debate the state representative.

Washington Co. Drilling Supporters Call For State Rep.'s Resignation (6/18/13)
More Reports on Rep. White
More Reports by Andy Sheehan

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.