Last month, Attorney General Tom Corbett filed 289 criminal counts against a dozen Harrisburg insiders, alleging they conspired to use tax dollars to underwrite campaigns of House Democrats. Corbett has alleged, among other things, that legislative staffers were awarded government bonuses based on how hard they worked on political campaigns.
DeWeese was not charged. He has insisted that he had known nothing about the bonus system and that, since learning of it, he had worked hard to install higher ethical standards in the caucus.
Nonetheless, he has come under increasing pressure, including from within his own party, to step down as the top House Democrat because Bonusgate unfolded under his watch.
"I respect the opinions reflected in this poll. Clearly we need to do a better job of educating voters about the dozens of meaningful legislative and administrative reforms that we implemented this session," said DeWeese, who pointed to the state's newly expanded open-records law and more than two dozen changes to internal House operating rules.
Pennsylvanians clearly want more, however.
Seventy-six percent of those polled said they believe the legislature should hold a special session just to consider ways to rid Harrisburg of corruption.
The poll also found that the legislature, as a whole, has an approval rating of only 32 percent. That's just slightly higher than a low found by Quinnipiac in October 2005, after the pay-raise scandal of that year.
Voters, however, continue to give Gov. Rendell relatively high marks. He has a 54 percent approval rating, about the same as a year ago, indicating that he was relatively untouched by Bonusgate, the poll found.
The poll of 1,580 voters statewide was conducted over five days ending Sunday, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
Contact staff writer Mario F. Cattabiani at 717-787-5990 or firstname.lastname@example.org.