MERCER COUNTY Freshman commissioner is asked to resign

MERCER, Pa. -- Mercer County Commissioners Gene Brenneman and Olivia Lazor have asked the third commissioner, Brian W. Shipley, to resign from office effective at noon today.
Brenneman, chairman of the board, said the request was made Thursday.
He wouldn't be specific about the exact reasons for the request, explaining that he and Lazor would reveal more during a 12:30 p.m. press conference at the courthouse.
Lazor is a Democrat; Brenneman and Shipley are Republicans.
Shipley did not return numerous telephone calls seeking comment on the request.
Brenneman said he has heard that Shipley will resign but that he hasn't spoken directly with Shipley since Thursday.
Elected in 1999: Shipley, 30, a freshman commissioner, was elected to office in 1999, narrowly defeating former Farrell Mayor Eugene Pacsi by less than 500 votes to win the third commissioner seat in the November election.
Shipley has come under fire in recent months as questions regarding his use of a county credit card, his use of his office computer to visit pornographic Web sites and, most recently, his personal use of a county cellular telephone have surfaced.
Shipley said he thought the credit card was his alone and that the county had no responsibility for it.
Shipley also admitted he briefly checked several X-rated Web sites as the county brought its new computer system online. He said he did it as a means of checking just what sites employees would be able to get to on the Internet.
The cell phone issue surfaced late last week when the county controller's office released Shipley's county cell phone records at the request of news media.
What report showed: The 32-page report showed Shipley had made numerous private calls with the phone to escort services and similar businesses, primarily in the Pittsburgh area.
Some other personal calls were charged on the phone, which the county paid. Controller Dennis Songer said Shipley hasn't reimbursed the county for those costs.
Atty. James Epstein, county district attorney, said the credit card investigation was turned over to the Pennsylvania attorney general's office for investigation and, on Friday, Epstein said the attorney general's office has added the cell phone usage to its investigation.
Shipley's problems haven't ended there, however.
Campaign finance: The county election office reported that the Friends of Brian Shipley Committee, Shipley's campaign finance committee, has been raising and spending money illegally for the last several years.
State election law requires that a committee have both a president and treasurer, but Shipley's committee has had neither for years, a fact only recently discovered by someone looking at campaign finance reports, said James Bennington, county director of registration and election.
Shipley had been signing the committee finance reports, Bennington said.
He handed the matter over to Epstein for investigation. Epstein said that, if there was no attempt at fraud or deception, he will most likely just direct Shipley to make amended campaign finance reports.
Epstein said his investigation is under way but that there has been no indication of fraud or attempt to conceal assets in the case.