Pa. lawmakers, officials disclose gifts, travel
HARRISBURG – A new ethics filing by Gov. Tom Corbett reports he accepted travel subsidies worth more than $18,000 last year, including trips to Europe and Las Vegas.
The Republican governor’s statement of financial interest, posted Wednesday on the State Ethics Commission’s website, said he also received a vase, a robe and other gifts from the Turkish Cultural Center of Pennsylvania.
His report lists five trips, including a six-day trade mission to Germany and France underwritten by the Team Pennsylvania Foundation.
That group also paid for a three-day trade trip to Silicon Valley, near San Francisco.
Corbett’s other trips were to Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas, underwritten by the Republican Governors’ Association, and to the Republican National Convention Tampa, Fla., where Pennsylvania Republican groups paid for his hotel and meals.
Elected members of the Legislature reported more than $43,000 in gifts, transportation, lodging and hospitality last year, a number that should rise after the remaining one-fourth of the 253-member body submits their Statements of Financial Interest. The reports were due Wednesday.
Members accepted travel-related costs for trips to Ireland, Arizona, Illinois, New York, North Carolina and Washington, D.C., among other places. They took free ski passes, entertainment and a membership in the Erie Yacht Club.
The club sends him the membership every year, said Rep. Flo Fabrizio, D-Erie, but he has never used it.
“It’s in my district – I’ve never requested it, it just comes in the mail,” Fabrizio said.
Rep. Pete Daley, D-California, said he used the set of four free ski passes from the Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association just once this year, at Hidden Valley Resort. They were valued at $2,400.
More than $15,000 of the total consisted of donations for senior expos, youth fairs and similar events that lawmakers sponsor for constituents.
Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, reported that a senior living facility paid $8,000 to underwrite the cost of his senior fair, the single largest dollar figure in the reports that had been filed by the end of the day Tuesday.
More than $4,000 consisted of volume discounts granted to legislators for their business-related stays at Harrisburg area hotels.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, said the $2,224 he reported from attending two American Legislative Exchange Council meetings was not for a vacation.
“It’s related to my work as a legislator,” Metcalfe said. “It gives me an opportunity to talk to other lawmakers, other individuals about issues that affect government or affect business, or advance government policies.”
Filings for Gov. Tom Corbett and many of his Cabinet members had not been posted on the Ethics Commission’s website by late Tuesday, and many of the General Assembly’s senior leaders also had yet to file.
The reports also disclose outside business interests, including funeral homes, rental properties, law firms, day care, a poultry farm, an auctioneering business and a catering company.
Freshman Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, listed himself as president of Pocket Protector Games, an enterprise set up to design games for the iPhone. So far he’s sold 19 Pocket Trivia U.S. History apps at 99 cents a pop.
“I am a huge nerd, and I will happily go on the record that I am a huge nerd,” said Schlossberg, who recently restarted the company after shutting it down while running for office.
Public officials must disclose the dollar value of gifts worth at least $250, except from family members or friends, and transportation, lodging and hospitality worth at least $650 from a given source over the course of the year.