HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – Some public officials just can’t get enough of them — you know, the freebies — tickets to sporting events, concerts, wining and dining on someone else’s tab.
But Governor-elect Tom Wolf wants to end that.
“On Day 1, he will issue an executive order banning all employees of the executive branch from accepting any types of gifts,” said Wolf spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan.
Wolf says anyone who works in his branch of government will be prohibited from accepting any gifts of any value, as he pledged in his campaign platform: “The rule will be easy to apply and easy to report — no free lunches, no free tickets to ball games, and no free trips to conferences or vacation resorts.”
University of Pittsburgh professor Barry Mitnick, who teaches ethics at the Katz Business School, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano that it’s about time.
“Pennsylvania is one of the least restrictive states in the country about political gifts,” he said. “The rules are really minimal. You simply have to report a gift if it’s over $250.”
Mitnick says Gov. Tom Corbett took advantage of this.
“We’re talking gifts that were in the thousands. He reported a trip to Europe. He reported substantial gifts of a variety of personal items,” said Mitnick.
But even with Wolf’s gift ban for his staff, legislators and their employees will still be able to accept the same old freebies.
Wolf says he’ll propose legislation to limit all gifts to anyone in government to $25 or less, but Barry Kauffman of Common Cause/PA is skeptical legislators will restrict their freebies.
“Most lobbyists would love to see a gift ban,” said Kauffman. “The problem is the people who get the gifts now are also the people who get to push the red and green buttons on the House and Senate floors.”
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