PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The State Auditor General released new details about county officials, who allegedly accepted gifts from voting machine vendors.READ MORE: Allison Park Church Holds Food Distribution Event At Beaver Valley Mall
Eugene DePasquale says while they technically did nothing illegal, they should have just said no.
Election officials in 18 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties took gifts, meals and/or trips from firms pitching new voting machines, said DePasquale.
“Meals, wine tours, amusement park tickets, lobster dinners, even trips to Vegas. I think that stuff is wholly unacceptable,” DePasquale told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
Because of security concerns, Governor Tom Wolf has ordered the counties to buy new voting machines before the 2020 election approved by both the Commonwealth and Homeland Security.
The auditor general says it’s wrong to have those decisions influenced by gifts.
“It is particularly galling given all the scrutiny that we are rightfully putting on making our voting system is secure in the next election because of all the things we know from the interference — the attempted interference from Russia and other hackers,” DePasquale said.READ MORE: New Ordinance Allows Food Truck Operation In Monessen
DePasquale says at least two companies, Dominion and ES&S, attempted to influence the purchase of voting machines by wining and dining those responsible for selecting new machines.
“I get what they were doing. They were trying to get business,” said DePasquale. “It is up to the public officials to act in the public interest.
“Just because someone offers you a dinner, just because someone offers you a wine tour, just because someone offers you free amusement park tickets, doesn’t mean you have to take it. In every one of those instances, the officials should have said no.”
In this region, DePasquale fingered three counties: Butler where officials got meals, coffee, doughnuts, and candy; Washington where officials got lunches and mileage reimbursement; and Westmoreland where officials got lunches, dinners, doughnuts, and a trip to a wine festival.
It’s all quite legal under current law, says DePasquale.
And he says he doesn’t get uptight over the small stuff, but “the wine tours, the Vegas trips — that’s a whole other category.”MORE NEWS: UPS, United Way Team Up For 5K Benefit Race
Local officials insist the gifts have no impact on their decisions.