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Corbett denies game official's appeal of moonlighting ban

Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett talks to The Henry Buhl, Jr. Directors of Carnegie Science Center Ron Baillie (right) and Ann Metzger (left) after a news conference at Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore on Monday, April 21, 2014. During his visit, the governor stressed the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education programs.

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Monday, May 5, 2014, 2:30 p.m.
 

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett will not reverse his decision preventing a top game commission official from moonlighting as an agent for property owners negotiating Marcellus shale leases, a spokesman said on Monday.

William Capouillez, whose duties at the commission include overseeing gas leases, asked Corbett to reconsider in a letter the Tribune-Review obtained. He said the money he earns goes toward a Christian-oriented foundation that provides “a ray of hope and opportunity for both children and adults.”

“You do not know me. But I am the one who has paid service to his country with over 21 years in the Army, beginning at the rank of private and retiring as major,” wrote Capouillez, whose salary as the commission's director of Wildlife Habitat Management is $80,059.

His letter said severing the agreement he had for outside income prevents him from making money from trapping and as a part-time farmer selling poultry, eggs, grain and alfalfa.

The governor's Office of General Counsel said the private consulting work was a potential conflict of interest and referred to a state Ethics Commission investigation that is under way.

In a brief telephone interview, Capouillez confirmed that there is an investigation. He said state officials inappropriately leaked information on a confidential investigation.

Jay Pagni, a Corbett spokesman, said the Office of Administration will decide requests on a case-by-case basis from game commission employees about collecting outside income. Capouillez can reapply, Pagni said, but one standard is not having a conflict of interest.

Capouillez ran a consulting business in McVeytown, Mifflin County. The commission revoked his outside employment agreement when Corbett and legislative leaders in March gave members an ultimatum to take several steps.

Capouillez had been a potential candidate to become the commission's executive director, but the board appointed Matthew Hough.

In asking Corbett to rescind the ban on outside income, Capouillez wrote that the money paid almost entirely for the nonprofit organization he and his wife founded several years ago — a local mission helping Mifflin County families in need. In his letter, he described himself as a Christian “who believes the Holy Bible is greater than any government institution that was ever in existence” and noted his profound disappointment at being excluded from consideration as executive director for political reasons, as “your staff offered me up as a sacrifice.”

Capouillez said he was disappointed by lack of acknowledgement that Corbett read the letter. Corbett did see the letter, Pagni said.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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