Company to provide refreshments at lawmaker's open house
By Rick Wills
Published: Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, 10:57 p.m.
State Rep. Jim Marshall said he sees no conflict of interest in allowing Duquesne Light to pay for refreshments at an open house for his new district office next month.
“It's snacks, maybe coffee, not some kind of catered event,” said Marshall, a Big Beaver Borough Republican and member of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
Such gifts are not banned in Pennsylvania.
“There's no prohibition of this. There's a reporting requirement if the cost exceeds $650,” said Rob Caruso, executive director of the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission.
Marshall does not think the cost will be that high.
“I'll be surprised if it costs $65. It could just be a large box of cookies,” he said.
Duquesne Light spokesman Joseph Vallarian would not disclose the cost.
“This is not unusual for the company. Duquesne Light supports elected officials within our service territory with contributions for a variety of community events, be they senior fairs or open houses,” Vallarian said.
If reporting the gift is required, Marshall will have until May 2015 to do so.
“That's way too long afterwards, and it's after the election. That's a big problem with the law,” said Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, an advocacy group that supports banning gifts and improving disclosure laws.
“This is a person they really want to be on their side. There is a good lobbying reason for them to want to get close to Rep. Marshall because of the committee he's on,” Kauffman said.
In recent years, lobbyists and businesses have paid for some Pennsylvania lawmakers to take trips to Ireland, Poland, Taiwan and Turkey. Others accepted tickets to Steelers, Penn State, Pitt and 76ers games, according to disclosure statements filed with the Ethics Commission this year.
More states are moving toward gift bans, according to Kauffman.
“In Wisconsin and Kentucky, this donation would have been illegal,” he said.
Rick Wills is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7944 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Meetings on proposed Shell ‘cracker’ plant in Beaver County lure 1,000
- Beaver County victim upset attacker gets only probation