Westmoreland County coroner's social media use probed
Westmoreland County Coroner Ken Bacha on Friday conceded he might have violated the county's new social media policy when he posted a campaign endorsement on the office's official Facebook page.
“It was very complimentary of myself and my office, and that's why I posted it,” Bacha said.
State and local officials said they are investigating whether the posting violated election laws.
“In general, if a public official uses any government resource for political purpose, that could be considered a violation of the Ethics Act,” said Rob Caruso, executive director of the State Ethics Commission.
The posting, a letter of endorsement that asked people to vote for Bacha and District Attorney John Peck, appeared on Thursday morning on the coroner's Facebook page.
Bacha, a three-term Democrat, is being challenged by Republican F. Christopher O'Leath in Tuesday's general election.
Peck, a Democrat, is seeking his fifth term in office. He is being challenged by Republican Peter Borghetti.
The endorsement letter was written by the family of Jennifer Daugherty, the mentally challenged woman who was tortured and killed three years ago in Greensburg.
Daugherty's sister, Joy Burkholder, praised Bacha and Peck for their roles in the investigation and prosecutions of Daugherty's killers.
She urged people to vote for Bacha and Peck.
The letter appeared for about a day on the coroner's office Facebook page, as well as Bacha's campaign website and his personal Facebook page.
Peck posted the letter on his campaign website, which is legal.
By Friday afternoon, once questions about the posting had surfaced, Bacha edited the letter on his office's Web page to redact the section that asked residents to re-elect him.
“Unfortunately, there is one word — ‘V-O-T-E' — that makes it bad,” Bacha said. “There was no intent to make it a political post.”
Bacha said he or a member of his office staff used a county computer to post the endorsement.
Bacha said he initially was not aware of the county's social media policy, which bans political statements and opinions that are in opposition to the commissioners. Bacha said he edited the letter when he learn of the policy.
County officials said the initial posting appears to have violated the social media policy that commissioners approved in September.
“They have to follow the county policy,” said Dave Ridilla, director of the county's computer information systems.
Ridilla's department oversees the county's website and Facebook pages operated by 10 offices, including the coroner's office.
Since the policy was put in place, the computer department has started taking over all elected row officers' Facebook pages.
Web administrator Vicki Ali said that so far, only one department's Facebook page, that of the treasurer's office, is overseen by the computer office.
“We don't have time to monitor every department's site,” Ali said.
She said the computer department should assume oversight of all Facebook pages next year.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or 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.
- Jewish congregations dwindling, forced to mull viability of worship sites
- State Supreme Court rejects latest Foxley Farm appeal in Ligonier Township dispute
- Hempfield woman donates music inspired by WWI ‘doughnut girls’
- Facelift approved for historic La Rose building in Greensburg
- Hempfield woman seriously injured in crash
- Youthful actors bring Disney classic ‘Tarzan’ to life at Geyer in Scottdale
- Smithton man gets 6-12 years for robbery in Jeannette
- Unity to decide July 9 on disputed gas station
- 3 injured in crash that ties up Route 22 in Salem for nearly 8 hours
- Former Jeannette coach held for trial on charges of assault on teen girls
- Hempfield bicyclist gets one last chance from Westmoreland County judge