Share This Page

Ethics panel: It's OK for Westmoreland commissioner to do business with municipalities

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 11:09 p.m.

Westmoreland County Commissioner Tyler Courtney can serve as an investment banker, stockbroker and insurance agent to municipalities in the county, according to a state ethics commission opinion issued this month.

Courtney, a first-term Republican, said on Wednesday that he sought the finding to ensure that his current and future private business dealings were within bounds of state law.

“I don't want to cross any lines,” Courtney said.

When Courtney took office in 2012, he continued to operate RTC Financial Services, a financial planning business he formed in 2000. The company offers financial advice and planning, and sells stocks and insurance, according to its website.

He also owns Natural Resource Placement, a business that advises natural gas drillers. Courtney said that company has not operated since he assumed office.

Courtney, who earns more than $75,000 a year as a commissioner, declined to reveal how many clients his private business has but said none is a municipality. He said he does work for the business on nights and weekends.

“I don't think taxpayers should be concerned at all. I put in a lot of time at the courthouse,” Courtney said.

The commissioners and other elected county officials have no minimum work hour requirements for their day jobs. Courtney has attended most public meetings that have been held since he was elected.

Courtney disclosed his outside business dealings on a statement of financial interest on file at the courthouse. Commissioners Charles Anderson and Ted Kopas disclosed no second jobs on their filings.

The ethics commission concluded that Courtney can market his services to municipalities within Westmoreland County, provided he abstains from any votes involving their financial dealings with the county and doesn't personally benefit from any deals his clients have with the county.

Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, an advocacy group that promotes government accountability, said there appear to be no improprieties with Courtney's moonlighting.

“As long as he keeps a red line between official business and his outside duties, I think that's OK,” Kauffman said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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.