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

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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.

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